Irving Berlin is one of the acclaimed masters of the American song, but even though he lived through what has often been called the golden era of Broadway, he left us very few Broadway musicals – Annie Get Your Gun (1946), Miss Liberty (1949), Call Me Madam (1950), and Mr. President (1962). Active in New York in the 1910s and 1920s, Berlin became successful through the songs he had written in Hollywood for the movies. The popular song, “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” was never actually heard on Broadway until the opening of Mel Brooks’s musical, Young Frankenstein.
Curiously, Berlin’s larger contribution to Broadway was as theater owner. He had built his own theater, the Music Box, after World War I, to have a venue in which to present his new songs. His first show there was the Music Box Revue of 1921.