Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Angel that Saved James Gagney

During Hollywood’s Golden Era James Gagney became one of its biggest stars.

Cagney in The Public Enemy
Gagney a multi-talented actor proved he was a major box-office draw with film hits such as the groundbreaking Prohibition film in 1931 The Public Enemy—which he followed up with more successful gangster roles.

In 1942 he proved his versatility when he danced and sang in Yankee Doodle Dandy, which he won an Oscar for.

James Gagney began his career in a revue as a female impersonator.

Cagney with chorus in Yankee Doodle Dandy
He was known to be a no-nonsense actor who did not believe in the supernatural, which makes the story that he told later in life more compelling.

With wife Billie
In 1964, he and his wife were driving late one night to San Francisco. Anxious to get to their dinner and bed Cagney was speeding—between 80 and 85 miles per hour.

Cagney states he heard a voice in his ear say, “Take it easy, kid!”

He then took his foot off the accelerator at first thinking it was his wife, Billie imitating him.

But as he turned toward her she questioned him. “Did you hear that too?”

Cagney now uncomfortable decided to ignore the command. He put his foot back down on the accelerator again.

But as he neared 85 mph he heard the voice once more. This time it shouted loudly, “Take it easy, kid!”

Now stunned Cagney told Billie, “That was my father’s voice.”

She replied that it sure sounded like him. At this point he looked straight ahead and spotted a broken-down trailer lying across the road just 100 yards away.

It had come loose from the car that towed it just moments before.

Cagney saw it in time to avoid it—he admitted if he had still been going 85 mph he would have hit it head on.

Cagney stated that his Irish bartender father who had been dead for years saved him and his wife from certain death.

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