Cohan, George M.

George Michael Cohan (3 July 3, 1878 – 5 November 1942) was an entertainer, playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer and theatrical producer.

He was elected to The Lambs in 1911 and later made a Life Member. He faced controversy in 1919 during the Actors Strike, when he sided against Actors Equity.

Cohan began his career as a child, performing with his parents and sister in a vaudeville act known as “The Four Cohans”. Beginning with Little Johnny Jones in 1904, he wrote, composed, produced, and appeared in more than three dozen Broadway musicals. Cohan wrote more than 50 shows and published more than 300 songs during his lifetime, including the standards “Over There”, “Give My Regards to Broadway”, “The Yankee Doodle Boy” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag”. As a composer, he was one of the early members of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). He displayed remarkable theatrical longevity, appearing in films until the 1930s, and continuing to perform as a headline artist until 1940.

Known in the decade before World War I as “the man who owned Broadway”, he is considered the father of American musical comedy. His life and music were depicted in the Oscar-winning film Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) and the 1968 musical George M! A statue of Cohan in Times Square commemorates his contributions to American musical theatre.