JOE BLITMAN'S
FASHION & CELEBRITY DOLLS
2021 HOLIDAY ADVENT CALENDAR
DAY 1




16 Dartmouth Drive
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
323-953-6490

 
joeblitman@aol.com





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IRVING BERLIN
1888 - 1989

  



Today, our 2021 Holiday Advent Calendar spotlight is on the spectacularly-talented Irving Berlin. 

George Gershwin said "Irving Berlin is the greatest songwriter who ever lived." 

Jerome Kern was asked what place Berlin had in American music.  His reply?  “Irving Berlin has no place in American music; he IS American music.” 

Irving Berlin's career lasted for 60 years and, during that time, he published about 1500 songs for Broadway, for Hollywood musicals, and for the Hit Parade (an early version of the Top 40). 

Before we get to the specifics of his career and life (including a long-forgotten “scandal”), here are the joeslist.com website items we’re featuring today:




JET BLACK BUBBLECUT BARBIE
(1961)
$195.00


TALKING KEN
(1969)
NRFB - MUTE
$139.00

BARBIE BABY-SITS
(1st version)
Excellent+ & complete
$75.00


MINIATURE
POS'N BARBIE PAPER DOLLS
$9.00

SOLD - SORRY



I LIKE YOUR STYLE
  STORMER & JETTA GIFT SET
THE MISFITS
(2021)
$375.00




LAMB 'N LEATHER
(1970)
NRFB
$275.00
SOLD - SORRY

 

 


FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE
PIONEERING NURSE
& STATISTICIAN
INSPIRING WOMEN SERIES
(2020)
$24.99





1990's BLOND BARBIE DRESSED IN A
LARA WHITE & GRAY MINK COAT
(1995ish)
$249.99


PERFUME PRETTY CHRISTIE
(1988)
$59.00


2019 NATIONAL BARBIE DOLL CONVENTION
AUTOGRAPH BOOK

$4.99


GIFT CERTIFICATES
IN ANY AMOUNT YOU WANT






Born an orthodox Jew in Russia, Irving Berlin was brought to America at the age of five. His only memory of life in Russia was sitting on a roadside and watching his home burn to the ground (torched by anti-semites). 

Berlin was a self-taught composer/lyricist and started getting his songs published in 1907.   His first of many gigantic, global hits was “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” in 1911, sung here by Alice Faye in the 1930’s:
 




He wrote “A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" for the Ziegfeld Follies of 1919.  It proved such a sensation that it was used in all subsequent Follies productions.  Here it is sung in a 1936 biopic called “The Great Ziegfeld”:
 





A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody


Berlin's songs are deceptively simple.  The music is melodic and the words are direct.  He doesn’t rely on tricky rhymes, florid adjectives, or musical curlicues to grab the listener.  A Berlin ballad is genuinely heartfelt, and his uptempo tunes are infused with irresistible energy.


EVERYONE sang Irving Berlin's songs in their day, but he had three favorite vocalists.  They all had impeccable diction (songwriters love it when the audience can hear and understand every word) and Berlin provided each of them with the song that went on to become their signature tune.

For Bing Crosby, it was “White Christmas”:


 
White Christmas



For Fred Astaire, it was “Top Hat, White Tie & Tails”:



Top Hat, White Tie & Tails


And for Ethel Merman, it was “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” from his biggest stage hit, “Annie Get Your Gun”:




Over a 28 year period, Merman sang the song seemingly at every opportunity, as the following clip shows:

There's No Business Like Show Business



Irving Berlin was a super-patriot.  He was eternally grateful to America for taking him in as an immigrant. 



During both the First and Second World Wars, he created shows for the sole benefit of Armed Forces charities. 

One song he wrote during World War l went unsung and unpublished until the late 1930’s, when the upcoming World War II became visible to those whose heads weren’t parked in the sand. 

This was “God Bless America,” the royalties from which have always gone to the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts organizations. 

Kate Smith introduced the song and made it her own for decades.




God Bless America


One of the great things about Irving Berlin's songs is that so many of them are timeless.  And they keep being reinvented.  Here are five versions of "Puttin’ on the Ritz": 

From 1930, here’s Harry Richman, the song’s originator:




 
Harry Richman - Puttin' On The Ritz


In the 1940’s, Fred Astaire performed it in the movie, “Blue Skies”:



  Fred Astaire - Puttin' On The Ritz


In the 70’s, Mel Brooks had fun with it in “Young Frankenstein”:





Young Frankenstein - Puttin' On The Ritz


In the Disco era of the 80’s, Taco put its imprint on the seemingly-indestructible song:





Taco - Puttin' On The Ritz


And, a decade ago, Irving Berlin and his song were a smash in Moscow for the best Flash Mob we’ve ever seen:

 



Moscow Flash Mob - Puttin' On The Ritz


Some Irving Berlin trivia: 

In 1943, Irving Berlin was the presenter of the 3 music awards at the Academy Awards.  When he opened the envelope for the winner of the Best Song, he was surprised to see his own  “White Christmas.”    Ad-libbing, he said:  “I’m glad to present the award.  I’ve known him for a long time.”  It’s the only time a presenter won the award they were presenting.


And now for the promised Irving Berlin “scandal”: 

In 1924, Irving Berlin fell in love with Ellin Mackay, a debutante in the New York social register and the daughter of one of the richest men in the country. 



Despite her father’s vehement objection to her having a romance with a Jewish immigrant, Irving and Ellin played out the courtship for two years under the intense daily scrutiny of the mass media. Both the tabloids AND the better sort of newspaper -- like The New York Times -- were all over the story all the time. 

Brangelina and Bennifer had nothing on the Irving Berlin-Ellin Mackay saga. 

Ellin’s father tried everything to break them up, including sending her to Europe for a long stay.  Berlin countered by writing songs like “Remember” and “All Alone” to let her know how he was feeling.

The couple finally wed at City Hall in NYC in 1926, and Ellin’s father promptly disinherited her!

Three years later, when the stock market crashed, there was nothing left of the Mackay fortune to disinherit. 
To make up for the lack of an inheritance, Berlin wrote "Always" and gave Ellin the rights and royalties to the song.

Irving and Ellin Berlin remained happily married for 62 years.






Always









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