Joan Leslie: Cagney’s Singing Girlfriend

Joan Leslie, James Cagney’s romantic costar in “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” died three days ago in Los Angeles. She was 90. Leslie was a plucky, likable second-lead type who could cry on cue. Her career peaked for two years due to (a) a small role in Raoul Walsh‘s “High Sierra,” and (b) two lead roles that followed — Gracie Williams, the fiance of Gary Cooper‘s Alvin York, in Howard Hawks‘ “Sergeant York” (’41) and Mary Cohan, the singing girlfriend and then wife of Cagney’s George M. Cohan in that nominee for the 1942 Best Picture Oscar, which was directed by Michael Curtiz.

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