George M. Cohan

Probably best known for his song "You're a Grand Old Flag," George M. Cohan was an American songwriter as well as singer and performer. His musicals revolutionized the theater world in America. He brought American vernacular speech, stories, and characters, as well as patriotic music into American musicals. He is credited with developing the fast-moving American comic musical using devices from vaudeville.

Photo: George M. Cohan, photo by Carl Van Vechten in 1933, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection

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Born in Providence, Rhode Island, George Michael Cohen developed his skills as a performer from an early age. As a boy, he traveled the country with his family in a vaudeville act called the Four Cohans. During his youth, he learned to play the violin, as well as write sketches and songs for the family. He expanded his sketches into longer shows, and his first full-length musical comedy was Little Johnny Jones in 1904.

Some of Cohan’s most famous songs are “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Yankee Doodle Boy,” and “Give My Regards to Broadway.” He was wildly successful for two decades writing and producing shows on Broadway. He also was an excellent actor himself, performing in plays by Eugene O’Neill and Rogers and Hart.

Cohan wrote more than 500 songs.

–Christie Finn

Source: Ronald Byrnside’s and Andrew Lamb’s article in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians

Related Information



You're A Grand Old Rag - Music Of Cohan

(George M. Cohan)


Marilyn Horne: Complete Decca Record

(George M. Cohan, Aaron Copland and Stephen Foster)


Moonlight Bay

(William Bolcom, Oley Speaks, George M. Cohan, Paul Dresser, Victor Herbert and Carrie Jacobs-Bond)


Together...and Alone

(George M. Cohan)


Caruso in Song

(George M. Cohan)



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