James Cagney

About James Cagney

James Francis Cagney Jr. (July 17, 1899 – March 30, 1986) was an American actor and dancer. On stage and in film, Cagney was known for his consistently energetic performances, distinctive vocal style, and deadpan comic timing, winning acclaim and major awards for a variety of performances. He is remembered for playing multifaceted tough guys, such as ‘The Public Enemy’, ‘Taxi!’, ‘Angels with Dirty Faces’, ‘The Roaring Twenties’, ‘City for Conquest’ and ‘White Heat’, finding himself typecast or limited by this reputation earlier in his career. 

In his first professional acting performance in 1919, Cagney was costumed as a woman in the performance of ‘Every Sailor’. He spent several years in vaudeville as a dancer and comedian, until he got his first major acting part in 1925. He secured several other roles before landing the lead in the 1929 play ‘Penny Arcade’. In 1938, he received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his role in ‘Angels with Dirty Faces’. In 1942, Cagney won the Oscar for his energetic portrayal of George M. Cohan in ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’, with a third nomination in 1955 for ‘Love Me or Leave Me’. 

James Cagney retired from acting and dancing in 1961 to spend time on his farm with his family. He came out of retirement 20 years later for a part in the movie ‘Ragtime’, mainly to aid his recovery from a stroke. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked him eighth among its list of greatest male stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Learn More…

James Cagney