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James Cagney was an Academy Award-winning actor who was known for playing gangsters and short-fused tough guys.
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James Cagney was born in Manhattan's Lower East Side on July 17, 1899. While working at a department store, the soon-to-be-legendary big screen tough guy landed his first stage role in drag as a chorus girl. Cagney signed to Warner Brothers and made a name for himself by playing gangsters in films like Angels with Dirty Faces and White Heat. Cagney was nearly as tough off-screen as on and he became one of the first actors to sue a studio over a contract and win. He died in 1986.
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Truth is often more fascinating than fiction. Since the beginning of movies, actors have been portraying figures from history and bringing them to life on screen. Mastering the well-known mannerisms and characteristics of real world figures can be more challenging than portraying a fictional character. Enormous amounts of research and drastic physical transformations are not uncommon for actors wanting to properly inhabit their role on film. Whether playing a scheming Queen, a country singer, a temperamental boxer, or a pioneering writer, those performers who can accurately play the part often find Oscar gold as their reward. Here are the Academy Award-winning actors, and the larger-than-life people they portrayed.
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