James Francis Cagney was born on July 17, 1889 in New York City and died in Stanfordville, NY on March 30, 1966 from a heart attack related to diabetes. He called himself the Professional Againster probably because of all the gangster and tough guy roles he played. His Oscar, however, was for his role as George M. Cohan in the musical, Yankee Doodle Dandy.
Cagney was a Norwegian and Irish descent that may have contributed to his wisecracking, staccato style of talking. He was in films for thirty years, retired to his farm in New York State in 1961 and then came out of retirement in 1981 to star in the adaption of E.L. Doctorow novel, Ragtime. He was reunited with Pat O’Brien a longtime favored co-star. Cagney’s final film was in Terrible Joe Moran, a made-for-TV movie cor starring Art Carney.
Cagney walked out on Warner Bros. several times over the course of his career, each time returning on much improved personal and artistic terms. In 1935 he sued Warner for breach of contract and won. This was one of the first times an actor prevailed over a studio on a contract issue. He worked for an independent film company for a year while the suit was being settled. This established his own production company, Cagney Productions, in 1942 before returning to Warner four years later. In reference to Cagney’s refusal to be pushed around.
Jack L. Warner called him the Professional Againster. Cagney also made numerous morale-boosting troop tours before and during World War II and served as president of the Screen Actors Guild for two years.
Credited to Wikipedia