IRVING BERLIN HOUSE, Turtle Bay

by Kevin Walsh

Speaking of “White Christmas,” which we almost had this year before a windy rainstorm washed away last week’s snow accumulation, here’s the house on Beekman Place and East 50th Street where the composer lived.

#17 Beekman Place, on the corner of East 50th, is home to the permanent UN mission of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the third of the so-called Benelux European states: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. It is a small country of a little more than a half million population, bordered by Belgium, France and Germany, and is the last remaining world government ruled by a grand duke. Luxembourg is the world’s second largest investment fund center (after the United States), the most important private banking center in the eurozone and Europe’s leading center for reinsurance companies, according to wikipedia.

French, German and the native Luxembourgish are spoken there.

#17 was home to one of the grand old names in pop music, Irving Berlin, from 1947 until his death at age 101 in 1989. Berlin wrote countless classics of the American songbook, including the “unofficial” national anthem, “God Bless America,” as well as “White Christmas,” Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Always,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and hundreds of instantly recognizable others. “White Christmas” even returned Bing to the Billboard chart in December 2020.

Merry Christmas!

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”

12/25/20

5 comments

chris December 25, 2020 - 11:05 pm

Irving Berlin was so prolific a songwriter that when I was a kid I thought he was a company,not a person.

Reply
Peter December 27, 2020 - 2:03 pm

When he reached his mid-60’s he retired and stayed retired. Even though he lived another 35+ years, mostly in good health, he did no more composing and made no more public appearances.

Reply
Ed Findlay December 29, 2020 - 12:33 am

He tried to retire but was drawn back in, he retired in 1954 after the movie “White Christmas” was made but got dragged back in twice: in 1962 and 1966. He was 78 when he finally retired for good!

Reply
P-j Greiner December 26, 2020 - 9:29 am

This is also the spot that the composer’s fans have gathered every Christmas Eve since 1982 to sing “White Christmas” and other Berlin favorites. Great history of Berlin’s favorites haunts in this NY Times article, “Dreaming of Irving Berlin in the Season That He Owned”, 12/23/2005. Not sure if they still sing there, but I’d like to think they do.

Reply
redstaterefugee December 27, 2020 - 10:18 am

Unfortunately, they probably can’t, thanks to COVID-iocy (Fauci & Co forbid singing publicly).

Reply

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