151 Facts About James Cagney


James Cagney won acclaim and major awards for a wide variety of performances.


James Cagney was able to negotiate dancing opportunities in his films and ended up winning the Academy Award for his role in the musical Yankee Doodle Dandy.


James Cagney spent several years in vaudeville as a dancer and comedian, until he got his first major acting part in 1925.


James Cagney secured several other roles, receiving good notices, before landing the lead in the 1929 play Penny Arcade.


James Cagney became one of Hollywood's leading stars and one of Warner Bros.


In 1942 Cagney won the Oscar for his energetic portrayal of George M Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy.


James Cagney was nominated a third time in 1955 for Love Me or Leave Me with Doris Day.


James Cagney retired from acting and dancing in 1961 to spend time on his farm with his family.


James Cagney came out of retirement 20 years later for a part in the movie Ragtime, mainly to aid his recovery from a stroke.


James Cagney worked for the independent film company Grand National for a year while the suit was being settled, then in 1942 establishing his own production company, Cagney Productions, before returning to Warner seven years later.


James Cagney made numerous USO troop tours before and during World War II and served as president of the Screen Actors Guild for two years.


James Francis "Jimmy" Cagney was born in 1899 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City.


James Cagney's biographers disagree as to the actual location: either on the corner of Avenue D and 8th Street, or in a top-floor apartment at 391 East 8th Street, the address that is on his birth certificate.


James Cagney's mother was Carolyn Elizabeth ; her father was a Norwegian ship's captain, and her mother was Irish.


James Cagney was the second of seven children, two of whom died within months of their births.


James Cagney later attributed his sickly health to the poverty his family endured.


James Cagney was confirmed at St Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan; his funeral service would eventually be held in the same church.


The red-haired, blue-eyed James Cagney graduated from Stuyvesant High School in New York City, in 1918, and attended Columbia College, where he intended to major in Art.


James Cagney took German and joined the Student Army Training Corps, but he dropped out after one semester, returning home upon the death of his father during the 1918 flu pandemic.


James Cagney held a variety of jobs early in his life: junior architect, copy boy for the New York Sun, book custodian at the New York Public Library, bellhop, draughtsman, and night doorkeeper.


James Cagney started tap dance as a boy and was nicknamed "Cellar-Door Cagney" after his habit of dancing on slanted cellar doors.


James Cagney was a good street fighter, defending his older brother Harry, a medical student, when necessary.


James Cagney engaged in amateur boxing, and was a runner-up for the New York state lightweight title.


James Cagney's coaches encouraged him to turn professional, but his mother would not allow it.


James Cagney played semi-professional baseball for a local team, and entertained dreams of playing in the Major Leagues.


James Cagney became involved in amateur dramatics, starting as a scenery boy for a Chinese pantomime at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House where his brother Harry performed and Florence James directed.


James Cagney was initially content working behind the scenes and had no interest in performing.


One night Harry became ill, and although James Cagney was not an understudy, his photographic memory of rehearsals enabled him to stand in for his brother without making a single mistake.


In 1919, while James Cagney was working at Wanamaker's Department Store, a colleague saw him dance and informed him about a role in the upcoming production, Every Sailor.


James Cagney auditioned for the chorus, although considering it a waste of time, as he knew only one dance step, the complicated Peabody, but he knew it perfectly.


James Cagney did not find it odd to play a woman, nor was he embarrassed.


Pitter Patter was not hugely successful, but it did well enough to run for 32 weeks, making it possible for James Cagney to join the vaudeville circuit.


James Cagney played a young tough guy in the three-act play Outside Looking In by Maxwell Anderson, earning $200 a week.


James Cagney felt that he only got the role because his hair was redder than that of Alan Bunce, the only other red-headed performer in New York.


James Cagney made up his mind that he would get a job doing something else.


James Cagney established a dance school for professionals, and then landed a part in the play Women Go On Forever, directed by John Cromwell, which ran for four months.


James Cagney had built a reputation as an innovative teacher; when he was cast as the lead in Grand Street Follies of 1928, he was appointed choreographer.


James Cagney saw this role as significant because of the talented directors he met.


Joan Blondell recalled that when they were casting the film, studio head Jack Warner believed that she and James Cagney had no future, and that Withers and Knapp were destined for stardom.


