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They Reached for the Stars and Became One

They Reached for the Stars and Became One
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.14

     challenging words:    guitarists, mammy, misprint, all-time, recording, fame, entertainer, publicity, performer, greatly, hosted, reality, trademark, arrival, makeup, mariachi
     content words:    United States, Israel Isidore Baline, Young Israel, Sunny Italy, Irving Berlin, Ragtime Band, God Bless America, Get Up, Easter Parade, No Business Like Show Business

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They Reached for the Stars and Became One
By Jane Runyon

1     Entertainers have found fame and fortune in the United States. Not all famous entertainers were born in America. Some were born in lands far away. Some came to the States at very young ages. Some were older and made the decision to leave their native country on their own. You are going to read about just a few of the many immigrants who have made names for themselves in the United States in the entertainment field.
2     Irving Berlin's birth name was Israel Isidore Baline. He was born in Mogilev, which is now Belarus. The year was 1888. He came to America with his family in 1893. Just three years later, his father died. Young Israel had to work many jobs as a young boy just to keep his family from starving. When he was a young adult, he worked in a café as a singing waiter. A competing café adopted a song they used to bring customers in. Israel's boss asked him to write a song that his café could use for publicity. Israel wrote and published his first song, "Marie from Sunny Italy," for which he earned the whopping sum of thirty-seven cents. When the song was printed, Israel's name was misprinted. The copies listed him as I. Berlin. Irving Berlin was created from that misprint. Berlin's first big hit song was "Alexander's Ragtime Band." It was published in 1911. From there, Berlin went on to become one of America's most famous composers. Among his famous songs you may recognize "God Bless America," "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning," "Easter Parade," "There's No Business Like Show Business," and the best selling song of all-time, "White Christmas." Berlin died in New York City at the age of 101.
3     One of the very first stars of stage and screen was a singer named Al Jolson. Jolson was born Asa Yoelson in 1886 in Seredzius, Lithuania. He came to America with his family as a small child. They settled in the Washington, D.C., area. He and his brother entertained troops on leave from the Spanish-American War. His personality and singing won audiences over quickly. He soon had a group of fans that pushed him into performing professionally. His act eventually led him to become a star in one of the very first talking pictures ever made, The Jazz Singer. Some of the songs he made famous were "Mammy," "You Made Me Love You," "Toot Toot Tootsie, Goodbye," and many more. He hosted a highly rated radio show until his death in 1950.

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United States
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