American icon George M. Cohan was born on July 3, 1873. Cohan was a playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer, and producer during his 50+ year career in entertainment.

Cohan came from a musical family – his parents were traveling vaudeville performers and Cohan joined them in a family act called “The Four Cohans.” He later appeared on Broadway where he penned music for a show called “Little Johnny Jones.”

It was that production that included the classic “Give My Regards to Broadway,” along with “The Yankee Doodle Boy.” Cohan went on to write over 300 “Tin Pan Alley” songs including “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and the popular World War I tune “Over There.”

Cohan went on to produce musicals and star in movies. His films featured iconic actors like Judy Garland, James Cagney, Mickey Rooney, and Jack Benny. A biopic of Cohan’s life starring Cagney, won an Academy Award.

Son of Providence: George M. Cohan Statue in Providence, Rhode Island

Cohan died of cancer in New York City in 1942. His pallbearers included Irving Berlin, Eugene O’Neil, and baseball legend Connie Mack. A bronze bust of Cohan, sculpted by Robert Shure, was unveiled in 2009 in the Fox Point neighborhood in Providence.

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Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music and more for What'sUpNewp, Providence Monthly, SO RI, and The Bay. He DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse" Tuesday nights, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.