The Kate Smith/God Bless America Foundation Friday announced 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.He 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 tune and in the final years of her life would sing it on a regular basis at Philadelphia Flyers' home games.
Both Smith's and Berlin's proceeds from the song were donated to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America.
Hayes said the "missing" manuscript left a trail that goes back to January 1942, when it was given to Tommy Shattuck, a Schrafft's candy store heir. Shattuck later sold it to a son-in-law, William Cheadle of Clearwater, Fla., who resold it to the Gallery of History.
The foundation is based in Lake Placid, where Kate Smith is buried in a large pink mausoleum on the grounds of the St. Agnes parish church.