How tall is James Cagney ?

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James Cagney's Height is 5ft 5in (165 cm)

American actor best remembered for starring in movies like Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Roaring Twenties, White Heat, Footlight Parade, The Strawberry Blonde, 13 Rue Madeleine, Mister Roberts, Public Enemy, Angels with Dirty Faces and One, Two, Three,. In a 1979 (Feb 13) article in Star News, it mentions a quote by Cagney from an ABC interview: "I was 5-foot-8, no face, just pale white eyebrows and eyelashes. Nothing to photograph". In a biography it also mentioned, "Five feet seven and a half inches in height"

How tall is James Cagney
1930's Publicity Photo, via Wikimedia Commons
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Comment on the Height of James Cagney

Sam said on 12/Jun/15
Rob, reupping my credits suggestions: Footlight Parade, The Strawberry Blonde, 13 Rue Madeleine, Mister Roberts & One, Two, Three.
Powerhouse said on 10/Jun/15
He appeared 5'4.5 - 5'5, always looked noticeably short, even for his time. His claims are ridiculous. Great actor though.
Sam said on 6/May/15
Both quotes were to interviewers after Cagney retired, he was a height exaggerator on his own.
Rjslade said on 3/May/15
I know the studio made claims and told actors to stick with those fake measurements. They claimed Cagney was 5'8 and Bogie 5'10 1/2. Cagney was likely 5'6 and Bogie, who hated the lifts and thought lying was stupid was never affairs to admit he was 5'8 1/2.
Sam said on 30/Dec/14
Agree, he deserves a full 10 films to be listed. Rob, could you add the following to his credits?:
Footlight Parade, The Strawberry Blonde, 13 Rue Madeleine, Mister Roberts & One, Two, Three.
Gonzalo said on 22/Dec/14
Sam said on 19/Nov/14
Rob, could you add his claim of "five feet seven and a half inches in height" to the top as well? This is from his biography.
Click Here
Mel John said on 6/Nov/14
Here is the dance from Seven Little Foys with Bob Hope, who is listed here at 5'10". I certainly can't see 5" between then - a couple of inches at best:
Phil said on 21/Oct/14
I could believe Cagney wears lifts, just look at how he compares with 5'8" listed Humphrey Bogart (who himself wears pretty hefty footwear too): Click Here Cagney was 5'5", but with the right footwear, he could have been 5'8".
Arch Stanton said on 7/Aug/14
Can look 5'4" range in Footlight Parade. For a little fella his confidence was huge!!
KateD said on 17/Jul/14
He was often shown to be equal in height to Gloria Stewart in "Here Comes the Navy" but in different scenes he was shorter than she. So I think the director changed his mind about what looked best. In one scene Cagney is nose to nose with Pat O'Brien and then Pat is shown at least 3-4 inches taller than Gloria! But Cagney was so good that details like this didnt matter and they don't matter now. And he was a regular guy temper tantrums of star attitude for him.
Surfdancer said on 5/Jul/14
Why's everyone so obsessed with his and other's actors' heights??? Give or take an inch or 5, does it even really matter??? James Cagney was an amazing talent, an amazing human being, so proud he was an American Legend, whatever the heck his height was!
Arch Stanton said on 11/May/14
The funny thing is that Cagney was only about 1.5-2 inches shorter than Edward Woods in The Public Enemy who I think claimed 5 ft 10!!! LMAO!! In reality Woods was 5'7" max!!
Arch Stanton said on 11/May/14
Rob can you add White Heat and The Public Enemy? Two classic gangster films. Watching the latter now.
Realist said on 1/May/14
Looks more 5'4 range. Those guys were bigger liars than the ones today.
Arch Stanton said on 30/Apr/14
He could look 5'6 at times. He looked that in White Heat, a terrific classic gangster crime film, one of his best films. 5'7.5" or 5'8" is a joke though and clearly impossible. If he was with MJ Fox he's have been old by then so could have been more 5'4". Cagney at 5 ft 8 is sort of like Mickey Rooney at 5 ft 5, or erm G at 5 ft 10 LOL.
Sam said on 17/Feb/14
A biography I read of Cagney did claim a shoed Cagney could measure 5'7.5" but I was some thing hosted by Michael J. Fox a while back in which Fox claimed he and Cagney were the same height, both being under 5'5".
Arch Stanton said on 17/Feb/14
Looking at the form again it says

