James Francis Cagney.  Born July 17, 1899, New York City's Lower East Side, second of five children.  Had numerous jobs (and fights) while growing up.memory
Graduated high school, ambition was to become an artist.

Attended Columbia University School of Fine Arts,  began appearing in plays put on by  Lenox Hill Settlement House.

By 1920 was hired as chorus boy on Broadway.  Met  Frances "Billie" Vernon, married in 1921,  marriage lasted 65 years. Adopted two children in 1940 - a boy named James, Jr., and his sister Cathleen, called Casey.

Toured in vaudeville, had parts in dramas and in musicals, gradually worked his way up to starring roles. One, Penny Arcade, sold to Warner Bros, made as  Sinner's Holiday -- Cagney signed to a contract on the strength of that performance.

wrong guyFifth film for Warner's was The Public Enemy (1931) -- Cagney became, and stayed, one of studio's top stars for over 20 years.  Made films for MGM, Paramount, Universal in the '50s, retired from acting in 1961 -- with one return to the screen in 1981's Ragtime.

Modest, private man off the screen.  Lived out his childhood dream of residing on a farm, staying close to the land, from the '30s til the end of his life.

James Cagney died on March 30, 1986.


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