LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The late James Cagney's best actor Oscar statuette for the 1942 musical "Yankee Doodle Dandy" is expected to fetch at least $800,000 when it goes up for auction on Thursday in Los Angeles, auction house Nate D. Sanders said.
Cagney was one of the most enduring performers of Hollywood's golden era having starred in films like 1949's "White Heat" and 1938's "Angels with Dirty Faces." He was nominated for three Academy Awards.
"If it's an Oscar like this, which is considered one of the best ones, James Cagney's Oscar ... will command a really high price," auction manager Laura Yntema said.
It is rare for an Oscar statuette to go up for sale as the show's organizer, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, began making winners since 1951 agree to offer the prize back to the Academy for $1 before selling it.
The Academy has in the past gone to court to stop some sales of Oscar statuettes.
In "Yankee Doodle Dandy," Cagney plays longtime Broadway star George M. Cohan, who was an acclaimed singer, actor and playwright of the early 20th century.
"People were just blown away by the performance, and it really stands as one of the best performances of all time," said Yntema.
Cagney, who died in 1986 at the age of 86, first gained a reputation as a tough guy in films like 1932's "Taxi!"
Late actress Joan Fontaine's best actress Oscar statuette for Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 thriller "Rebecca" will go up for auction at Christie's next month.
(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Cynthia Osterman)