Twentynine Palms is blessed to be James Cagney’s desert retreat home. He loved 29. It was a place where he found solitude and quiet peace and enjoyment. This summer will mark his birthday and the silver anniversary of his passing.
* Cagney played piano at the 29 Palms Inn, and he melted into the community where he attended receptions and gatherings. He spent many years retreating to his 29 Palms home. He professed to be happier as a painter than an actor.
There is more to James Cagney that meets the eye. It’s a challenge to find a more ethical, decent and downright wholesome human being.
Cagney began his career as a child-star in his family’s vaudeville show. His first job as an adult entertainer was as a female dancer in a chorus line. While in the chorus he earned $55 a week, of which he sent $40 a week home to his mother!
Cagney defied typecasting by giving acclaimed performances in his 1935 Shakespearean drama A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Cagney gave a magnificent and spellbinding performances in the musical Yankee Doodle Dandy. The film being number 100 on the American Film institute’s top-100 movies of all time.
Never have I seen awesome dancing like Cagney. It just captures you. Yankee Doodle Went to Town became an American patriotic song. If I were destine to return to this crazy (but beautiful) planet as someone else, Mr. Cagney is my choice.
Cagney wasn’t a dancer by Astaire’s standards, or a singer by anybody’s but he was such a good actor he could fake it: “Cagney can’t really dance or sing,” observes the critic Edwin Jahiel, “but he acts so vigorously that it creates an illusion, and for dance-steps he substitutes a patented brand of robust, jerky walks, runs and other motions.”
I beg readers to view his historic Yankee Doodle dance sequence: http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/238963/Yankee-Doodle-Dandy-Movie-Clip-Yankee-Doodle-Boy.html
I urge you to view this short and incredibly staccato slap off/punching video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41N43xVIiqQ
Or this 33 second classic dancing down the stairway video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlvB4xk4LNQ
Interesting info about Mr. Cagney
James Cagney stared as a silent film legend Lon Chaney. He served as president of the Screen Actors Guild. He practiced martial arts, earning a black belt in Judo. Cagney was of Irish-Norwegian origin. His best friends Frank McHugh & Pat O’Brien, were known collectively and affectionately as the ‘Irish Mafia’ in the rough East side section of New York City where he grew up. Cagney never cheated on his wife Frances, resulting in a marriage that lasted 64 years (ending with his death). And he is pictured on a 33¢ USA commemorative postage stamp
With me, a career was the simple matter of putting groceries on the table.
A career was the simple matter of putting groceries on the table.
There’s not much to say about acting but this. Never settle back on your heels. Never relax. If you relax, the audience relaxes. And always mean everything you say.
I still think of myself essentially as a vaudevillian, as a song and dance man.
* 29 Palms Chamber of Commerce Community Guide Publication
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