75 Facts About Irving Berlin


Irving Berlin published his first song, "Marie from Sunny Italy", in 1907, receiving 33 cents for the publishing rights, and became known for international hits, such as 1911's "Alexander's Ragtime Band".


Irving Berlin was an owner of the Music Box Theatre on Broadway.


Irving Berlin wrote hundreds of songs, many becoming major hits, which made him famous before he turned thirty.


Irving Berlin's songs have reached the top of the charts 25 times and have been extensively re-recorded by numerous singers, including The Andrews Sisters, Perry Como, Eddie Fisher, Al Jolson, Fred Astaire, Ethel Merman, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr.


Irving Berlin was born Israel Beilin on May 11,1888, in the Russian Empire.


Irving Berlin was one of eight children of Moses and Lena Lipkin Beilin.


Irving Berlin died a few years later when Irving was thirteen years old.


Now, with only a few years of schooling, eight-year-old Irving Berlin began helping to support his family.


Irving Berlin became a newspaper boy, hawking The Evening Journal.


Irving Berlin's mother took a job as a midwife, and three of his sisters worked wrapping cigars, common for immigrant girls.


Young Irving Berlin sang some of the songs he heard while selling papers, and people would toss him some coins.


Irving Berlin confessed to his mother one evening that his newest ambition in life was to become a singing waiter in a saloon.


However, before Irving Berlin was fourteen his meager income was still adding less than his sisters' to the family's budget, which made him feel worthless.


Irving Berlin then decided to leave home and join the city's ragged army of other young immigrants.


Irving Berlin lived in the Bowery, taking up residence in one of the lodging houses that sheltered the thousands of other homeless boys in the Lower East Side.


Irving Berlin would sing a few of the popular ballads he heard on the street, hoping people would pitch him a few pennies.


Never having had lessons, after the bar closed for the night, young Irving Berlin would sit at a piano in the back and begin improvising tunes.


Irving Berlin published his first song, "Marie from Sunny Italy", written in collaboration with the Pelham's resident pianist Mike Nicholson, in 1907, receiving 33 cents for the publishing rights.


Irving Berlin continued writing and playing music at Pelham Cafe and developing an early style.


Irving Berlin liked the words to other people's songs but sometimes the rhythms were "kind of boggy," and he might change them.


In 1908, when he was 20, Irving Berlin took a new job at a saloon named Jimmy Kelly's in the Union Square neighborhood.


Not wishing to lose the sale, Irving Berlin quickly wrote a melody.


In 1910, Irving Berlin wrote a hit that solidly established him as one of Tin Pan Alley's leading composers.


Irving Berlin rose as a songwriter in Tin Pan Alley and on Broadway.


Irving Berlin became an instant celebrity, and the featured performer later that year at Oscar Hammerstein's vaudeville house, where he introduced dozens of other songs.


Irving Berlin then wrote lyrics to the score, played it again in another Broadway Review, and this time Variety news weekly called it "the musical sensation of the decade".


Irving Berlin was "flabbergasted" by the sudden international popularity of the song, and wondered why it became a sudden hit.


In 1914, Irving Berlin wrote a ragtime revue, Watch Your Step, which starred the couple and showcased their talents on stage.


Irving Berlin's songs signified modernism, and they signified the cultural struggle between Victorian gentility and the "purveyors of liberation, indulgence, and leisure," says Furia.


Irving Berlin was then 26, and the success of the show was riding on his name alone.


Whitcomb points out the irony that Russia, the country Irving Berlin's family was forced to leave, flung itself into "the ragtime beat with an abandon bordering on mania".


Some songs Irving Berlin created came out of his own sadness.


Irving Berlin died six months later of typhoid fever contracted during their honeymoon in Havana.


Irving Berlin began to realize that ragtime was not a good musical style for serious romantic expression, and over the next few years adapted his style by writing more love songs.


An important song that Irving Berlin wrote during his transition from writing ragtime to lyrical ballads was "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody", which became one of Irving Berlin's "first big guns", says historian Alec Wilder.


Irving Berlin returned to Tin Pan Alley after the war and in 1921 created a partnership with Sam Harris to build the Music Box Theater.


Irving Berlin maintained an interest in the theater throughout his life, and even in his last years was known to call the Shubert Organization, his partner, to check on the receipts.


In 1954, Berlin received a special Congressional Gold Medal from President Dwight D Eisenhower for contributing the song.


Irving Berlin loved his country, and wrote many songs reflecting his patriotism.


Irving Berlin's most notable and valuable contribution to the war effort was a stage show he wrote called "This Is The Army".


