For many years James Cagney divided his time between a country-esque retreat in Goldwater Canyon, high above Beverly Hills, and a Martha's Vineyard spread that is nothing if not wildly appealing. But, with a fervor that only a once poor city kid (Cagney grew up in the Yorkville section of New York City--East 80s/90s) could possess, he yearned for the wide-open spaces that could only be found on a true country farm estate. Accordingly, he bought a 700 acre spread of undeveloped land in Staffordville New York, up aways from the city but not nearly as remote as the Vineyard, and proceeded to build his dream retirement villa.
The result, as pictured in the above video, is a stone house so modest that it might be more suitable for use as a kennel. In his autobiography he even brags about the tininess of the place, stating that most people "are surprised by the little stone house my Bill (his nickname for his wife--whose real name apparently was Willard...hmmm) and I live in. They expect to find a big place with lots of servants. But my Bill and I are the only maids and the chief dishwashers too!"
Why, with seven-hundred acres to mess around with, did Cagney choose to build a house that's so small you practically fall out of the back door as soon as you enter the front door? Why was he so smug about how little he and his Bill really needed to have? Why did he retire after 'One, Two, Three" and insist he'd never act again, only to wind up coming back years later to be in that stupid made-for-TV boxing movie? Why did he stick his ass in the air when he danced? Why did he call his wife 'Bill'? Why? Why? Why?
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