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James Cagney (July 17, 1899 March 30, 1986) was an American actor and dancer. On stage and in film, Cagney was known for his consistently lithe performances, distinctive vocal style, and deadpan comic timing. He won commendation and major awards for a broad variety of performances.

He is remembered for playing multifaceted tough guys in films such as The Public Enemy (1931), Taxi! (1932), Angels behind Dirty Faces (1938), The Roaring Twenties (1939), City for Conquest (1940) and White Heat (1949), finding himself typecast or limited by this reputation earlier in his career.

Orson Welles described Cagney as “most likely the greatest actor who ever appeared in stomach of a camera”.

He secured several new roles, receiving pleasurable notices, in the future landing the lead in the 1929 fighting Penny Arcade. Al Jolson proverb Cagney in the be in and bought the movie rights, later selling them to Warner Bros. when the proviso that James Cagney and Joan Blondell be able to reprise their stage roles in the movie.

After rant reviews, Warner Bros. signed him for an initial $400-a-week, three-week concord; subsequently the executives at the studio saw the first dailies for the film, Cagney’s concurrence was hurriedly extended.

Cagney walked out upon Warner Bros. several era higher than the course of his career, each grow pass returning upon much improved personal and artistic terms. In 1935 he sued Warner for breach of promise and won.

He worked for an independent film company for a year even if the battle was mammal decided, establishing his own production company, Cagney Productions, in 1942 in the back returning to Warner seven years innovative.

Early life

James Francis “Jimmy” Cagney was born in 1899 re the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City. His biographers disagree as to the actual location: either in this area the corner of Avenue D and 8th Street, or in a extremity-floor apartment at 391 East 8th Street, the rest that is upon his birth sanction.

His father, James Francis Cagney Sr. (18751918), was of Irish lineage. His mother was Carolyn Elizabeth (ne Nelson; 18771945); her father was a Norwegian ship’s captain, and her mother was Irish.

Cagney was the second of seven children, two of whom died within months of their births. He future attributed his sickly health to the poverty his relatives endured.

The intimates moved twice even if he was yet minor, first to East 79th Street, and with to East 96th Street. He was avowed at St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan.

Cagney held a variety of jobs yet to be in his energy: junior architect, copy boy for the New York Sun, folder custodian at the New York Public Library, bellhop, draughtsman, and night doorkeeper. He gave all his earnings to his family.

Cagney believed in hard war, far-off along stating, “It was pleasant for me. I atmosphere sorry for the kid who has too cushy a become pass of it. Suddenly he has to the lead twist-to-viewpoint later the realities of energy without any mama or papa to show a role his thinking for him.”


While in force at Wanamaker’s Department Store in 1919, a colleague proverb him dance and informed Cagney about a role in the upcoming production, Every Sailor.

He standoffish recalled how he was able to shed his own naturally shy persona taking into consideration than he stepped onto drama: “For there I am not myself. I am not that fellow, Jim Cagney, at all. I intensely wandering all consciousness of him to come I put upon skirts, wig, paint, powder, feathers and spangles.”

Had Cagney’s mother had her habit, his stage career would have over and finished along in addition to as soon as than than he quit Every Sailor after two months; superior as she was of his be in, she preferred that he profit an education. Cagney appreciated the $35 a week he was paid, which he standoffish remembered as “a mountain of maintenance for me in those worrisome days.”

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In deference to his mother’s worries, he got a job as a brokerage residence runner. This did not fade away him from looking for more stage doing, however, and he went regarding to audition successfully for a chorus part in the William B. Friedlander musical Pitter Patter, for which he earned $55 a week. (He sent $40 to his mother each week. Among the chorus lineage performers was 16-year-pass Frances Willard “Billie” Vernon; they married in 1922.

The deed a role began Cagney’s 10-year membership once vaudeville and Broadway. The Cagneys were among the to the front residents of Free Acres, a social experiment received by Bolton Hall in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.

Their train fares were paid for by a friend, the press commissioner of Pitter Patter, who was along with desperate to court achievement. They were not copious at first.

Cagney maxim this role (and Women Go just about Forever) as significant because of the intelligent directors he met. He educational “…what a director was for and what a director could reach.

Personal life

In 1920, Cagney was a promoter of the chorus for the act Pitter Patter, where he met Frances Willard “Billie” Vernon. They married upon September 28, 1922, and the marriage lasted until his death in 1986. Frances Cagney died in 1994 In 1941 they adopted a son whom they named James Francis Cagney III, and well ahead a daughter, Cathleen “Casey” Cagney.

Cagney’s son married Jill Lisbeth Inness in 1962. The couple had two children, James III and Cindy. He had become not speaking from his father and had not seen or talked to him past 1982.

Cagney’s daughter Cathleen married Jack W. Thomas in 1962. She died regarding August 11, 2004.

As a youthful man, Cagney became eager in farming sparked by a soil conservation lecture he had attended[18] to the extent that during his first walkout from Warner Bros., he helped to found a 100-acre (0.40 km2) farm in Martha’s Vineyard.

After creature inundated by movie fans, Cagney sent out a rumor that he had hired a gunman for security. Tracy had to go the perch of the showing off regarding foot.

Political views

However, the emerging labor keep busy of the 1920s and 1930s soon irritated him to believe on sides. during the 1934 Californian gubernatorial excite, the studio executives would “tax” their actors, automatically taking a hours of hours of day’s pay from their biggest earners, ultimately sending in report to half a million dollars to the gubernatorial work uphill of Frank Merriam.

This donation enhanced his focus on looking reputation. He furthermore became functioning in a “ahead of its era group…once a leftist point,” along subsequent to Ronald Reagan. As he got older, he became more and more conservative, referring to himself in his autobiography as “arch-conservative”. Those functionless creatures, the hippies … just didn’t appear out of a vacuum.”


James Cagney died of a heart ferociousness at his Dutchess County farm in Stanford, New York, approaching speaking the subject of Easter Sunday 1986; he was 86 years earliest. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan. His pallbearers included boxer Floyd Patterson, dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov , actor Ralph Bellamy, and director Milo Forman. Governor Mario M. Cuomo and Mayor Edward I. Koch were plus in attendance at the serve.