Little Johnny Jones (1904)
by George M. Cohan
Act One, Scene One – excerpt

Editor's Note: Here's what a state-of-the-art musical libretto looked like at the start of the 20th Century. This scene introduces the song "Yankee Doodle Dandy," and it's nothing like the race track scene Warner Brothers concocted for the 1942 film of the same name. Cohan's original stage dialogue is in a contemporary 1904 conversational style. I have reworded some of Cohan's stage directions slightly for clarity's sake, but the dialogue is exactly as he wrote it. As was Cohan's habit, the lyrics were not included in the manuscript. I transcribed them from the vocal score.

The set-up: We join the action about two-thirds of the way through Act One. American jockey Johnny Jones has come to England to win the English Darby. The morning of the race, he is outside his London hotel talking with American politician and horse owner Timothy D. Magee. Jones has just explained that he recently won a race after a girl in the crowd called out encouragement to him.


MCGEE
And when the race was over, you met the girl that looked over the rail, and she's the girl you're going to marry, and everything ends happily and so on, etc.

JONES

Now you have it

MCGEE
But how about her parents?

JONES
She has none – lives with her aunt. She's a very wealthy girl, Mack. Her father was known as the Copper King. His name was Gerald Gates.

MCGEE
And the aunt's name is? –

JONES
Kenworth. She's a fanatic on the subject of reform.

MCGEE
President of the female reformers.

JONES
Yes.

MCGEE
Why, it's like a story in a book.

JONES
How is that?

MCGEE
She's here.

JONES
Who?

MCGEE
Mrs. Kenworth.

JONES
Here in London?

MCGEE
Yes, but that's not all. She's engaged to be married.

JONES
To whom?

MCGEE
Anthony Anstey

JONES
The devil.

MCGEE
That's what I think he is.

JONES
Must be some mistake.
(Gets up – crosses to Center)

MCGEE
(Follows to Center)
Sure, wasn't I talking with her. Didn't she tell me the whole business?

JONES
What business?

MCGEE
About the engagement with Anstey, and how he's going to introduce her to an English nobleman that they're going to cart back to America to marry the girl.

JONES
An English nobleman?

MCGEE
Yes, the Earl of something, I forgot the name. Sure, I met Anstey. He introduced me to her and she tells me the whole story.

JONES
There's something behind this, Mack.

MCGEE
Evidently.

JONES
Is Anstey here?

MCGEE
Certainly.

JONES
I'll be back in a minute.
(Turns to go off Left and McGee pulls him back)

MCGEE
Here now, Jonsey, keep cool. Don't rush head long into trouble, think it over. Keep your head, there's lots of time.

JONES
(Shakes his hand)
You're right, Mack, but I've had my eye on that fellow for a long time.
(Both go to Right. Enter journalist Florabella Fly from Hotel down Center followed by American girls.)

FLY
Who said Johnny Jones was here?

JONES
(Turns to her.)
What, Florabelle Fly?
(Goes to her and shakes hands.)

FLY
Jonsey.
(Turns him around.)
Turn around and let me see you.

JONES
How do I look?

FLY
Just as cute a kid as ever.

JONES
What are you doing in London?

FLY
Came to see you win the Derby.

JONES
(Turns to McGee.)
Did you hear that, Mack?

MCGEE
He'll do that all right.

FLY
(Girls pulling at Fly's dress, seeking introduction. Fly turns to girls.)
Ladies, allow me. Mr. Johnny Jones, the American jockey.
(She crosses over to McGee and Jonsey crosses to girls. They swarm around him like a lot of bees and in a second he is enclosed with them. Fly, laughingly to McGee)
Pretty soft for Jonsey, eh Mack?

MCGEE
Oh, when I was a boy I had a lot of women after me once.

FLY
And how was that?

MCGEE
I stole a pocketbook.
(They exit arm in arm, Right, laughing.)

JONES
(Breaks away from girls.)
Well, by Jove, this is a treat. You know, I didn't think there were so many Americans in the whole city of London. I suppose you're all going to the Darby.

1ST GIRL
You bet we are.

JONES
Want a little tip?

ALL
(Interested)
You bet we do.

JONES
Pawn your jewelry, go in hock, and play Yankee Doodle straight to win.
(American girl exits on run, Right.)

MUSIC CUE. SONG. "YANKEE DOODLE BOY"

JONES

I'M THE KID THAT'S ALL THE CANDY,
I'M A YANKEE DOODLE DANDY,
I'M GLAD I AM,
SO'S UNCLE SAM.
I'M A REAL LIVE YANKEE DOODLE
MADE MY NAME AND FAME AND BOODLE
JUST LIKE MR. DOODLE DID,
BY RIDING ON A PONY.
I LOVE TO LISTEN TO THE DIXIE STRAIN
I LONG TO SEE THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND ME;
THAT AIN'T A JOSH,
SHE'S A YANKEE, BY GOSH,
OH, SAY CAN YOU SEE
ANYTHING ABOUT A YANKEE THAT'S PHONY?

I'M A YANKEE DOODLE DANDY,
YANKEE DOODLE DO OR DIE;
A REAL LIVE NEPHEW OF MY UNCLE SAM'S,
BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY.
I'VE GOT A YANKEE DOODLE SWEETHEART,
SHE'S MY YANKEE DOODLE JOY.
YANKEE DOODLE CAME TO LONDON,
JUST TO RIDE THE PONIES,
I AM A YANKEE DOODLE BOY.

FATHER'S NAME WAS HEZIKIAH,
MOTHER'S NAME WAS ANN MARIAH,
YANKS THROUGH AND THROUGH,
RED, WHITE AND BLUE.
FATHER WAS SO YANKEE-HEARTED,
WHEN THE SPANISH WAR WAS STARTED
HE SLIPPED ON HIS UNIFORM
AND HOPPED UP ON A PONY.
MY MOTHER'S MOTHER WAS A YANKEE TRUE,
MY FATHER'S FATHER WAS A YANKEE TOO,
AND THAT'S GOING SOME,
FOR THE YANKEES, BY GUM,
OH, SAY CAN YOU SEE
ANYTHING ABOUT MY PEDIGREE THAT'S PHONY?

I'M A YANKEE DOODLE DANDY,
YANKEE DOODLE DO OR DIE;
A REAL LIVE NEPHEW OF MY UNCLE SAM'S,
BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY.
I'VE GOT A YANKEE DOODLE SWEETHEART,
SHE'S MY YANKEE DOODLE JOY.
YANKEE DOODLE CAME TO LONDON,
JUST TO RIDE THE PONIES,
I AM A YANKEE DOODLE BOY.

(After number all exit – both sides. Jones goes into hotel.)

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