Nov 05

Give My Regards to Broadway – A Tribute to George M. Cohan

I’ve always loved this song. “Give My regards to Broadway” was written by George M. Cohan, who has been called “the greatest single figure the American theatre ever produced”.

“Give My Regards to Broadway” was from his first Broadway play, Little Johnny Jones in 1904, after which he wrote, composed, produced, and appeared in more than three dozen Broadway musicals. Cohan published more than 300 songs during his lifetime, including the standards “Over There” (America’s most popular World War I song), “Give My Regards to Broadway”, “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag”.

This little tribute to Cohan is also an homage one of my personal favorite actors, James Cagney. Cagney played Cohan in the Academy Award-winning film Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), which includes James Cagney’s unforgettable musical tap dance rendition of “Give My Regards To Broadway”, for which he won an Oscar.

On May 1, 1940, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt presented him with the Congressional Gold Medal for his contributions to World War I morale, in particular the songs “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Over There.” Cohan was the first person in any artistic field selected for this honor, which previously had gone only to military and political leaders, philanthropists, scientists, inventors, and explorers. 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.

Here’s a link to James Cagney tap-dancing to “Give My Regards to Broadway” (tap-dancing begins at 1:57):