In this book, Irving Berlin comes to life as a father, a husband and a friend - as well as the most enduring and beloved songwriter of this century. We see his good times and his bad, his public life and his private one. Mary Ellin Barrett, Berlin's oldest daughter and the author of three previous books, puts her father's work into perspective and reveals the truth behind certain darker and more mysterious elements of the Irving Berlin no other biographer has understood. "The bulk of the memoir concentrates on the half-century of triumphs that began with Alexander's Ragtime Band and included White Christmas, God Bless America, and There's No Business Like Show Business. Touching, wise, gracefully written." - The New York Times
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A portrait of a prolific songwriter reveals his humble origins in Russia, his meager existence in Lower Manhattan, his scandalous romances, and his rise to fame and wealth.From Kirkus Reviews:
Life with father, glossing over the bad times and trumpeting the good. Although billed as a memoir of her father, this is really Barrett's story, a recreation of a protected world of family, and friends, and small, youthful follies. Irving Berlin (18881989) was nearly 40 and already a successful songwriter when he eloped with the 23-year-old society belle Ellin MacKay. The story was widely covered because of the disparity in their backgrounds: he, a Lower East Side Jewish immigrant who worked in the lowly field of ``entertainment''; she, the daughter of wealth and privilege, whose Catholic father cut her out of his will when he learned of her marriage. Their first daughter, Mary Ellin, was born 11 months later, in 1926, and this memoir-autobiography primarily covers the period from her childhood to her marriage. Thus, she misses the dramatic story of Berlin's rise to the top as a Broadway composer; indeed, the coverage of Berlin the musician is slight, limited mostly to memories of opening night jitters and faint tinklings coming from the pianist's study. Barrett touches upon her father's early Hollywood years in the late '20s and early '30s, including his famous scores for the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers vehicles Follow the Fleet and Top Hat, his prewar Broadway triumphs, particularly the hit As Thousands Cheer, a detailed account of his World War IIera labor-of-love production of This Is the Army, taking him to the battlefields of Italy and the South Pacific as performer/promoter/songwriter, his postwar hits, including the classic Annie Get Your Gun, and his final slide into retirement. There are glimpses of Berlin's business dealings, but only as distant rumbles that sometimes disturbed domestic life. Berlin is portrayed as an intensely private, troubled man, either manically creative or deeply depressed, suffering from chronic insomnia, who had only a scanty relationship with his daughter. This memoir succeeds on a small scale, as a daughter's reach across time to recapture her childhood and make a final attempt to connect with her father. (b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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