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Cohan was born in 1878 in Providence, Rhode Island.
George’s parents were vaudeville performers, and as a infant he would dance and sing with them onstage soon after he could walk and talk.
At age 8, Cohan started playing violin and as a dancer.
He was a member of his family act, “The Four Cohans” in which he wrote over 150 skits and shows for, including his father Jeremiah, mother Helen, and his sister Josephine. In 1893 he made his Broadway debut with his sister Josephine in a sketch entitled “The Lively Bootblack.”