Josie Cohan Cause of Death: The Tragic End of a Vaudeville Star

Josie Cohan was a famous American actress and dancer who was part of the legendary family act The Four Cohans. She was the sister of George M. Cohan, the renowned entertainer and producer who is considered the father of American musical comedy. Josie Cohan had a successful career on stage, starring in many of her brother’s productions and touring the world with her husband, Fred Niblo, a prominent performer and film director. But her life was cut short by a heart disease that claimed her life in 1916, when she was only 40 years old.

Early Life and Career

Josie Cohan was born in 1876 in Providence, Rhode Island, to Jerry and Nellie Cohan, both Irish immigrants who were performers in vaudeville. She had a younger brother, George, who was born in 1878. The family formed a vaudeville act called The Four Cohans, which debuted in 1882. Josie was the female lead of the group, singing and dancing with her brother and parents. The act was very popular and toured across the country, performing in various theaters and circuits. Josie and George also wrote some of the songs and sketches for the act, showing their talent and creativity.

In 1901, Josie married Fred Niblo, a fellow vaudeville performer who later became a famous film director. They continued to work with The Four Cohans until 1900, when George left the act to pursue a career on Broadway. Josie and Fred then formed their own act, called A Friend of the Family, which was a comedy sketch that showcased their chemistry and humor. They also appeared in several plays and musicals, such as The Governor’s Son, Running for Office, The Yankee Prince, and The Fortune Hunter. Josie was praised for her charm, grace, and versatility as an actress and dancer.

Death and Legacy

In 1913, Josie and Fred embarked on a tour of Asia, performing in countries such as Japan, China, India, and Australia. They returned to the United States in 1914, but Josie’s health began to deteriorate. She suffered from a heart disease that caused her to have fainting spells and chest pains. She retired from the stage and spent her last years in New York, where she died on July 12, 1916. She was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York, where her brother George and her parents were later interred.

Josie Cohan was a talented and beloved star of the vaudeville era, who left a lasting impression on the audiences and critics. She was also a devoted wife and mother, who had a son, Fred Niblo Jr., who became a writer and an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter. Josie Cohan’s life and career were portrayed by Jeanne Cagney in the 1942 biographical film Yankee Doodle Dandy, which starred James Cagney as George M. Cohan. Josie Cohan’s cause of death was a tragic end to a brilliant and joyful life.

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