James Cagney

Actor + Dancer
Born Jul 17, 1899

James Francis Cagney, Jr. was an American actor, first on stage, then in film, where he had his greatest impact. Although he won acclaim and major awards for a wide variety of performances, he is best remembered for playing tough guys. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked him eighth among its 50 Greatest American Screen Legends. In his first professional acting performance, he danced dressed as a woman in the chorus line of the 1919 revue Every Sailor.… Read More

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1899 Birth Born on July 17, 1899.


1918 18 Years Old 1 More Event
The red-haired, blue-eyed Cagney graduated from Stuyvesant High School in New York City, in 1918, and attended Columbia College of Columbia University, where he intended to major in Art.
1919 19 Years Old While working at Wanamaker's Department Store in 1919, Cagney learned, from a colleague who had seen him dance, of a role in the upcoming production Every Sailor. … Read More


1922 22 Years Old 1 More Event
…  Among the chorus line performers was 16-year-old Frances Willard "Billie" Vernon, whom he married in 1922. … Read More
1924 - 1925 2 More Events
1926 26 Years Old Cagney secured the lead role in the 1926–27 season West End production of Broadway by George Abbott. … Read More
1928 28 Years Old He had built a reputation as an innovative teacher, so when he was cast as the lead in Grand Street Follies of 1928, he was also appointed the choreographer. … Read More


1931 31 Years Old Warner Bros. was quick to team its two rising gangster stars—Edward G. Robinson and Cagney—for the 1931 film Smart Money. … Read More
1932 32 Years Old …  Cagney's first film upon returning from New York was 1932's Taxi! … Read More
1933 33 Years Old 1 More Event
…  This experience was an integral reason for his involvement in forming the Screen Actors Guild in 1933.
His next notable film was 1934's Here Comes the Navy, which paired him with Pat O'Brien for the first time. … Read More
1936 36 Years Old Cagney also became involved in political causes, and in 1936, agreed to sponsor the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League. … Read More
1938 38 Years Old 1 More Event
Cagney's two films of 1938, Boy Meets Girl and Angels with Dirty Faces, both costarred Pat O'Brien. … Read More
1939 39 Years Old 1 More Event
He completed his first decade of movie-making in 1939 with The Roaring Twenties, his first film with Raoul Walsh and his last with Bogart. … Read More


1940 40 Years Old After the war, Cagney's politics started to change. He had worked on Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidential campaigns, including the 1940 presidential election against Wendell Willkie. … Read More
…  In 1942, Cagney won the Oscar for his energetic portrayal of George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy. … Read More
1943 43 Years Old Almost a year after its creation, Cagney Productions produced its first film, Johnny Come Lately, in 1943. … Read More
1949 49 Years Old Cagney's portrayal of Cody Jarrett in the 1949 film White Heat is one of his most memorable. … Read More


1950 - 1953 2 More Events
1955 55 Years Old 1 More Event
Cagney's next notable role was the 1955 film Love Me or Leave Me, his third with Day. … Read More
1956 56 Years Old In 1956, Cagney undertook one of his very rare television roles, starring in Robert Montgomery's Soldiers From the War Returning. … Read More
1957 57 Years Old Later in 1957, Cagney ventured behind the camera for the first and only time to direct Short Cut to Hell, a remake of the 1941 Alan Ladd film This Gun for Hire, which in turn was based on the Graham Greene novel A Gun for Sale. … Read More
1959 59 Years Old In 1959, Cagney played a labor leader in what proved to be his final musical, Never Steal Anything Small, which featured a comical song and dance duet with Cara Williams, who played his girlfriend. … Read More


1960 60 Years Old Cagney's career began winding down, and he made only one film in 1960, the critically acclaimed The Gallant Hours, in which he played Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey. … Read More
1962 63 Years Old 1 More Event
Cagney's son married Jill Lisbeth Inness in 1962. … Read More
1974 - 1977 2 More Events
1980 81 Years Old 1 More Event
Cagney's frequent co-star, Pat O'Brien, appeared with him on the British chat show Parkinson in the early 1980s and they both made a surprise appearance at the Queen Mother's command birthday performance at the London Palladium in 1980. … Read More
Cagney made a rare TV appearance in the lead role of the movie Terrible Joe Moran in 1984.
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