“Goodbye” Irving Berlin – Died 22 September 1989
Irving Berlin (born Israel Isidore Beilin, May 11, 1888 – September 22, 1989) was an American composer and lyricist of Jewish origin, born near Mogilev in the then Russian Empire, present-day Belarus. He published his first song, “Marie from Sunny Italy”, in 1907 and had his first major international hit, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” in 1911.
He wrote hundreds of songs, many becoming major hits, which made him “a legend” before he turned thirty. During his 60-year career he wrote an estimated 1,500 songs, including the scores for 19 Broadway shows and 18 Hollywood films, with his songs nominated eight times for Academy Awards. Many songs became popular themes and anthems, including “Easter Parade”, “White Christmas”, “Happy Holiday”, “This is the Army, Mr. Jones”, and “There’s No Business Like Show Business”. His Broadway musical and 1942 film, This is the Army, with Ronald Reagan, had Kate Smith singing Berlin’s “God Bless America” which was first performed in 1938.
Berlin’s songs have reached the top of the charts 25 times and have been re-recorded by numerous singers including Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Rosemary Clooney, Cher, Diana Ross, Bing Crosby, Frankie Laine, Al Jolson, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Doris Day and Ella Fitzgerald.
Composer George Gershwin called him “the greatest songwriter that has ever lived”, and composer Jerome Kern concluded that “IrvingBerlin has no place in American music—he is American music.”