George Michael Cohan, known professionally as George M. Cohan, was an American entertainer, playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer, and producer.
Cohan started his career as a child performing with his parents and sister in vaudeville as "The Four Cohans." He quickly started writing songs and sketches and went on to write some 500 songs in his lifetime. He wrote, produced, and starred in many musicals on Broadway. Cohan was one of the founders of ASCAP. His many popular songs include "Over There", "Give My Regards to Broadway," and "The Yankee Doodle Boy." Beginning with Little Johnny Jones in 1904, Cohan wrote and starred in over three dozen Broadway shows, continuing to perform until 1940. He also appeared in films, including The Phantom President in 1932.
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 Academy Award-winning film Yankee Doodle Dandy and the 1968 musical George M!. A statue of Cohan is in Times Square in New York City.
Cohan was born in 1878 in Providence, Rhode Island, to Irish Catholic parents. A baptismal certificate indicated that he was born on July 3, but Cohan and his family always insisted that George had been "born on the Fourth of July!" George's parents were traveling vaudeville performers, and he joined them on stage while still an infant, first as a prop, learning to dance and sing soon after he could walk and talk.