James Cagney was given a $500-a-week, three-week contract with Warner Bros.


James Cagney received good reviews, and immediately played another colorful gangster supporting role in The Doorway to Hell starring Lew Ayres.


James Cagney made four more movies before his breakthrough role.


Joan Blondell recalled that the change was made when James Cagney decided the omelette wouldn't work.


James Cagney did not object to donating money to charity, but he did object to being forced to give.


James Cagney began to compare his pay with his peers, thinking his contract allowed for salary adjustments based on the success of his films.


The studio heads insisted that James Cagney continue promoting their films, even ones he was not in, which he opposed.


James Cagney moved back to New York, leaving his brother Bill to look after his apartment.


The film is notable for not only being the first time that James Cagney danced on screen, but it was the last time he allowed himself to be shot at with live ammunition.


James Cagney wanted more money for his successful films, but he offered to take a smaller salary should his star wane.


James Cagney held out for $4000 a week, the same salary as Edward G Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr.


James Cagney announced that he would do his next three pictures for free if they canceled the five years remaining on his contract.


James Cagney threatened to quit Hollywood and go back to Columbia University to follow his brothers into medicine.


James Cagney regularly sent money and goods to old friends from his neighborhood, though he did not generally make this known.


James Cagney returned to the studio and made Hard to Handle.


Also in 1934, James Cagney made his first of two raucous comedies with Bette Davis, Jimmy the Gent, for which he had himself heavily made up with thick eyebrows and procured an odd haircut for the period without the studio's permission, shaved on the back and sides.


James Cagney initially had the make-up department put prominent scars on the back of his head for a close-up but the studio demanded that he remove them.


In 1935 Cagney was listed as one of the Top Ten Moneymakers in Hollywood for the first time, and was cast more frequently in non-gangster roles; he played a lawyer who joins the FBI in G-Men, and he took on his first, and only, Shakespearean role, as top-billed Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream alongside Joe E Brown as Francis Flute and Mickey Rooney as Puck.


This, combined with the fact that James Cagney had made five movies in 1934, again against his contract terms, caused him to bring legal proceedings against Warner Bros.


James Cagney received calls from David Selznick and Sam Goldwyn, but neither felt in a position to offer him work while the dispute went on.


Meanwhile, while being represented by his brother William in court, James Cagney went back to New York to search for a country property where he could indulge his passion for farming.


James Cagney made two films for Grand National: Great Guy and Something to Sing About.


James Cagney received good reviews for both, but overall the production quality was not up to Warner Bros.


James Cagney became involved in political causes, and in 1936, agreed to sponsor the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League.


James Cagney had done what many thought unthinkable: taking on the studios and winning.


James Cagney had full say over what films he did and did not make.


Additionally, William James Cagney was guaranteed the position of assistant producer for the movies in which his brother starred.


James Cagney had demonstrated the power of the walkout in keeping the studios to their word.


James Cagney walked out and came back to a better contract.


Artistically, the Grand National experiment was a success for James Cagney, who was able to move away from his traditional Warner Bros.


Ironically, the script for Angels was one that James Cagney had hoped to do while with Grand National, but the studio had been unable to secure funding.


James Cagney starred as Rocky Sullivan, a gangster fresh out of jail and looking for his former associate, played by Humphrey Bogart, who owes him money.


James Cagney himself refused to say, insisting he liked the ambiguity.


James Cagney had been considered for the role, but lost out on it due to his typecasting.


James Cagney completed his first decade of movie-making in 1939 with The Roaring Twenties, his first film with Raoul Walsh and his last with Bogart.


James Cagney again received good reviews; Graham Greene stated, "Mr James Cagney, of the bull-calf brow, is as always a superb and witty actor".


In 1939 James Cagney was second to only Gary Cooper in the national acting wage stakes, earning $368,333.


The well-received film with its shocking plot twists features one of James Cagney's most moving performances.


Cagney's third film in 1940 was The Fighting 69th, a World War I film about a real-life unit with Cagney playing a fictional private, alongside Pat O'Brien as Father Francis P Duffy, George Brent as future OSS leader Maj.


In 1942, Cagney portrayed George M Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy, a film Cagney "took great pride in" and considered his best.


