George M. Cohan on Film!
Today (among other things to be celebrated) is George M. Cohan’s birthday (for his full bio go here). Sadly he hated the recording arts, so there’s very little film of him despite the fact that he lived well into the 1940s. But in 1932, he did make The Phantom President, directed by Norman Taurog. This love scene is kind of icky — he’s way too old and creepy for Claudette Colbert here. But you get a sense of his great magnetism and focus as a performer. I certainly wish he had done many more movies!
To find out about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. Also please keep a look out for Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies From Nickelodeon to Youtube, coming out in September 2012