Composer. Born Israel Isidore Beilin, in Belorussia , the son of a kosher butcher and cantor, the family left Russia to escape religious persecution, and settled in New York City, New York. In 1907, he published his first song, 'Marie From Sunny Italy,' under the pen name I. Berlin. Although he never learned to read music, he began as a lyricist with the music publishing partnership of Waterson & Snyder, and it was another four years before his first hit song. In 1911, 'Alexander's Ragtime Band,' was published to popular acclaim. In 1912, he married Dorothy Goetz, who contracted typhoid on their honeymoon. When she died four months later, his grief was voiced in the ballad, 'When I Lost You.' Further songs, such as 'Blue Skies,' 'Cheek to Cheek ,' 'Easter Parade ,' 'Heat Wave,' 'Oh, How I Hate to Get up in the Morning,' 'A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody,' 'Puttin' on the Ritz, and 'What'll I Do' have become American standards. He composed more than 1,500 songs in his career, and scored numerous stage musicals such as 'Annie Get Your Gun,' (1946) which included 'There's No Business Like Show Business,' and feature films such as 'Puttin' on the Ritz' (1929), 'Alexander's Ragtime Band' (1938), 'Easter Parade' (1948) 'Top Hat '(1935), and 1942's 'Holiday Inn' which included what has become one of the most recorded songs in history; 'White Christmas.' His 'God Bless America,' which was premiered by Kate Smith in 1938, has been called the unofficial national anthem of the United States, and for which, he was presented with a Congressional Gold Medal. He was awarded the Army's Medal of Merit from President Harry Truman in 1945. He was nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning once for 'White Christmas.' After the failure of the 1962 musical, 'Mr. President,' he retired. In 1963, he was presented with a Special Tony Award for his contributions to musical theatre. He was inducted into the American Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. In 1977, he was awarded the Freedom Medal from President Gerald Ford. Eventually, however, he withdrew from public appearances altogether. He succumbed to natural causes at the age of 101. In 2002, the U.S. Army named the Army Entertainment Division World Headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, 'The Irving Berlin Center' in his honor. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame at 7095 Hollywood Blvd.
Bio by: Iola