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.”