The cabaret beat

or the extraordinary story of “Why we go to cabaret” article by Ellin Mackay in 1925 that saw The New Yorker sold out and gave Ellin a lifetime subscription to the magazine.

The story is about the debutante Ellin Mackay and her extraordinary life with her quick wedding with Irving Berlin the most famous songwriter in the world, six weeks after her article appeared, how she gave up everything for him and how her story provided ongoing promotional publicity to the magazine.

The story that caught my heart and attention in Ellin’s life was that what could have been a sordid bad youth choice was in fact the illustration of love being blind to religious and social differences, and that uniqueness can lead to greatness:

Berlin was an agnostic, but Ellin thought that both his and her religious traditions should be honored in their family. Christmas, Hanukkah, Passover, Easter—the Berlins celebrated all. In the family’s uniqueness they devised a blended culture of their own.” […] “Their self-constructed family life probably contributed to his biggest and most enduring hit, “White Christmas,” along with his other perennial, “Easter Parade”—both unexpected songs to have been written by a Jewish songwriter. 

Irving Berlin outlived the seventy-five-year copyright limit on his early songs, dying in 1989, at the age of a hundred and one. Ellin lived to be eighty-five, predeceasing him by a year.

On the manuscript: Ellin never learned to type, make a bed, cook, or so much as boil an egg […] the neat handwriting at the beginning becomes faster and less neat as it goes along, and the lines begin to slant. There’s passion in the document’s physical self as well as in what it says.