Chris Yogerst

Position title: Honorary Fellow (2023-2024)

Pronouns: He/him

Associate Professor, Arts & Humanities, UW-Milwaukee

This is an image of Chris Yogerst. He is looking directly at the camera and smiling. He is wearing glasses, a blue shirt, and a jacket.

The Cantankerous Cagneys

The Cantankerous Cagneys will be a history/biography of the Cagney family in Hollywood. We all know James Cagney for his tough gangster roles and graceful dance steps. However, the entire story has yet to be told. Jim’s brother and sister were also essential parts of his time in Hollywood. Bill Cagney was a producer and informal manager of his brother’s career. Sister Jeanne was a dancer, actress, and TV star in the early days of the new medium. Jim’s story is incomplete without learning more about the rest of his family. Jeanne’s daughters have been granting me interviews and will give me access to their family archive. The goal of this study is to utilize newly accessible archival material to create a more complete story of one of the most iconic figures of the 20th Century, while including his brother and sister into the narrative. Most importantly, including Jeanne will recenter another long lost female figure from entertainment industry history. In addition, the books available on James Cagney were all written by authors approved by his caretaker (a less than trustworthy source, a subject that will also be detailed in my book). The Cantankerous Cagneys will begin in New York City, chronicle the move to and time navigating Hollywood stardom, and conclude with a difficult conclusion, excluded form previous books, about an estranged family. In sum, by utilizing 21st century access to a range of digital resources, coupled with physical archival research and family interviews, This study aims to be the most definitive portraits of a family that was essential to the boom of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Chris Yogerst is associate professor of communication in the department of arts and humanities at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. His most recent book, The Warner Brothers, was completed with the help of a previous IRH fellowship. Chris is also the author of Hollywood Hates Hitler! Jew-Baiting, Anti-Nazism, and the Senate Investigation into Warmongering in Motion Pictures, was published in 2020 from the University Press of Mississippi. Chris regularly writes for the popular press where his work can be found in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Washington Post, and Hollywood Reporter. He has published in numerous academic journals such as the Journal of American Culture, Journal of Popular Film & Television, and the Historic Journal of Film, Radio and Television. In addition, Chris is a founding board member of the Historic West Bend Theater, Inc., a non-profit that restored and manages a multipurpose 1929 historic entertainment venue called The Bend.