GREAT PERFORMANCES: IRVING BERLIN'S AMERICA (TV)

Summary

One in this series of programs on the performing arts. This program, hosted by Sandy Duncan, pays tribute to the lifelong accomplishments of the popular songwriter Irving Berlin. Duncan explains how the social climate of the United States affected the work of Berlin during the following periods of the twentieth century: the years leading up to World War I when Berlin popularized ragtime music; World War I when Berlin wrote an all-soldier revue entitled "Yip, Yip, Yaphank"; the years following World War I when the composer-lyricist created the love ballad; the Depression when Berlin charmed America with funny, upbeat songs; World War II when he performed with the USO, created the musical "This Is the Army," and wrote the song "White Christmas"; the years following World War II when Berlin wrote the score for the Broadway hit "Annie Get Your Gun" and visited U.S. troops in Berlin; the 1950s when Berlin received the Medal of Honor for composing "God Bless America"; and the early 1960s when he wrote his last Broadway musical, "Mr. President." During this program, the following performers discuss how Berlin affected their lives: Alice Faye, who comments on the gadget that Berlin had attached to his piano which enabled him to change keys; Cab Calloway, who recalls meeting Berlin at the Cotton Club; Ginger Rogers, who reminisces about singing Berlin's music; Donald O'Connor, who explains the concept of vaudeville and discusses Berlin's style; Nanette Fabray, who talks about Berlin's humorous songs and her co-starring role in "Mr. President"; Sidney Sheldon, who comments on Berlin's inspirational talent; Bob Hope and Patty Andrews, who each reminisce about performing with Berlin in USO shows during World War II; Mary Martin and Howard Keel, who each talk about the musical "Annie Get Your Gun"; Rosemary Clooney, who praises Berlin's ability to get to the point with his lyrics without being predictable; and President Ronald Reagan, who explains how Berlin is the epitome of the American dream. Also included are clips of the following, among others: Alice Faye singing "Alexander's Ragtime Band"; Berlin demonstrating the magical quality of his first piano, which contained a moveable keyboard; Al Jolson singing the first song ever heard in a movie, "Blue Skies"; Ginger Rogers singing "Let Yourself Go"; Dan Dailey and Ethel Merman singing "When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam'"; Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire performing "A Couple of Song and Dance Men"; Judy Garland and Fred Astaire singing "Snooky Ookums," "Coupla Swells," and "Ragtime Violin"; Fred Astaire performing "Puttin' on the Ritz"; Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the movie musical "Top Hat"; Fred Astaire singing "Cheek to Cheek"; Kate Smith singing a patriotic song written by Berlin; the Andrew Sisters singing "Any Bonds Today"; Bugs Bunny "performing" "Any Bonds Today"; various male singers performing "Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning"; Ronald Reagan in a clip from "This Is the Army"; Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas"; Ethel Merman singing "You Can't Get a Man With a Gun"; Mary Martin performing songs from "Annie Get Your Gun"; Betty Hutton and Howard Keel singing "Anything You Can Do"; rare footage of Judy Garland performing "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" for the film version of "Annie Get Your Gun" (before she was replaced by Betty Hutton); Bob Hope and Irving Berlin performing in Berlin; Ethel Merman singing "The Hostess with the Mostess"; Ethel Merman and Donald O'Connor singing "You're Just in Love"; Bing Crosby singing "Count Your Blessings"; Harry Richman singing "Puttin' on the Ritz"; Taco performing "Puttin' on the Ritz"; Willie Nelson singing "Blue Skies"; Diana Ross singing "Always"; Linda Ronstadt singing "What'll I Do?"; Maureen McGovern and pianist Marvin Hamlisch performing "I Got the Sun in the Morning"; and Irving Berlin, who is joined by a chorus of various scout members, singing "God Bless America."

Cataloging of this program was made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 1996.

Details

  • NETWORK: PBS
  • DATE: March 7, 1986 Friday 9:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:13:25
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:18129
  • GENRE: Public affairs/Documentaries
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Biography
  • SERIES RUN: PBS - TV series, 1974-
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

    • Jac Venza … Executive Producer
    • Stephan Chodorov … Executive Producer
    • John Musilli … Executive Producer
    • Joann G. Young … Producer, Writer
    • James Arnitz … Associate Producer, Writer
    • Glenn DuBose … Director
    • Sandy Duncan … Host
    • Patty Andrews … Guest
    • Cab Calloway … Guest
    • Rosemary Clooney … Guest
    • Nanette Fabray … Guest
    • Alice Faye … Guest
    • Bob Hope … Guest
    • Howard Keel … Guest
    • Mary Martin … Guest
    • Donald O'Connor … Guest
    • Ronald Reagan … Guest
    • Ginger Rogers … Guest
    • Sidney Sheldon … Guest
    • Footage of:
    • Andrew Sisters, The
    • Fred Astaire
    • Irving Berlin
    • Bugs Bunny
    • Bing Crosby
    • Dan Daley
    • Alice Faye
    • Judy Garland
    • Marvin Hamlisch
    • Bob Hope
    • Betty Hutton
    • Al Jolson
    • Howard Keel
    • Mary Martin
    • Maureen McGovern
    • Ethel Merman
    • Willie Nelson
    • Donald O'Connor
    • Ginger Rogers
    • Linda Ronstadt
    • Diana Ross
    • Kate Smith
    • Taco