A Tribute to James Cagney
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This article was originally written to celebrate what would have been James Cagney’s 100th birthday, and it would have been great to deliver birthday wishes to him while he was still with us. Because, for somebody who played so many hoods and tough characters during his career, Cagney was a truly nice guy.
James Francis Cagney was born on the Lower East Side of New York. He worked a lot of jobs to get by, and his parents helped him pursue his goal of being an entertainer. By the time he was in his 20s he was starring on Broadway.
He made his first film appearance in 1930, and had his big breakthrough a year later in The Public Enemy. Though he could have gotten himself typecast as a hood, he was much more than that, as his performance in Footlight Parade (1933) clearly indicated.
Jimmy Cagney could do anything. He created some unforgettable tough guy originals in Public Enemy. The Roaring Twenties (1939), and White Heat (1949), made us believe he was George M. Cohan, Admiral Halsey, and Lon Chaney, and then came back at the end of his career, after a long retirement, to play the top New York cop inRagtime, in which he appeared with his old pal and fellow member of the “Irish Mafia,” Pat O’Brien. He was nominated three times for Best Actor, and won once for Yankee Doodle Dandy.
You’ll find a lot more information on the Web sites listed in this article, beginning with his complete filmography and other details from the Internet Movie Database, and continuing with a couple of very nice tribute sites. Please note that this article has four pages, so don’t forget to click below for Parts II, III, and IV.
Part I: Introduction
Part III: Movie Reviews & Where to Find His Films
Part IV: Photos, Art, & Posters