Irving Berlin wrote nearly three dozen songs for the show which contained a cast of 300 men.


Irving Berlin adds that he was in his mid-50s at the time, and later declared those years with the show were the "most thrilling time of his life".


The grueling tours Irving Berlin did performing "This Is The Army" left him exhausted, but when his longtime close friend Jerome Kern, who was the composer for Annie Get Your Gun, died suddenly, producers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II persuaded Irving Berlin to take over composing the score.


At first Irving Berlin refused to take on the job, claiming that he knew nothing about "hillbilly music", but the show ran for 1,147 performances and became his most successful score and biggest box office success.


Apparently the "creative spurt" in which Irving Berlin turned out several songs for the score in a single weekend was an anomaly.


Irving Berlin's next show, Miss Liberty, was disappointing, but Call Me Madam, starring Ethel Merman as Sally Adams, a Washington, DC, socialite, loosely based on the famous Washington hostess Perle Mesta, fared better, giving him his second-greatest success.


Irving Berlin made two attempts to write a musical about his friend, the colorful Addison Mizner, and Addison's con-man brother Wilson.


Irving Berlin did write one new song, "An Old-Fashioned Wedding", for the 1966 Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun starring Ethel Merman.


Irving Berlin maintained a low profile through the last decades of his life, almost never appearing in public after the late 1960s, even for events held in his honor.


Later, movies such as Top Hat became the first of a series of distinctive film musicals by Irving Berlin starring performers Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Ginger Rogers, and Alice Faye.


Irving Berlin continued this process with the films Holiday Inn, Blue Skies and Easter Parade, with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, and There's No Business Like Show Business.


Irving Berlin is the only Academy Award presenter and Academy Award winner to open the "envelope" and read his or her own name.


Irving Berlin said that he did most of his work under pressure.


In 1914, Irving Berlin joined him as a charter member of the organization that has protected the royalties of composers and writers ever since.


In 1920, Irving Berlin became a member of SACEM, the French Society of Authors, Composers, and Publishers.


Composer Jerome Kern recognized that the essence of Irving Berlin's lyrics was his "faith in the American vernacular" and was so profound that his best-known songs "seem indivisible from the country's history and self-image".


However, she notes that Porter, unlike Irving Berlin, was a Yale-educated and wealthy Midwesterner whose songs were not successful until he was in his thirties.


Irving Berlin went so far as to send her off to Europe to find other suitors and forget Berlin.


Irving Berlin had gone to her mother's home before the wedding and had obtained her blessing.


Irving Berlin hasn't forgotten his friends, he doesn't wear funny clothes, and you will find his watch and his handkerchief in his pockets, where they belong.


Irving Berlin never forgot those childhood years when he "slept under tenement steps, ate scraps, and wore secondhand clothes," and described those years as hard but good.


Irving Berlin used to visit The Music Box Theater, which he founded and which still stands at 239 West 45th St From 1947 to 1989, Berlin's home in New York City was 17 Beekman Place.


Irving Berlin's daughter wrote in her memoir that her father was a loving, if workaholic, family man who was "basically an upbeat person, with down periods".


Irving Berlin voted for both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, but he supported the presidential candidacy of General Dwight Eisenhower, and his song "I Like Ike" featured prominently in the Eisenhower campaign.


Irving Berlin was a noted member of The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.


Irving Berlin was honored in 1944 by the National Conference of Christians and Jews for "advancing the aims of the conference to eliminate religious and racial conflict".


Irving Berlin died in his sleep at his 17 Beekman Place town house in Manhattan on September 22,1989, of a heart attack and other natural causes at the age of 101.


Irving Berlin was interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York City.


Bush said Irving Berlin was "a legendary man whose words and music will help define the history of our nation".


Irving Berlin went on to write the scores for 20 original Broadway shows and 15 original Hollywood films, with his songs nominated for Academy Awards on eight occasions.


Irving Berlin inadvertently influenced American law when his publishing group sued Mad Magazine for copyright infringement in 1961.


Irving Berlin has caught and immortalized in his songs what we say, what we think about, and what we believe.


In 1924, when Berlin was 36, his biography, The Story of Irving Berlin, was being written by Alexander Woollcott.


Irving Berlin's songs are exquisite cameos of perfection, and each one of them is as beautiful as its neighbor.


Irving Berlin was the first to free the American song from the nauseating sentimentality which had previously characterized it, and by introducing and perfecting ragtime he had actually given us the first germ of an American musical idiom; he had sown the first seeds of an American music.