skip navigation
Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (4)

Recent DVDs

 
 

Easter Parade DVD Strolling along 5th Avenue or going on the bum as A Couple of Swells, Judy... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

Broadway: The American Musical... Follow over 100 years of song, dance, and magic on "the Great White Way" with... more info $34.99was $34.99 Buy Now

Mammy DVD Center stage, singing his heart out – that’s how fans love Al Jolson. And that’s... more info $19.99was $19.99 Buy Now



Also Known As: Israel Isidore Baline Died: September 22, 1989
Born: May 11, 1888 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Russia Profession: composer, songwriter, screenwriter, singing waiter, newspaper boy

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of the most important composers of American popular music in the twentieth century, Berlin, whose "Alexander's Ragtime Band" all but invented the popular song, dominated American musical films and plays of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Berlin wrote the first song ever to be used in a film--"Blue Skies", performed by Al Jolson in "The Jazz Singer" (1927). He went on to compose the words and music for such films as "Top Hat" (1935), "Follow the Fleet" (1936), "Alexander's Ragtime Band" (1938), "Holiday Inn" (1942), "Blue Skies" (1946) and such stage shows as "Annie, Get Your Gun" and "Call Me Madam". Berlin was also the composer of one of America's most beloved patriotic songs, "God Bless America".

One of the most important composers of American popular music in the twentieth century, Berlin, whose "Alexander's Ragtime Band" all but invented the popular song, dominated American musical films and plays of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Berlin wrote the first song ever to be used in a film--"Blue Skies", performed by Al Jolson in "The Jazz Singer" (1927). He went on to compose the words and music for such films as "Top Hat" (1935), "Follow the Fleet" (1936), "Alexander's Ragtime Band" (1938), "Holiday Inn" (1942), "Blue Skies" (1946) and such stage shows as "Annie, Get Your Gun" and "Call Me Madam". Berlin was also the composer of one of America's most beloved patriotic songs, "God Bless America".

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 This Is the Army (1943) Himself
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1893:
Immigrated to the United States
1907:
First song published, "Marie from Sunny Italy" (earned him 37 cents in royalties)
1911:
Had first hit song, "Alexander's Ragtime Band"
:
Served as sergeant in the infantry during WWI
1919:
Formed Irving Berlin Music Corp.
1927:
First song used in films, "Blue Skies," sung by Al Jolson in "The Jazz Singer"
1935:
Wrote first original film musical, "Top Hat"
1942:
First stage musical as producer, "This Is the Army" (written for US Army Emergency Relief Fund); also produced film version with Warner Bros. (1943)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

"Irving Berlin has no place in American music. He IS American music." --Jerome Kern

Began using the name Irving Berlin after a printer's error for his first song credited him as I. Berlin (instead of Baline).

Berlin, who never learned to read or write music and was only able to compose in F sharp, was once quoted as saying (after being told that the more money he made the more in taxes he would have to pay) "You don't understand. I came to this country from Russia, and look what's happened to me. The country has been wonderful to me. I love this country. I love to pay taxes." Backing his words with action, Berlin gave the government the royalties from "This Is the Army," a total of about ten million dollars. (He also donated the rights to "God Bless America" to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America.)

Berlin has the distinction of being the only individual ever to present himself with an Oscar. He was selected to name the winner of the Best Song award and had to inform the audience that the winner was "White Christmas", written by Irving Berlin.

Over the course of his Hollywood career, Berlin received nine Academy Award nominations; seven in the Best Song category and two in the Best Screenwriting category.

He received the Congressional Gold Medal for the song "God Bless America" in 1954/55.

Received the Medal of Merit for the song "This is the Army"

Awarded French Legion of Honor.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Dorothy Goetz. Her death from typhoid fever five months after their 1912 marriage inspired Berlin to write "When I Lost You".
wife:
Ellin Mackay. Writer, socialite, silver mining heiress. Married on January 4, 1926; born c. 1903; died in July 1988.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Moses Baline. Cantor.
mother:
Leah Baline.
sister:
Gussie Baline.
sister:
Ruth Kahn.
sister:
Sarah Baline. Died in 1935 in apparent suicide.
brother:
Ben Baline. Furrier.
sister:
Sophie Liebster.
sister:
Ethel Robinson.
daughter:
Mary Ellin Berlin. Author, singer. Born on November 26, 1926; wrote memoir about her father.
son:
Irving Berlin Jr. Born on December 1, 1928; died at aged three weeks on December 25, 1928.
daughter:
Linda Berlin. Born on February 1932.
daughter:
Elizabeth Irving Berlin. Born on June 16, 1936.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Berlin, Kern, Rodgers, Hart, and Hammerstein: A Complete Song Catalogue" McFarland
"As Thousand Cheers: The Life of Irving Berlin"
"Irving Berlin: A Daughter's Memoir"
"Irving Berlin: Songs From the Melting Pot: The Formative Years, 1907-1914" Oxford University Press
"Irving Berlin: American Troubadour" Henry Holt & Co
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute