Happy birthday to some real yankee doodle dandies
Today is the OM’s birthday so let’s all sing a rousing chorus of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”!
And here’s a special rendition of “Shine On August Moon” just for you:
It should be noted that July 17 is also the birthday of the great James Cagney (July 17, 1899 – March 30, 1986). I must say I was not a fan of his as a child/young adult. He is an acquired taste, but I have grown to appreciate him over the years. For years he was type-cast as a gangster, but he won an Oscar for playing a song-and-dance man in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). He is sensational in White Heat (1949) as the devoted son and psychopathic killer. It was his portrayal of Lon Chaney in Man of a Thousand Faces (1957) that made me an admirer.
I remember watching this melodramatic movie with the boy when he was a small child. He was quite struck by the story and I think he actually wept during the scene when Lon’s young son Creighton is taken away from him. It prompted me to take a deeper look at Cagney who is indeed impressive in the film.
He was also quite a hoofer and his distinctive dance style was admired by the likes of Barishnikov, who was actually a pall bearer at his funeral. Check it out here–he’s like a marionette!
By the way, Ronald Reagan (U.S. President at the time) gave the eulogy at his funeral. Now that’s impressive.
So hats off to the OM and to James Cagney–let’s toast them both tonight!