Height: 5-3
Weight: 112 lbs
Age: 15

It's possible they made it up for the film. I don't think he looked that low but it's interesting that they did document his height as 5'3" as even at 15 that would be very short, and according to him he was 5 ft 8!
Arch Stanton said on 16/Feb/14
Doesn't look quite three inches between him and Bogart but they can't both be 5 ft 8 :-]
Arch Stanton said on 16/Feb/14
Rob have you seen Angels With Dirty Faces? In his juvenile delinquency report "Warrington Reform School" he's written down as 5-3 and 112 lbs, although it says age 13. Makes you wonder why they wrote down 5'3", I doubt he'd have been that tall at 13...
[Editor Rob: can't remember much of it]
Robby D said on 15/Feb/14
Since my last post I have just seen a rerun of the film, "Love Me or Leave Me" and at the beginning, James Cagney enters Doris Day's dressing room, He is wearing dress shoes (not sure is they were elevated) and a hat and she has just taken her shoes off. Even barefoot Day is taller than Cagney with his shoes and hat on and she is listed as 5'6" on this site and 5'7" on other sites. That confirms to me that he was not over 5'5" he may have even been under!
Robby D said on 15/Jan/14
In the movie, "13 Rue Madeleine" James Cagney played "Bob Sharkey" and espionage instructor who was sent on a mission. On his credentials his height was stated as 165cm and that was on the character he wss playing. If he wanted to get away with being 5'8" that was the time to do it. Rob has his height spot on at 5'5" in my opinion.
James Crowley Meridius said on 19/Nov/13
Rob he claimed 5ft 8in in a interveiw is it possible he lifts too boost his height by 3 inches.
[Editor Rob: he does seem a kind of guy who would have worn lifts in that era.]
Arch Stanton said on 9/Sep/13
He actually resembles a young David Jason facially and in stature doesn't he?
Arch Stanton said on 9/Sep/13
Nah, he's in stacked heels that's why I thought he seemed a bit taller. In jockey boots in YD Dandy he looks 5'5" max. Looks very convincing as a little jockey. 5 ft 8 LOL!!! Worse than G!!
Arch Stanton said on 9/Sep/13
He looks 5'6" ish in Yankee Doodle Dandy
HappyLass said on 3/Aug/13
I've never understood the obsession people seem to have with height in our society. Here's my Cagney story. My dad was a physician who practiced in L.A. From the early 30s till 1961. When Mr. Cagney & Spencer Tracy were starting out, they were both patients of my dad. I helped out in the office during school vacations. By then, both actors were successful, but both of them stuck with my dad & drove across L.A. When they could have switched doctors for convenience sake. Dad told me that in the beginning, when they were a couple of broke actors, they'd stop into his office & pay $5 a week till the bill was paid. When I was 13, Mr. Cagney invited me to the studio to see him film "Love Me or Leave Me" with Doris Day. He was so kind to me & made sure I got the royal treatment -- what a day! It never occurred to me to check his height.
Kelly said on 31/Jul/13
In his biography, Cagney By Cagney, he talks about his height in relation to other actors. He requested and, I'm sure, eventually contracted that male actors he was scripted to belt were to be taller than himself. He was keenly aware of his strong screen presence and physicality and therefore wanted to fight taller actors so as not to appear to be taking advantage. In my book, Cagney stood head and shoulders above the crowd no matter what his exact actual height. Not only a spellbinding performer but a superb human being. Long live his memory and God rest his spirit.
greg lehmann said on 21/Jul/13
Closer to my 5'7" height. (I remember that when James Cagney was What's My Line? mystery guest in 1960,after Bennett Cerf guessed James,Cagney told host John Daly he was 5'7",my height.)
Sam said on 15/Mar/13
Saw parts of 13 Rue Madeline last night and Sam Jaffe, who was not a large man, was clearly taller but some margin, in some shots it looked like he had a 3 inch height advantage over Cagney. I don't know if Cagney was ever a lift-wearer but he certainly didn't seem to be wearing them in this movie.
Sydney Simon said on 26/Feb/13
James Cagney was easily one of the greatest actors Hollywood ever saw. "Mr.Roberts"; "Yankee Doodle Dandy"; "White Heat"...the list goes on.He truly was by today's standards, a short man (I don't count Basketball players and no one should as they are an extreme minority). One thing about James Cagney was his clear potential for menace, he really was a wonderful person and dearly loved by all who knew him, but he was no shrinking violet. He was powerfully built for a small man, with a thick chest and strong solid arms and legs. His dancing in Yankee Doodle Dandy left no misinterpretations, he was a strong and dynamic Man.he harnesed his full potential as an actor and used his stiff and jerky style to wonderful effect. Unique and Dearly missed.
Adrian said on 23/Feb/13
First off, I'll thoroughly agree with Patrick. In all particulars. ( No I don't need a monicker. ) Funny that after a while I actually forget about somebody like Mr. Cagney and how good of an actor he was. I'll ascribe it to an information glut. I'll agree he was about five - five. I'll also agree he wasn't sensitive about his height which is a plus. You can gauge by the players around him in his films. Hollywood seems to have a predilection for tall actors because they photograph better. Os such is the prevailing wisdom. If you ever ran into Martin Balsam ( I did once ) I doubt he measured a full five feet. He wasn't a dwarf, it just wasn't unusual in New York City to see people who were very short. Mr. Cagney had what they called ' heart. ' He transcended whatever perceived 'lack' he may've had. Steve McQueen was in fact sensitive about his height. I think because it was the end of the studio system. He could only count on himself and very conscious