James Cagney, though, insisted that Fred Astaire had been the first choice, but turned it down.


James Cagney announced in March 1942 that his brother William and he were setting up James Cagney Productions to release films though United Artists.


James Cagney spent several weeks touring the US, entertaining troops with vaudeville routines and scenes from Yankee Doodle Dandy.


Almost a year after its creation, James Cagney Productions produced its first film, Johnny Come Lately, in 1943.


James Cagney refused to give interviews to the British press, preferring to concentrate on rehearsals and performances.


James Cagney gave several performances a day for the Army Signal Corps of The American Cavalcade of Dance, which consisted of a history of American dance, from the earliest days to Fred Astaire, and culminated with dances from Yankee Doodle Dandy.


The second movie James Cagney's company produced was Blood on the Sun.


James Cagney thought that Murphy had the looks to be a movie star, and suggested that he come to Hollywood.


James Cagney felt that Murphy could not act, and his contract was loaned out and then sold.


The wartime spy film was a success, and James Cagney was keen to begin production of his new project, an adaptation of William Saroyan's Broadway play The Time of Your Life.


James Cagney Productions was in serious trouble; poor returns from the produced films, and a legal dispute with Sam Goldwyn Studio over a rental agreement forced James Cagney back to Warner Bros.


James Cagney signed a distribution-production deal with the studio for the film White Heat, effectively making Cagney Productions a unit of Warner Bros.


James Cagney was no longer a dashing romantic commodity in precisely the same way he obviously was before, and this was reflected in his performance.


James Cagney attributed the performance to his father's alcoholic rages, which he had witnessed as a child, as well as someone that he had seen on a visit to a mental hospital.


James Cagney Productions was not a great success and in 1953, after William James Cagney produced his last film, A Lion Is in the Streets, a drama loosely based on flamboyant politician Huey Long, the company came to an end.


James Cagney played Martin "Moe the Gimp" Snyder, a lame Jewish-American gangster from Chicago, a part Spencer Tracy had turned down.


James Cagney described the script as "that extremely rare thing, the perfect script".


James Cagney's performance earned him another Best Actor Academy Award nomination, 17 years after his first.


Tracy's involvement ensured that James Cagney accepted a supporting role in his close friend's movie, although in the end, Tracy did not take part and Henry Fonda played the titular role instead.


James Cagney enjoyed working with the film's superb cast despite the absence of Tracy.


The first thing that James Cagney asked Lemmon when they met was if he was still using his left hand.


In 1955 James Cagney replaced Spencer Tracy on the Western film Tribute to a Bad Man for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.


James Cagney received praise for his performance, and the studio liked his work enough to offer him These Wilder Years with Barbara Stanwyck.


In 1956 James Cagney undertook one of his very rare television roles, starring in Robert Montgomery's Soldiers From the War Returning.


James Cagney received excellent reviews, with the New York Journal American rating it one of his best performances, and the film, made for Universal, was a box office hit.


Later in 1957, James Cagney ventured behind the camera for the first and only time to direct Short Cut to Hell, a remake of the 1941 Alan Ladd film This Gun for Hire, which in turn was based on the Graham Greene novel A Gun for Sale.


James Cagney refused all offers of payment, saying he was an actor, not a director.


In 1959 James Cagney played a labor leader in what proved to be his final musical, Never Steal Anything Small, which featured a comical song and dance duet with Cara Williams, who played his girlfriend.


James Cagney had hoped to spend some time tracing his Irish ancestry, but time constraints and poor weather meant that he was unable to do so.


James Cagney was hand-picked by Billy Wilder to play a hard-driving Coca-Cola executive in the film One, Two, Three.


James Cagney had concerns with the script, remembering back 23 years to Boy Meets Girl, in which scenes were reshot to try to make them funnier by speeding up the pacing, with the opposite effect.


James Cagney received assurances from Wilder that the script was balanced.


James Cagney felt he had worked too many years inside studios, and combined with a visit to Dachau concentration camp during filming, he decided that he had had enough, and retired afterward.


James Cagney made few public appearances, preferring to spend winters in Los Angeles, and summers either at his Martha's Vineyard farm or at Verney Farms in New York.


