James Cagney

A diminutive dynamo born in New York City July 17, 1899, James Cagney spent a decade in vaudeville and on Broadway before debuting on film in Sinner's Holiday (1930). His star-making turn came portraying a bootlegger in 1931's The Public Enemy; the role established his tough-guy screen persona, and he went on to headline a series of gangster movies.

By 1935, Cagney had moved in a new direction with crime dramas such as "G" Men, but he was back playing hoods three years later, earning an Oscar nod for Angels with Dirty Faces. Cagney's protean talent extended to comedy and musicals, as he proved by winning an Academy Award for his stylish performance in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942).

In the 1950s, he made notable appearances in Love Me or Leave Me (1955), Mister Roberts (also '55) and Man of a Thousand Faces (1957). The ebullient star retired in 1961 and died of a heart attack March 30, 1986.