Broadway Blip: George M. Cohan
Have you ever been at the TKTS Booth in New York City’s Duffy Square and looked up to see a statue looming over the area? Have you inspected said statue more closely and saw the name “George M. Cohan” etched across the front. I’m sure many of you know who Cohan was, but I am guessing there are a lot of people out there who do not. George M. Cohan was a multi-talented mover and shaker of the early musical theatre, working as a performer, director, composer, lyricist, book writer, and producer for a handful of extremely popular shows. He is perhaps best remembered as the composer-lyricist of that greatest of theatre anthems, “Give My Regards to Broadway.” Among the other standards that he contributed to the American Songbook are “Mary’s a Grand Old Name”, “Over There”, “Yankee Doodle Boy,” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” Understanding the allure of patriotism, Cohan often incorporated it into his musicals. Though he worked on many Broadway musicals, some of his hits were Little Johnny Jones (1904), Forty-Five Minutes From Broadway (1906), and The Yankee Prince (1908). A musical Broadway of his life was made called George M!. in 1968 starring Joel Grey and Bernadette Peters. The 1942 film Yankee Doodle Dandy is a somewhat fictional tale of his life, starring James Cagney.
Fun Fact: Cohan played President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1937 Rodgers and Hart musical I’d Rather Be Right.