James Cagney

(1899–1986)

James Cagney

Anecdote...

James Cagney’s wife often commented on her husband’s memory. In one story she told, she and Cagney were getting into a car in New York City when he spotted a man across the street. Cagney pointed him out and said, “His name is Nathan Skidelsky. He sat next to me in school.”

Mrs. Cagney was doubtful. Prodigious memory or not, she couldn’t believe that her husband could identify someone he hadn’t seen for decades. So she challenged him to prove that his claim was true. Cagney accepted the challenge, crossed the street, and talked with the man.

“And you know what?” Mrs. Cagney said. “It was Nathan Skidelsky. The only problem was, he didn’t remember who James Cagney was.”

Biographical Note: 

James Cagney was a U.S. vaudeville star, film actor and director. Cagney was born in New York City. Graduating from vaudeville to the Broadway stage, he made his film debut in Sinner’s Holiday (1930). A leading role in The Public Enemy (1931) established him as the quintessential screen gangster, and he played thugs through most of the 1930s. His performance in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), as George M. Cohan, earned him an Oscar. After that movie, he appeared in a variety of roles.

More Information: 

Read a short biography of James Cagney.
You can also order a biography of the star, Cagney [by John McCabe] online from Amazon.com.