LATEST: Veteran actress Doris Day has backed out of jetting into Washington, DC, to pick up her PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM - because she has a fear of flying.

The 80-year-old PILLOW TALK star is one of 12 people being awarded America's highest civilian honour today (23JUN04), but she'll be staying at her home in Carmel Valley, California, rather than collecting hers from President George W Bush.

She says, "I am deeply grateful to the president and to my country. But I won't fly."

Day blames her fear of flying on too many overseas trips with late comedian Bob Hope entertaining US troops.

She explains, "Bob would fly even if a cyclone was coming. I saw him on his knees many a time. In fact, we were all on our knees. We flew in snowstorms, whatever, to get to the next show. When I hit the ground, I said, 'Never again.'"

24/06/2004 00:06