Saturday, June 3, 2017

Definitely MORE than 4 Cohans!

 "The King Of Broadway",
George M. Cohan...(1878-1942).
Composer, lyricist, performer, producer, director...
George started his life on the stage with his family,
The Four Cohans.
He became
"the greatest single figure the American theatre ever produced",
writing/producing (or contributing to)
over 50 musicals.
Below, George and unnamed chorine
attempting to learn that "Cohan style."

 James Cagney did his best to 
imitate that style in Yankee Doodle Dandy,
released in 1942, just after Cohan's death.
Below, with Joan Leslie who played his wife, Mary.
George evidently wanted Fred Astaire to portray him in the movie,
but Astaire turned him down,
saying that his dance style was at odds with Cohan's.
Jimmy was just right. :)

 The Four Cohans were played in the movie by
Jeanne Cagney (Jimmy's real life sister), Walter Huston,
and Rosemary DeCamp.
"My mother thanks you, my father thanks you..."
The Times called it "corking good entertainment",
if a bit dubious biography-wise.

Come 1968, it was time for George M!,
starring Joel Grey, who won a Tony for his performance.
But the production was trashed by the critics:
"The musical is a scrappy, ill-prepared mediocrely written account 
of George M. Cohan...", wrote Clive Barnes.
The choreography (by Joe Layton)
and Joel's portrayal were both praised.

 The Four Cohans, this time around:
Joel, Bernadette Peters, Jerry Dodge, and Betty Ann Grove.

We'll hear Jacqueline Alloway
(next to Joel), who played Fay Templeton,
sing "Mary".

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