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Irving Berlin (5/11/1888 - 9/22/1989)

Irving Berlin wrote the music and lyrics for the most quintessentially American songs: “God Bless America” (1938), “Easter Parade” (1933), “There’s No Business Like Show Business” (1936) and “White Christmas” (1942). But he was born into a poor cantor’s family in Siberia. When Russian Cossacks victimized the Jews, the family escaped to a new kind of poverty in America where all eight young children went to work.

Berlin became a singing waiter, taught himself piano, and published his first song in 1907. In 1909 he wrote a song in Yiddish dialect for Fanny Brice, who credits him with starting her comedic career, and in 1914 he wrote his first Broadway show. While a soldier in WWI he produced an all-military show in which he sang “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning” (1918).


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