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Obituaries : Frances Cagney; Widow of Actor James Cagney

October 17, 1994

Frances Cagney, actor James Cagney's beloved "Billie," his wife for 64 years, died Oct. 10 in the rural Upstate New York farmhouse where she and her husband found respite from his fame. She was 95.

The Cagneys had lived in Stanfordville, 54 miles south of Albany, working as gentlemen farmers, since 1955. She remained there after his death in 1986.

James Cagney, who appeared generally as an anti-hero in 64 films beginning in 1930, may be best known for his Oscar-winning role as song-and-dance man George M. Cohan in the 1942 film "Yankee Doodle Dandy."

He first met Frances Willard (Billie) Vernon (her parents had wanted a boy) when she was dancing in the chorus and he was a specialty performer in the 1920 New York musical "Pitter Patter." They married in 1922. A daughter, Kathleen, survives.

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