About a month ago, I was watching an early Cagney entry called Taxi! (1932), and in one early scene, witnessed the diminutive actor of Irish/Norwegian stock speaking Yiddish... not one or two words, mind you, but paragraphs.
And I thought to myself -- yet another reason to love Jimmy Cagney.
As if we needed any more.
In fact, Cagney learned that language fluently growing up dirt-poor on New York's Lower East Side in the early days of the twentieth century. But he had much more than language skills in his favor.
Though compact, he was scrappy and a natural fighter, often protecting his brother from neighborhood bullies. He eventually learned how to box, and became skillful enough to consider doing it for a living.
He also knew how to hustle and sell. He was in constant motion. From early days, he worked several jobs to support his family. Even once he'd made it in Hollywood, he sent his mother the majority of his earnings till the day she died.
Of course Cagney never mentioned that.