“My God, What An Act To Follow!”
LOCKED IN A STRANGE, TESTY COLLABORATION lit by the fires of a burning world, George M. Cohan and James Cagney produced a masterpiece of popular history in which everything is true except the facts
July/August 1997 | Volume 48, Issue 4
The film made its premiere on May 29, 1942, at a special war-bond benefit. That summer George Cohan, now quite ill and confined to his Fifth Avenue apartment, persuaded his nurse to accompany him on a car trip down Broadway. The theater district had changed. From 1900 to the Great Depression—the years of Cohan’s reign —the Broadway theater had been the most dynamic commercial art form in the city’s most dynamic and glamorous era. On this tour Cohan must have seen the many theaters that had been closed or converted to movie houses. He and his nurse slipped into the Hollywood Theatre to watch a few minutes of Yankee Doodle Dandy , then went home. It was Cohan’s last trip to Broadway. He died a few months later.