George M. Cohan, famed Broadway song and dance man whose songs helped define the World War I generation, was born in Providence RI on July 3, 1878.
A statue honoring Cohan at the corner of Wickendon and Governor Streets in Providence was created by noted sculptor Robert Shure, who also created the Irish Famine Memorial in Boston and Providence.
Cohan (1878-1942) was the son of Jeremiah Cohan from Boston and Nellie Costigan from Providence. They met met on the vaudeville circuit and married in 1874. George and his sister Josephine became part of a successful family troupe, named the Four Cohans, which traveled around the country on the minstrel circuit, performing a cabaret of songs, dances, jokes and comedy routines popular at the time.
In 1893 George settled in New York City and soon became the toast of Broadway, writing popular tunes like Yankee Doodle Dandy, You're a Grand Old Flag, and Over There, a trio of songs that resonated with Americans and Europeans during World War I.
For more about the contributions of Irish contributions to American popular culture, see Irish Boston: A Lively Look at Boston's Colorful Irish Past.
For information on year round Irish cultural events in Massachusetts and the New England states, visit IrishMassachusetts.com
For more on Boston's Irish-American heritage, visit IrishHeritageTrail.com.