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James Cagney

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James Cagney Biography and Filmography
James Cagney
Birthday: December 31, 1969
Birth Place: New York, New York, USA
Height: 5' 7"
Below is a complete filmography (list of movies he's appeared in)
for James Cagney.
If you have any corrections or additions, please email us.
We'd also be interested in any trivia or other information you have.
One of Hollywood's pre-eminent male stars of all time (eclipsed, perhaps, only by "King" Clark Gable and arguably by Gary Cooper or Spencer Tracy), and the cinema's quintessential "tough guy." Was also an accomplished if rather stiff hoofer and easily played light comedy. Ending three decades on the screen, retired to his farm in Stanfordville, New York (some 77 miles/124 km. north of his New York City birthplace), after starring in Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three (1961). Emerged from retirement to star in the 1981 screen adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's novel Ragtime (1981), in which he was reunited with his frequent co-star of the 30's, the actor 'Pat O'Brien', and which was his last theatrical film. (Ironically - or fittingly, if one prefers - it was O'Brien's last film as well.) Cagney's final performance came in the title role of the made-for-TV movie Terrible Joe Moran (1984) (TV), in which he played opposite Art Carney.
Terrible Joe Moran (1984)
[ Ellen Barkin ]
Ragtime (1981)
[ Fran Drescher ][ Mary Steenburgen ][ Elizabeth McGovern ]
Arizona Bushwhackers (1968)
[ Yvonne De-Carlo ]
The Ballad of Smokey the Bear (1966)
One, Two, Three (1961)
[ Pamela Tiffin ]
The Gallant Hours (1960)
Shake Hands with the Devil (1959)
[ Glynis Johns ][ Dana Wynter ]
Never Steal Anything Small (1959)
[ Shirley Jones ]
Man of a Thousand Faces (1957)
[ Dorothy Malone ]
These Wilder Years (1956)
[ Barbara Stanwyck ]
Tribute to a Bad Man (1956)
[ Irene Pappa ]
Mister Roberts (1955)
The Seven Little Foys (1955)
[ Leslie Hope ]
Love Me or Leave Me (1955)
[ Doris Day ]
Run for Cover (1955)
[ Viveca Lindfors ]
A Lion Is in the Streets (1953)
[ Anne Francis ]
What Price Glory (1952)
Starlift (1951)
[ Doris Day ][ Jane Wyman ]
Come Fill the Cup (1951)
The West Point Story (1950)
[ Doris Day ]
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950)
White Heat (1949)
The Time of Your Life (1948)
13 Rue Madeleine (1947)
Blood on the Sun (1945)
Johnny Come Lately (1943)
[ Margaret Hamilton ][ Hattie McDaniel ]
You, John Jones! (1943)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
Captains of the Clouds (1942)
The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941)
[ Betty Davis ]
The Strawberry Blonde (1941)
[ Olivia de Havilland ][ Rita Hayworth ]
City for Conquest (1940)
[ Jo Kennedy ]
Torrid Zone (1940)
The Fighting 69th (1940)
The Roaring Twenties (1939)
Each Dawn I Die (1939)
The Oklahoma Kid (1939)
Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
Boy Meets Girl (1938)
Something to Sing About (1937)
Great Guy (1936)
Ceiling Zero (1936)
Devil Dogs of the Air (1935)
Frisco Kid (1935)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)
[ Olivia de Havilland ]
The Irish in Us (1935)
[ Olivia de Havilland ]
'G' Men (1935)
The St. Louis Kid (1934)
Here Comes the Navy (1934)
[ Gloria Stuart ]
He Was Her Man (1934)
[ Joan Blondell ]
Jimmy the Gent (1934)
[ Betty Davis ]
Lady Killer (1933)
Footlight Parade (1933)
[ Joan Blondell ][ Dorothy Lamour ]
The Mayor of Hell (1933)
Picture Snatcher (1933)
Hard to Handle (1933)
Winner Take All (1932)
The Crowd Roars (1932)
[ Joan Blondell ]
Taxi! (1932)
[ Loretta Young ]
The Public Enemy (1931)
[ Jean Harlow ][ Joan Blondell ]
Other Men's Women (1931)
[ Joan Blondell ]
Blonde Crazy (1931)
[ Joan Blondell ]
Smart Money (1931)
The Millionaire (1931)
The Doorway to Hell (1930)
Sinners' Holiday (1930)
[ Joan Blondell ]
  • Cagney's first job as an entertainer was as a female dancer in a chorus line.