of the fact he had to present a flawless image to the public. You can see clips of 'The Blob' online giving you and idea just how much taller the supporitng players may've been. Maybe Mr. Cagmey felt a little more confident being in the structure of the studio system knowing he had a job to go to every day which is how he saw it. A job. Regardless, he was unique. All the flaws he might've thought he had, we, as television kids growing up in the fifies and sixties were oblivious to when our attention perked up on these really old reruns. We didn't have color TV as yet. But there was something about this particular guy that made you sit up and take notice whether he played a hood, a song and dance man, or a cowboy. Patrick, you not only hit it on the head but you smashed the hammer in the process. Today's players would have a hard time trying to keep up with that kind of intangible persona Mr. Cagney possessed. ( No spell check on this thing. Sorry if I muffed it. )
Mammal X said on 3/Jan/13
Cagney was EIGHTY years old when he made the "I was (WAS, mind you) 5-foot-8) comment, so let's give him a break here. Possibly he once measured 5'8", in shoes, but his real height must have been closer to 5'6". He was a FANTASTIC actor, and his presence was that of a six-footer. I agree with some of the others posters here who said "come back fifty years from now, and see how many of today's stars are still remembered". Read up some time how the old-school actors had do do it; work their way up the ladder, learn to sing and dance, learn to ride horses and do stunts. Most actors did 3, 4, sometimes FIVE movies per year! The delicate daisy's of today's Hollywood would run screaming if forced to work like the oldtimers did!
Bubba said on 29/Jul/12
He was about 5'6" and Bogart was the same or slightly taller.
i0hn said on 14/Jun/12
I am a big cagney fan. He was actually 3ft 4 inches very short indeed but a great actor
linke said on 9/Feb/12
Rob,i would have guessed 5'6 but 3 inch exaggeration?????
Sam said on 8/Feb/12
Of course 5'8" is ridiculous. Rob, is there a possibility that he was closer to 5'6"? I read his biography a while back and I thought they claimed 5'7.5" in boots but I'd have to go find it again to verify.
RisingForce said on 8/Feb/12
Great find. Wow...5'8"? That may be one of the most exaggerated claims I've seen. Always looked really short, even for his generation. This listing seems accurate to me, so that'd be a 3 inch exaggeration.
jtm said on 7/Feb/12
he was definitely not 5'8.
Editor Rob said on 6/Feb/12
I found what Cagney said his height was - he claimed to be 5ft 8!
Patrick said on 1/Feb/12
Rob, I agree with you and see what you mean. I think that if past stars get now much less comment it is due to the fact they actually don’t know them. Not knowing Frankie – Sinatra – is just unbelievable! James Cagney was not known for his height as well as Bogart and even much taller actors. At the time, they were renowned for their incredible human and talented abilities to play. Johnny Depp playing tough guys as John Dillinger is just a joke but not funny for example. John Wayne is an exception because he conveys something different as he used to do when acting, while being “the” star. Cagney is kind of short John Wayne in a way as Spencer Tracy was who could embody gentle everyman as well as very tough guys (from Father of the bride to Bad day at Black Rock). Even wonderful actor as Tom Hanks could not do it. Jeff Bridges can but he is NO Cagney or Stewart or Wayne for all that and I love him.
As for what will remain tomorrow as real “stars”, no doubt the old ones will regain some splendor if only because the current ones won’t go the distance! Real strong and even tough guys now are rare; it is not enough to do “one’s own stunt” as allegedly do many actors like Cruise or Pitt to be “mature” men. At 50 those actors would have been considered as kids facing old stars when they were 30! It is needed to air a maximum of old good movies as TCM does to help people not to loose their treasure, i.e. their memory.
And BTW, Mindy, James Cagney didn’t need having “short actor” around him not to look too short. He was tall inside and was much more impressive than
Henri Fonda, Stephen McNally, 6’3 Dan Dailey, Raymond Massey, Ward Bond, Steve Cochran, Walter Huston, Dennis Morgan, George Brent etc. all were minimum 6’ and often taller!
[Editor Rob:
if this site is still around 40 years, there might be another 10,000 additions, but a lot of the current hollywood actors talked about today, will barely get a comment in the future.]
Mr. T said on 17/Jul/07
Yeah, he was small-shouldered and rarely ever close to his co-stars in height. Still a tough **** and a great actor.
patrick said on 13/Feb/07
Small but not "short" which is pelorative in my opinion; J. Cagney was "giant" and much tougher than so many biger guys above all, from today!
Like E.G Robinson or even UNDERATED Alan Ladd, J. Cagney was able to act anything and ALWAYS more than credible.
He didn't need to be "a standard" nor being handsome or tall or this or that to be what he was: one of the greatest actor (and man) ever!
Frank P said on 6/Apr/06
Seen everyone of his old films. Loved his movies. At the MOST I would estimate 5"5. I would even agree to 5"4. Face it he was pretty small. No way on the 5"7 guys.
Frank2 said on 3/Mar/06
If it was true that he was 5ft 8.5 then co-stars like Bogart and Raft were giants! My best guess is that Cagney was around five five, no more.
sam said on 15/Aug/05
I read in his biography that he was once listed as 5'6 1/2" and once measured as 5'8 1/2", and they were both exactly one inch off: that he was 5'7 1/2". Don't know if this is true.

Heights are barefeet estimates, derived from quotations, official websites, agency resumes, in person encounters with actors at conventions and pictures/films.

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