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Irving Berlin was one of the most prolific and popular songwriters of the 20th century, counting among his many hits "White Christmas" and "Cheek to Cheek."
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Berlin shaped patriotic fervor as well with his composition of "God Bless America," first sung by Kate Smith in 1938 and becoming an "unofficial" national anthem of the United States. After the war, Berlin struck Broadway gold again with 1946's Annie Get Your Gun,
inspired by the life of Annie Oakley. The smash musical starred Ethel Merman and featured a slew of popular songs like "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better," "I Got the Sun in the Morning" and "There's No Business Like Show Business." Berlin had another hit with Merman with the 1950 musical Call Me Madam, which was also turned into a 1953 film.
Irving Berlin would ultimately be nominated for nine Academy Awards with seven nods in the song category, winning in 1943 for "White Christmas." Many of Berlin's songs became popular hits and are considered part of the standards canon, having been covered by a multitude of artists who include Shirley Bassey, Nat King Cole, Diana Krall, Willie Nelson, Linda Ronstadt, Frank Sinatra and Nancy Wilson.
After crafting the 1962 musical Mr. President, Berlin retired, spending ample time in his Catskill Mountains home and eventually withdrawing from public appearances. Nonetheless, he continued to receive accolades and an outpouring of praise for his magnificent contributions to the musical landscape. He died in New York City on September 22, 1989, at the age of 101.
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