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Oscar flashback: Portraying a real-life musician could be key to winning

Oscar flashback: Portraying a real-life musician could be key to winning

Among this year’s leading Oscar contenders for Best Actor is Emmy winner Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”) for his star turn as the late Freddie Mercury, the legendary lead vocalist of the rock band Queen, in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Should Malek reap an Oscar bid, he will mark the 12th leading man to date recognized for his portrayal of a real-life musician.

First to achieve this feat was James Cagney, nominated for his lively depiction of Broadway composer and performer George M. Cohan in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942). On Oscar night, Cagney was triumphant, scoring the lone Oscar of his storied career.

Later in the decade, a pair of actors earned recognition for portraying real-life musicians, the first being Cornel Wilde, up for his performance as Polish pianist Frederic Chopin in “A Song to Remember” (1945). The following year, Larry Parks was a nominee for portraying singer and actor Al Jolson in “The Jolson Story

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