Monday, July 24, 2017

1973 .... James Cagney, the Consummate Showman !


In 1999 the American Film Institution ranked James Cagney as 8th among the greatest male stars of all time although his films were mostly prevalent in the 30’s through the 60’s. He is often misquoted but his raspy voice with high pitched inflections will always be his outstanding feature. The mimics of today still delight in hitching up their shoulders and squawking out the words; “You dirty rat…” (a line that Cagney says he never uttered, by the way !)

In 1961 James Cagney bought an 800 acre farm in Dutchess County, NY. It was in the same township where my husband, 3 children and I settled three years later. Although the farm was just over the hill from our house we never saw the famous man. He loved the country and would stay there whenever possible and finally retired there in the mid 70's. He was good to the county and everyone that met him was duly impressed. I, however, had never even spied him from afar.

One Spring day in 1974 I was grocery shopping at our little local store. My arms were full and, as I approached the door, I saw a small, hefty man holding it open for me. He was slightly hunched and had a plaid hat with brim covering his balding head. It was tilted to give it a rakish look, and as I turned to say, “Thank you”, he tipped it toward me and said, “The pleasure is mine, little missy.”

There was no mistaking that voice ! James Cagney was my doorman and his twinkling eyes told me that he knew it was a thrill for me. Even in his 70’s he was a captivating presence and you could tell that, as much as he loved his anonymity, he was still the consummate showman.


Blogger Marie Smith said...

He wasn't one of the dirty rats Ginnie!

5:39 PM  
Blogger possum said...

How cool was that?
Made your day!
Thanks for sharing!!!!!

3:57 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Another delightful post that also has me trying to be a mimic ... just in my head for now. :-)

4:43 AM  
Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

Wow, that had to have made your day. Just love it when the famous are nice people.

11:26 AM  
Blogger troutbirder said...

What a neat memory. And surely a showman indeed...:)

4:13 PM  
Blogger joared said...

Enjoyed your sharing this personal encounter. Must have surprised you in the moment.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Big John said...

He also never said .. "Top of the world Ma!"

BTW ... I'm still having problems leaving comments.. and that 'selfie' you requested is on my blog.

6:52 AM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Mr. Cagney sounds like a true gentleman unlike some of the movie characters he portrayed. And, he gave you a very special memory too.

9:43 AM  

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