How James Cagney’s Cause of Death Was Linked to His Health Struggles

James Cagney was one of the most iconic and versatile actors of Hollywood’s golden age, known for his roles as gangsters, musical stars, and comedians. He won an Oscar for his portrayal of George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy and was ranked eighth on the American Film Institute’s list of greatest male stars of all time. But behind his energetic and charismatic screen persona, he faced a series of health challenges that eventually led to his death in 1986.

Diabetes and Its Complications

Cagney was diagnosed with diabetes in the late 1950s, after he had retired from acting and moved to his farm in Stanfordville, New York. Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how the body processes glucose, a type of sugar that provides energy for cells. If left untreated or poorly managed, diabetes can cause serious complications such as nerve damage, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and vision loss.

According to Wikipedia, Cagney suffered from diabetic retinopathy, a condition that damages the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. This can result in blurred vision, floaters, dark spots, and blindness. Cagney also developed diabetic neuropathy, a condition that affects the nerves throughout the body, causing pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. This can affect the ability to walk, balance, and perform daily activities.

Strokes and Heart Attack

In addition to diabetes, Cagney also had a history of cardiovascular problems. He had a mild heart attack in 1970 and underwent bypass surgery in 1974. He also suffered from several strokes in his later years, which affected his speech and mobility.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted, depriving it of oxygen and nutrients. This can cause brain cells to die and result in permanent damage or death. The symptoms of a stroke may include sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, vision problems, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, and severe headache.

According to The Washington Post, Cagney had his first major stroke in 1979, which left him partially paralyzed on his left side. He recovered enough to make his final film appearance in Ragtime in 1981, but he had another stroke in 1982 that worsened his condition. He spent his last years confined to a wheelchair and bedridden at his farm.

On March 30, 1986, Cagney died of a heart attack at the age of 86. He was surrounded by his family and friends at his home. He was buried at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York.

A Legacy That Lives On

Despite his health struggles, Cagney never lost his spirit and humor. He was devoted to his wife Frances, whom he married in 1922 and remained faithful to until his death. He was also generous and compassionate to his fellow actors and crew members, often helping them financially or professionally.

Cagney’s legacy as an actor and a person lives on through his films and his fans. He influenced many generations of performers with his distinctive style and charisma. He was honored with numerous awards and tributes during his lifetime and after his death. He was also recognized as a cultural icon and a symbol of American identity.

James Cagney’s cause of death was a result of the cumulative effects of his battle with diabetes and the strokes he had endured. The toll these health issues took on his body became apparent in his later years, as he faced mobility challenges that belied his earlier energetic performances. But he never gave up on life or lost his love for his art. He was a legend who left an indelible mark on cinema history.

Doms Desk

Leave a Comment