James Cagney was diagnosed with glaucoma and began taking eye drops, but continued to have vision problems.


On Zimmermann's recommendation, he visited a different doctor, who determined that glaucoma had been a misdiagnosis, and that James Cagney was actually diabetic.


Zimmermann then took it upon herself to look after James Cagney, preparing his meals to reduce his blood triglycerides, which had reached alarming levels.


Such was her success that, by the time James Cagney made a rare public appearance at his American Film Institute Life Achievement Award ceremony in 1974, he had lost 20 pounds and his vision had improved.


James Cagney made a rare TV appearance in the lead role of the movie Terrible Joe Moran in 1984.


James Cagney's health was fragile and more strokes had confined him to a wheelchair, but the producers worked his real-life mobility problem into the story.


In 1920, James Cagney was a member of the chorus for the show Pitter Patter, where he met Frances Willard "Billie" Vernon.


James Cagney was a very private man, and while he was willing to give the press opportunities for photographs, he generally spent his personal time out of the public eye.


James Cagney's son died from a heart attack on January 27,1984, in Washington, DC, two years before his father's death.


James Cagney III had become estranged from him, and they had not seen or talked to one another since 1982.


James Cagney loved that no paved roads surrounded the property, only dirt tracks.


In 1955, having shot three films, James Cagney bought a 120-acre farm in Stanfordville, Dutchess County, New York, for $100,000.


James Cagney named it Verney Farm, taking the first syllable from Billie's maiden name and the second from his own surname.


James Cagney turned it into a working farm, selling some of the dairy cattle and replacing them with beef cattle.


James Cagney expanded it over the years to 750 acres.


Rather than just "turning up with Ava Gardner on my arm" to accept his honorary degree, James Cagney turned the tables upon the college's faculty by writing and submitting a paper on soil conservation.


James Cagney was born in 1899 and loved horses from childhood.


James Cagney was a keen sailor and owned boats that were harbored on both coasts of the US, including the Swift of Ipswich.


James Cagney greatly enjoyed painting, and claimed in his autobiography that he might have been happier, if somewhat poorer, as a painter than a movie star.


James Cagney often gave away his work but refused to sell his paintings, considering himself an amateur.


James Cagney signed and sold only one painting, purchased by Johnny Carson to benefit a charity.


James Cagney publicly refused to pay and James Cagney even threatened that, if the studios took a day's pay for Merriam's campaign, he would give a week's pay to Upton Sinclair, Merriam's opponent in the race.


James Cagney supported political activist and labor leader Thomas Mooney's defense fund, but was repelled by the behavior of some of Mooney's supporters at a rally.


James Cagney was accused of being a communist sympathizer in 1934, and again in 1940.


The accusation in 1934 stemmed from a letter police found from a local Communist official that alleged that James Cagney would bring other Hollywood stars to meetings.


James Cagney denied this, and Lincoln Steffens, husband of the letter's writer, backed up this denial, asserting that the accusation stemmed solely from James Cagney's donation to striking cotton workers in the San Joaquin Valley.


William James Cagney claimed this donation was the root of the charges in 1940.


James Cagney became president of the Screen Actors Guild in 1942 for a two-year term.


James Cagney took a role in the Guild's fight against the Mafia, which had begun to take an active interest in the movie industry.


James Cagney alleged that, having failed to scare off the Guild and him, they sent a hitman to kill him by dropping a heavy light onto his head.


James Cagney let the Army practice maneuvers at his Martha's Vineyard farm.


James Cagney had worked on Democrat Franklin D Roosevelt's presidential campaigns, including the 1940 presidential election against Wendell Willkie.


James Cagney died of a heart attack at his Dutchess County farm in Stanford, New York, on Easter Sunday 1986; he was 86 years old.


James Cagney's pallbearers included boxer Floyd Patterson, dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, actor Ralph Bellamy, and director Milos Forman.


James Cagney was interred in a crypt in the Garden Mausoleum at Cemetery of the Gate of Heaven in Hawthorne, New York.


In 1974, James Cagney received the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award.


James Cagney received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1980, and a Career Achievement Award from the US National Board of Review in 1981.


On May 19,2015, a new musical celebrating James Cagney, and dramatizing his relationship with Warner Bros.