This, I believe, is the last of my New York pictures from our trip couple of weeks ago. (and there was much rejoicing) I dragged The Dormouse to see this statue in Times Square and gave her a lecture about the wonder that is George M. Cohan. These are clearly important things. Things that she's not going to learn in school, but must know if she is to survive in my family.

He's actually one of my personal heroes, George M. Some of the best music to come out of the 20th century was written by him.
Harrigan, Forty-five Minutes from Broadway, Mary's a Grand Old Name, Give My Regards to Broadway and scores of others. And then there's his patriotic music, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Over There, You're a Grand Old Flag, which earned him the Congressional Gold Medal for his contribution to the war effort and his ability to lift the spirits of the country and those serving in the military through his music. He was the first musician given this honor. Previously it had gone only to military and political leaders, philanthropists, scientists, inventors, and explorers. George M. is just one more example of how lives can be touched by music. And for that, I thank him... and his mother, and his sister, and his father.

I have to admit though, that I'm not sure I'd be such a George M. fan were it not for James Cagney, who played him twice in his career, in Yankee Doodle Dandy (he won an Academy Award for that one) and The Seven Little Foys. Most people know Cagney for his stereotypical gangster roles. Me? I know him as a hoofer. In fact, Cagney and Cohan are so intertwined in my brain because of these two movies that I often easily gloss over into talking about Cagney when I'm discussing Cohan and vice versa. If you haven't seen either of these films, you really owe it to yourself to catch them some time.

My favorite story about Cagney is one that I've heard all my life and is probably apocryphal - though I hope not. It's that early in his career, entirely on a whim, he decided to try out for the role of a chorus girl in an all male review. In the course of the audition, he was asked if he could dance. He'd never had a dance lesson in his life, but knowing that he wouldn't get the role otherwise said, "Uhhhh... sure I can dance," and figured he'd learn the steps later. In years after that, he never really had any formal dance training; he just moved well and could pick up steps easily.

Take a look at that guy who had no formal dance training:

Here's a nice treat for a Friday afternoon. James Cagney and Bob Hope. They just don't make 'em like this anymore.