Last month, I read Mr. Cagney's autobiography, Cagney by Cagney. It is a fascinating, delightful read, and by the time I reached the end, I was more enamored of this fabulous actor than ever. I thought it would be fun to share bits and pieces of some of the wonderful things I've read, and since Yankee Doodle Dandy is our family's annual 4th of July movie, I decided to start with Mr. Cagney's thoughts about that film---the one which garnered him his only Academy Award win.
When asked which of his films was his favorite, Mr. Cagney responded: "In just about every interview, most conversations, one question emerges unfailingly: what is my favorite picture? Many people assume that one of those knock-down-drag-'em-outs would be my choice. A discerning critic like Peter Bogdanovich can't understand why I choose Yankee Doodle Dandy over White Heat and The Public Enemy. The answer is simple, and it derives from George M. Cohan's comment about himself: once a song-and-dance-man, always a song-and-dance-man. In that brief statement, you have my life story; those few words tell as much about me professionally as there is to tell."
About preparing for his role:
"Psychologically, I needed no preparation for Yankee Doodle Dandy, or professionally either. I didn't have to pretend to be a song-and-dance-man. I was one."
About George M. Cohan:
"Fortunately before George M. (Cohan) died, he was able to see Yankee Doodle Dandy, and he gave it his blessing. I like to think that this only contact we had was professionally appropriate: one song-and-dance man saluting another, the greatest of our calling."
I'll be sharing more snippets from this wonderful book throughout the month. Join me, please, as you are able.