In honor of the Fourth of July, here are some fun facts concerning the classic musical ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ (1942)!
1) George M. Cohan wanted Fred Astaire to play him in the film, but Astaire’s ballroom style of dancing style was too different from Cohan’s stiffer legwork and Cagney got the part.
2) Rosemary DeCamp played Cohan’s mother, but in reality she was more than a decade younger than Cagney.
3) Cohan’s sister, Josie, was played by Cagney’s real-life sister, Jeanne, while Cagney’s brother, Bill was a producer on the film.
4) The film was scheduled for a July 4, 1942 release, but in deference to Cohan’s failing health, it premiered in New York, New York on May 29, 1942.
5) Cagney won his only Oscar for his work in this film, but the movie itself lost out to ‘Mrs. Miniver’ (1942) for Best Picture.
6) Cohan’s choreographer, Johnny Boyle, worked closely with Cagney on the dance routines.
7) Cohan was actually married twice, but in the movie he had only one wife, Mary.
8) Actress Joan Leslie was only 17 and still in high school when she played the part of Cohan’s wife.
9) Despite its patriotic flair, the film was already in production when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941.
10) Josie Cohan was married to MGM director and Academy founder Fred Niblo.