Happy 123rd Birthday James Cagney

Today is the 123rd birthday of the actor James Cagney. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has gone.

NAME: James Cagney
FULL NAME: James Francis Cagney, Jr.
DATE OF BIRTH: 17-Jul-1899
DATE OF DEATH: 30-Mar-1986
PLACE OF DEATH: Stanfordville, NY
CAUSE OF DEATH: Heart Failure
REMAINS: Buried, Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, NY
FATHER: James Francis Cagney, Sr. (bartender, d. 1918)
MOTHER: Carolyn
BROTHER: William Cagney
SISTER: Jeanne Cagney
WIFE: Frances Vernon (“Bill”, m. 28-Sep-1922, until his death)
SON: James Cagney, Jr. (adopted)
DAUGHTER: Cathleen (“Casey”, adopted)
Screen Actors Guild President (1942-44)
Oscar for Best Actor 1943 for Yankee Doodle Dandy
American Film Institute Life Achievement Award 1974
Kennedy Center Honor 1980
Hollywood Walk of Fame 6502 Hollywood Blvd.
Presidential Medal of Freedom 1984
Asteroid Namesake 6377 Cagney

BEST KNOWN FOR: James Francis Cagney Jr. was an American actor and dancer.

Raised in New York City’s tough Yorkville neighborhood, Cagney was a veteran of settlement house revues, vaudeville and five years of Broadway when he came to Warner Bros. in 1930. Cagney, Bette Davis and Edward G. Robinson, all signed to long-term contracts during this period, became the core of the studio’s stock company, which also included character and supporting players such as Alan Jenkins and Frank McHugh. After playing several featured roles Cagney attained instant and lasting fame with his role as vicious gunman Tom Powers in William Wellman’s “The Public Enemy” (1931).

“The Public Enemy”‘s story of a wisecracking hood who seemed to delight in violence indelibly stamped the gangster genre. Along with “Little Caesar” (1931) and “I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang” (1932), the picture cemented Warner Bros.’ position as a major studio. Between 1930 and 1941, Cagney made 38 films at Warner Bros. While most were crime and action dramas or comedies, quickly produced on modest budgets and featuring few other box office “names,” many have become genre classics. Several, including “Angels With Dirty Faces” (1938) and “The Roaring Twenties” (1939), remain seminal works in American film history. Cagney reached a creative peak with “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942), a biopic based on the life of composer George M. Cohan. A sentimental masterpiece, the film drew on Cagney’s prodigious dancing talents, largely unexploited at Warner Bros. (except for the marvelous “Footlight Parade” 1933), and brought him the Academy Award for best actor.

A series of well-publicized salary disputes at Warner Bros. led to Cagney’s forming an independent production company, Cagney Productions. Headed by James and his brother William, a former actor, the firm was based on terms developed in James’s last Warner Bros. contract and gave him unprecedented leeway in choosing vehicles and participating in profits. It proved a failure, releasing only three films through United Artists, but was nevertheless a path-breaking model which many others in the industry would soon follow.

In 1949 Cagney made an explosive return to Warner Bros. in the Raoul Walsh-directed “White Heat,” playing Cody Jarrett, a violent, Freudianized update of the Tom Powers character in “The Public Enemy.” Like the earlier film, “White Heat” was both profitable and enormously influential.

Throughout the 1950s Cagney played sardonic and often villainous characters for several studios, in films occasionally produced by Cagney Productions. The decade also saw his only directing assignment, “Short Cut To Hell” (1957), and his last musical, the uneven but sometimes delightful “Never Steal Anything Small” (1959).

After a bravura performance in Billy Wilder’s ironic farce “One, Two, Three” (1961), Cagney retired. The following years saw him receive many honors, including the 1974 Life Achievement Award of the American Film Institute–the second such award ever given. His good friend and neighbor, director Milos Forman, lured him from retirement for “Ragtime” (1981), but Cagney’s own desires to perform again were hampered by increasing ill health. He made only one more appearance before his death, the made-for-TV movie “Terrible Joe Moran” (1984).

