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Death of George M. Cohan...



Item # 556216

November 6, 1942

THE NEW YORK TIMES, November 6, 1942

* Death of song writer George M. Cohan

This 42 page newspaper has two line, one column headline on page 20: "GEORGE M. COHAN, 64, DIES AT HOME HERE," with subheads that include: "Original Yankee Doodle Boy Composed 'Over There' and 'It's a Grand Old Flag'" and more.
Also a nice pictorial of Cohan on the same page (see photos). Nice to have in this title.
Other news of the day including much on World War II. Rag edition in great condition.

source: wikipedia: Cohan was the pioneer of the musical theater libretto. He is mostly remembered for his songs, later interpolated into musicals such as Anything Goes, Guys and Dolls, and Hello Dolly! However, he invented the "book musical," becoming the first showman to bridge the gaps between drama and music, operetta and extravaganza.[citation needed]
Cohan and his sister Josie in the 1890s

More than three decades before Agnes de Mille choreographed Oklahoma!, Cohan used dance not merely as razzle-dazzle but to advance the plot. The engaging books of his musicals supported the scores that yielded so many popular songs. As a storyteller, Cohan's main characters were "average Joes and Janes".

Characters like Johnny Jones and Nellie Kelly appealed to a whole new audience. He wrote for every American, instead of highbrow Americans. (see book by Thomas S. Hischak, Boy Loses Girl (ISBN 0-8108-4440-0).

In 1914, he became one of the founding members of ASCAP. In 1919, he unsuccessfully opposed a historic strike by Actors' Equity Association, for which many in the theatrical professions never forgave him. Cohan opposed the strike because in addition to being an actor in his productions, he was also the producer of the musical that set the terms and conditions of the actors's employment. During the strike, he donated $100,000 to finance the Actors' Retirement Fund in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. After Actors' Equity was recognized, Cohan refused to join the union as an actor which hampered his ability to be in his own productions. After 1919, Cohan had to seek a waiver from Equity to act in any theatrical productions.

Cohan wrote numerous other Broadway musicals and straight plays, in addition to contributing material to shows written by others — more than 50 in all. Cohan shows included Forty-five Minutes from Broadway (1905), George Washington, Jr. (1906), The Talk of New York and The Honeymooners (1907), Fifty Miles from Boston and The Yankee Prince (1908), Broadway Jones (1912), Seven Keys to Baldpate (1913), The Cohan Revue of 1918 (co-written with Irving Berlin), The Tavern (1920), The Rise of Rosie O'Reilly (1923, featuring a 13-year-old Ruby Keeler among the chorus girls), The Song and Dance Man (1923), American Born (1925), The Baby Cyclone (1927, one of Spencer Tracy's early breaks), Elmer the Great (1928, co-written with Ring Lardner), and Pigeons and People (1933). At this point in his life it is often said that he walked in and out of retirement.

Cohan is arguably the most honored American entertainer. On June 29, 1936, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt presented him with The Congressional Gold Medal of Honor for his contributions to World War I morale, in particular the songs "You're a Grand Old Flag" and "Over There". The Congressional Gold Medal of Honor is not the military Medal of Honor presented by the President in the name of Congress.

In 1959, at the behest of lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, a $100,000 bronze statue of Cohan was dedicated in Times Square, at Broadway and 46th Street in Manhattan. The 8-foot bronze remains the only statue of an actor on Broadway. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, and into the American Folklore Hall of Fame in 2003.

His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located at 6734 Hollywood Boulevard.

The United States Postal Service issued a 15-cent commemorative stamp honoring Cohan on the anniversary of his centenary, July 3, 1978. The stamp, one of the long-running Performing Arts Series of the USPS, depicts both the older Cohan and his younger self as a dancer, along with the tag line "Yankee Doodle Dandy". It was designed by Jim Sharpe.

Cohan was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on October 15, 2006.

Many of these honors were accepted posthumously by Cohan's large family.

In 1999, Regimental Band of the United States Merchant Marine Academy was instrumental in helping the local community and Park District of Great Neck, NY save his former residence, which was slated for demolition. Helen Ronkin Lafaso and Ms. Mary Ronkin Ross, the grandchildren of Mr. Cohan, formally thanked the band for their support and gave the band the honor to be called, "George M. Cohan's Own" for "now and in the future." Thus, the Regimental Band became the first Federal Academy Band with an officially bestowed title. [1] The USMMA Regimental Band now owns the rights to all of George M Cohan's music.

Category: The 20th Century

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