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SHORT TAKES : Original 'God Bless America' Found--With Berlin's Changes

December 21, 1990| From Times Staff and Wire Service Reports

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — The Kate Smith/God Bless America Foundation announced today the discovery of the original manuscript for Irving Berlin's classic patriotic tune at a gallery in Las Vegas.

The discovery of the "God Bless America" manuscript, which includes a crucial change in the lyrics by Berlin, was a "most thrilling" event, said foundation spokesman Charles D'Imperio.

D'Imperio said the manuscript, which had been presumed lost, surfaced at the Gallery of History in Las Vegas, where it is up for sale at a price of $295,000.

Todd Axelrod of the gallery said the manuscript's historical value lies in the fact that Berlin had penned a change in the song's most famous lyric.

In it, Berlin changed a line "From the green fields of Virginia to the gold fields out in Nome" to "From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam, God bless America, My home sweet home."

Kate Smith biographer Richard Hayes said the song is "one of a handful of truly great American songs." Smith was closely identified with the stirring tune and in the final years of her life would sing it on a regular basis at Philadelphia Flyers' home games.

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