American song composer who lived from 1888 until 1989. His 1911, the song "Alexander's Ragtime Band" was his first hit. For the next fifty years he produced some very well known songs, including "Blue Skies," "God Bless America," "White Christmas" and "There's No Business Like Show Business." He achieved this despite the fact that he was a Russian-Jewish immigrant that grew up in a New York tenement. (Anti-Semitism was rather stronger in the 1930's, to say the least.)

He wrote for Hollywood in the 1930’s and continued to write for Broadway. Some of his best works were written in the 1940’s including Annie Get Your Gun (1946). But he started to lose touch. His last musical, Mr. President (1962) was a huge flop. He withdrew from the world until his death in 1989.

Factoid: His original name was Israel Baline.

An interesting bit of trivia about Irving Berlin:

While not known as a virtuoso, many considered Irving Berlin to be a fine pianist and he had several performances during his career, both informal and at Hollywood industry functions.

It was a well-kept secret among his family, friends, and close associates that he could only play in one key: F# Major. Everything he composed was in F# as he wrote at the keyboard and then had be transposed in to an appropriate key.

I found this to be quite amusing.

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