Born May 11, 1888 In Russia (Belarus) Last of 8 children Irving Berlin Israel Baline His father was a Jewish Cantor (Synagogue singer) Cossacks burned his family home Family fled to New York City
They lived in an apartment with no windows The father died. Irving sold newspapers. His brother sewed shirts. His sisters wrapped cigars. His mother was a midwife. The family was very poor.
Irving ran away from home. He sang in bars with his friends. Later, he became a singing waiter. He began to write songs.
In 1911, Irving Berlin wrote a world wide hit song. Alexander’s Ragtime Band
In 1918 he gave up his Russian citizenship and became an American citizen. He was drafted into the army. He wrote patriotic songs for a show. He wrote “God Bless America,” but it was not performed then.
Irving Berlin wrote 1500 songs 19 Broadway shows 18 Hollywood films
In 1938 Kate Smith sang a version of “God Bless America”. Berlin’s Manuscript