Terrible Joe Moran (27-Mar-1984)
Ragtime (20-Nov-1981)
Arizona Bushwhackers (Mar-1968) as Narrator [VOICE]
One, Two, Three (15-Dec-1961) as C. R. MacNamara
The Gallant Hours (13-Jun-1960) as Fleet Adm. William F. Halsey
Shake Hands with the Devil (24-Jun-1959) as Sean Lenihan
Never Steal Anything Small (11-Feb-1959)
Man of a Thousand Faces (13-Aug-1957) as Lon Chaney
These Wilder Years (17-Aug-1956) as Steve Bradford
Tribute to a Bad Man (30-Mar-1956) as Jeremy Rodock
Mister Roberts (30-Jul-1955) as Capt. Morton
The Seven Little Foys (31-May-1955) as George M. Cohan
Love Me or Leave Me (26-May-1955) as Martin Snyder
Run for Cover (29-Apr-1955) as Matt Dow
Gun Fury (30-Oct-1953)
A Lion Is in the Streets (23-Sep-1953) as Hank Martin
What Price Glory (22-Aug-1952)
Starlift (14-Dec-1951) as Himself
Come Fill the Cup (24-Oct-1951)
The West Point Story (22-Dec-1950) as Elwin Bixby
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (4-Aug-1950)
White Heat (2-Sep-1949) as Arthur Jarrett
The Time of Your Life (26-May-1948) as Joe
13 Rue Madeleine (15-Jan-1947) as Bob Sharkey
Blood on the Sun (26-Apr-1945) as Nick Condon
Johnny Come Lately (3-Sep-1943)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (6-Jun-1942) as George M. Cohan
Captains of the Clouds (12-Feb-1942) as Brian MacLean
The Bride Came C.O.D. (12-Jul-1941)
The Strawberry Blonde (22-Feb-1941) as Biff Grimes
City for Conquest (21-Sep-1940) as Danny Kenny
Torrid Zone (18-May-1940) as Nick Butler
The Fighting 69th (26-Jan-1940) as Jerry Plunkett
The Roaring Twenties (23-Oct-1939) as Eddie Bartlett
Each Dawn I Die (22-Jul-1939) as Frank Ross
The Oklahoma Kid (3-Mar-1939) as Jim Kincaid
Angels with Dirty Faces (24-Nov-1938)
Boy Meets Girl (27-Aug-1938) as Robert Law
Something to Sing About (30-Sep-1937)
Ceiling Zero (16-Jan-1936)
Great Guy (1936)
Frisco Kid (30-Nov-1935)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (9-Oct-1935)
The Irish in Us (31-Jul-1935) as Danny O’Hara
G Men (18-Apr-1935) as Brick Davis
Devil Dogs of the Air (9-Feb-1935) as Tommy O’Toole
The St. Louis Kid (1-Nov-1934)
Here Comes the Navy (28-Jun-1934) as Chesty
He Was Her Man (18-May-1934)
Jimmy the Gent (17-Mar-1934)
Lady Killer (28-Dec-1933) as Dan
Footlight Parade (30-Sep-1933) as Chester Kent
The Mayor of Hell (23-Jun-1933)
Picture Snatcher (6-May-1933) as Danny
Hard to Handle (28-Jan-1933)
Winner Take All (16-Jul-1932) as Jimmy Kane
The Crowd Roars (16-Apr-1932) as Joe Greer
Taxi! (23-Jan-1932) as Matt Nolan
Blonde Crazy (14-Nov-1931) as Bert Harris
Smart Money (11-Jul-1931) as Jack
The Millionaire (1-May-1931)
The Public Enemy (23-Apr-1931) as Tom Powers
Other Men’s Women (17-Jan-1931)
The Doorway to Hell (18-Oct-1930)
Sinners’ Holiday (11-Oct-1930)

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