James Cagney's Key to the City
New York City, c. 1978-86
James Cagney's Key to the City detail
detail James Cagney's Key to the City
James Cagney's Key to the City
6-inch gold-finished key, in velvet case
American: c. 1978-86
Provenance: Estate of James Cagney

Key to New York City awarded to actor James Cagney (1899-1986) by the City of New York, during the administration of Mayor Edward I. Koch (b. 1924). In original box with plaque reading, "Facsimile of Key made in 1812 for the Door of City Hall, New York." The key is inset with the seal of New York City and bears the mayor's name in raised letters.

James Cagney was born and raised in tough New York City neighborhoods and started his acting career in the city, first in vaudeville and later on Broadway. In 1930 he signed to Warner Brothers as a movie actor, becoming known for roles as a tough-talking gangster, although occasionally he returned to his roots as a "song and dance man," most notably in "Yankee Doodle Dandy," for which he won an Oscar in 1942. After retiring in the Sixties, he received many honors including the Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1974. Koch was the mayor of New York from 1978 to 1989.

Provenance: Estate of James Cagney, Sold William Doyle Galleries, New York City, Lot 548.