Berlin, Irving

Berlin, Irving bərlĭnˈ [key], 1888–1989, American songwriter, b. Russia as Israel Baline; his Jewish family fled a pogrom in 1893 and settled in New York's Lower East Side. Alexander's Ragtime Band (1911) was his first outstanding hit. In 1918, while he was in the army, he wrote, produced, and acted in Yip, Yip, Yaphank, which he rewrote in 1942 as This Is the Army. Berlin wrote songs for several of the Ziegfeld Follies and the Music Box Revue (1921–24) as well as the Broadway musicals As Thousands Cheer (1933), Annie Get Your Gun (1946), Miss Liberty (1949), Call Me Madam (1950), and Mr. President (1962). He was the composer of numerous film scores, and several of his stage musicals were filmed. Among his nearly 1,000 songs the best known include “God Bless America,” “Easter Parade,” “White Christmas,” and “There's No Business like Show Business.”

See his early songs ed. by C. Hamm (1995) and complete lyrics ed. by R. Kimball and L. Emmet (2001); memoir by M. E. Barrett, his daughter (1994); biographies by M. Freedland (1974), L. Bergreen (1990), E. Jablonski (1999), and J. Kaplan (2019).

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