Irish George M Cohan: The Yankee Doodle Dandy!

Irish George M Cohan: The Yankee Doodle Dandy!

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George M Cohan
George M Cohan



George M Cohan
George M Cohan

Happy birthday, Irish-American entertainer, playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer, and theatrical producer George Michael Cohan. His life and music were depicted in the Oscar-winning film Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) and the 1968 musical George M! A statue of Cohan in Times Square, New York City commemorates his contributions to American musical theatre.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, on July 3, 1878, to Irish Catholic parents Jeremiah “Jere” (Keohane) Cohan (1848-1917) and Helen “Nellie” Costigan Cohan (1854-1928). The Baptismal Certificate from St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church indicated that Cohan was born on July 3, but he and his family always asserted that he was “Born on July Fourth!” His paternal ancestors were from County Cork, Ireland. The original surname was O’Caomhan, but it was changed to Keohane, which eventually became Cohan; the grandmother was a Breen; and someone was from Ballymena, County Antrim. Family were touring vaudeville performers – “The Four Cohans”; therefore, he began acting at the age of eight.

Spouses: Grace Ethel Fowler Levey (m 1899-1907), Agnes Mary Nolan (m 1907-1942). GMC authored, produced, and performed in over 36 Broadway musicals. Wrote 40 plays and collaborated on the development of 150 others. Took part in over a thousand performances, penned over five hundred songs, created over fifty stage productions, and acted in films until the 1930s, while continuing to play as a headliner until 1940. Considered the “Father of American Musical Comedy” and known as “The Man Who Owned Broadway.”

James Cagney played Cohan in the 1942 biopic Yankee Doodle Dandy and in the 1955 film The Seven Little Foys. Cagney won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Dandy.

Mickey Rooney played Cohan in Mr. Broadway, a television special broadcast on May 11, 1957. The same month, Rooney released a 78 RPM record featuring Rooney singing Cohan’s best-known songs on the A-side.

On November 5, 1942, GMC died of cancer at the age of 64 in Manhattan; his burial at St. Patrick’s Cathedral was attended by thousands, including prominent politicians, and the honorary pallbearers were “Broadway’s leading names”; he was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx.

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Dr. Anton Anderssen
Dr. Anton Anderssen has been published by USA Today, CBSnewsDetroit, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Mensa Bulletin, Broadway World, eTurboNews, Hawaii Tourism Association, HawaiiNews.Online, Michigan Journal, Examiner News and other news outlets. He won the 2009 first prize in journalism from the Detroit Working writers organization, founded 1900 as The Detroit Press Club. He graduated With Highest Distinction from Indiana University (Comparative Literature), earned a Juris Doctor degree (Wayne State University), attended post-doctorate graduate classes in anthropology (University of Michigan), and earned a post-doctorate graduate degree in cultural anthropology (Wayne State University). He is a former concert pianist with Indiana University School of Music and the Detroit Institute of Arts. He is a member of Mensa and several other high IQ organizations including Triple Nine Society, ISPE and The Prometheus Society. He specializes in high culture, and is of Scandinavian, British and Castilian heritage. He is The Supreme Historian for Knights of Equity, founded in 1895. He holds the legal title Lord of Hartforth in North Yorkshire, England, and is the direct blood descendant of the first Lord of Hartforth, documented in the Domesday Survey of 1086. He is the direct blood descendant of Plantagenet Kings of England and the Lords Kennedy of Scotland. He lives in Waikiki, Hawaii, Michigan, The Italian Riviera, London England, The Italian Alps, and Milan Italy. He is a docent at The Iolani Palace in Honolulu Hawaii, the only official royal residence in the United States.