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George Michael Cohan is Born

Today in Masonic History George Michael Cohan is born in 1878.

George Michael Cohan was an American entertainer, playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer and producer.

Cohan was born in Providence, Rhode Island. Although there is a birth certificate listing Cohan's birth as July 3rd, 1878. His family claimed he was "born on the 4th of July." This in part was probably due to the numerous patriotic songs he wrote. Cohan first appeared on stage as an infant, a prop for his parents vaudeville act. As he grew, he began performing acts of his own. Eventually he joined his family as part of the Four Cohans made up of his mother, father, sister and himself. He wrote over 150 songs and skits for the family act. They traveled together until 1901. During this time Cohan developed his famous curtain speech "My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you."

In 1904, Cohan began a 16 year stretch writing, directing and producing on Broadway. His first was The Governor's Son which was written for the Four Cohans. During his time on Broadway, Cohan wrote close to 300 songs. Some of the more famous of them, "Harrigan", "Give My Regards to Broadway", "You're a Grand Old Flag" and "The Yankee Doodle Boy" also known as "(I'm a)Yankee Doodle Dandy." Like Cohan himself the singer of the song claims to be "born on the 4th of July."

During World War I, Cohan composed one of his more famous songs, "Over There." It was meant to galvanize the young men who were heading to the battlefields of Europe. The song reflected the feeling at the time, the war needed to be short lived. It was also be very popular during World War II.

Cohan spent his later years as an actor, appearing in films and on Broadway. In 1942, the musical bio-pic about Cohan, Yankee Doodle Dandy, was released. Cohan was ill at the time and a private screening was arranged for him. After watching James Cagney portray him on the screen, Cohan said "My God, what an act to follow!"

Cohan passed away on November 5th, 1942 from abdominal cancer at the age of 64.

Cohan was a member of Pacific Lodge No. 233 in New York City, New York.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.