  • According to his authorized biography, Cagney, although of Irish and Norwegian extraction, could speak Yiddish since he had grown up in a heavily Jewish area in New York. He used to converse in Yiddish with Jewish performers like Sylvia Sidney.
  • Ranked #45 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
  • Brother of actor-producer William Cagney and of actress Jeanne Cagney.
  • Films co-starring James Cagney and 'Pat O'Brien' were these 9: Here Comes the Navy (1934), Devil Dogs of the Air (1935), The Irish in Us (1935), Boy Meets Girl (1938), Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), Torrid Zone (1940), The Fighting 69th (1940), Ceiling Zero (1936), as well as their finale together, four decades later, Ragtime (1981).
  • American Film Institute Life Achievement Award [1974]
  • Interred at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, New York, USA.
  • President of Screen Actors Guild (SAG). [1942-1944]
  • Convinced decorated war hero Audie Murphy to go into acting.
  • His widow Frances (nicknamed 'Bill') outlived Cagney by eight years, dying aged 95 in 1994.
  • Father of actor James Cagney Jr.
  • Pictured on a 33¢ USA commemorative postage stamp in the Legends of Hollywood series, issued 22 July 1999.
  • Had two adopted children, Casey and James Jr.
  • Was best friends with actors 'Pat O'Brien' and 'Frank McHugh'
  • Earned a Black Belt in Judo.
  • He was voted the 14th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
  • Extraordinarily (for Hollywood), he never cheated on his wife Frances, resulting in a marriage that lasted 64 years (ending with his death). The closest he came was nearly giving into a seduction attempt by Merle Oberon while the two stars were on tour to entertain WWII GIs.
  • Despite the common perception that he was full-blooded Irish of origin this was not all-together true. His grandfather was from Norway, but as he told an interviewer shortly before his death in 1986: "My mother's father, my Grandpa Nelson, was a Norwegian sea captain, but when I tried to investigate those roots I didn't get very far, for he had apparently changed his name to another one that made it impossible to identify him within the rest of the population."
  • Was of Irish-Norwegian origin.
  • His electric acting style was a huge influence on future generations of actors. Actors as diverse as Clint Eastwood and Malcolm McDowell point to him as their number one influence to become actors.
  • Lived in a Gramercy Park building in New York City that was also occupied by Margaret Hamilton and now boasts Jimmy Fallon as one of its tennants.
  • Though most Cagney imitators use the line "You dirty rat!", Cagney never actually said it in any of his films.
  • According to James Cagney's autobiography "Cagney By Cagney", (Published by Doubleday and Company Inc 1976, and actually ghost written by show biz biographer Jack McCabe), A Mafia plan to murder Cagney by dropping a several hundred pound klieg light on top of him was stopped at the insistence of George Raft. Cagney at that time was President of the Screen Actors Guild, and was determined not to let the mob infiltrate the industry. Raft used his 'many' mob connections to cancel the hit.
  • He was voted the 11th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Premiere Magazine.
  • Named the #8 greatest Actor on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends List by The American Film Institute
  • According to his autobiography (which was ghost written by show biz biographer Jack McCabe), his brother Bill, who was also his manager, actively pursued the role of Cohan in the ultra-patriotic film "Yankee Doodle Dandy" as a way of removing the "taint" of Cagney's radical activities in the 1930s, when he was a "strong Roosevelt liberal." When Cohan himself learned about Cagney's background as a song-and-dance man in vaudeville, he okay-ed him for the project.
  • Lost the role of Knute Rockne to his friend Pat O'Brien when the administration of Notre Dame - which had approval over all aspects of the filming - nixed Cagney because of his support of the far-left (and anti-Catholic) Spanish Republic in the then-ongoing Spanish Civil War.
  • Originally a very left-wing Democrat activist during the 1930s, Cagney later switched his viewpoint and became progressively more conservative with age. He supported his friend Ronald Reagan's campaigns for the Presidency in 1980 and 1984. President Reagan delivered the eulogy at Cagney's funeral in 1986.
  • His performance as George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) is ranked #6 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
  • His performance as Tom Powers in "The Public Enemy" (1931) is ranked #57 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
  • "Yankee Doodle Dandy" is ranked #88 on the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time.
  • Often said that he did not understand the method actors like Marlon Brando. Cagney admitted that he used his own personal experiences to help create his performances and encouraged other actors to do so, but he did not understand actors who felt a need to go to the extreme length that method actors went to.

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