AS LORD Provost of Glasgow, you have to do a lot of meet-and-greets.

But of all the VIPs he had to shake hands with, Sir Hector McNeill looks particularly pleased welcoming this gent to the city.

It was September 1946, and the great American composer and lyricist Irving Berlin was in town for a trade screening of the film Blue Skies, for which he had written the story and music.

After the movie had been shown at Green’s Playhouse, the city cinema complex which went on to become the Apollo, Berlin attended a reception at the Central Hotel, accompanied by legendary Scottish singer Sir Harry Lauder and the Scottish film actor Mary Gordon (who regular Times Past readers will know from our recent story about her incredible screen legacy, even though she remains little-known in her native Glasgow.) Gordon’s most celebrated role was as Sherlock Holmes’s housekeeper, Mrs Hudson, in the Basil Rathbone series of thrillers.

Blue Skies starred Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and John Caulfield, in a tale about a dancer who loves a showgirl who loves a compulsive nightclub-opener who cannot stay committed to anything in life for very long.

It was written by Berlin, and designed as a showcase for his songs, most of which had been recycled from earlier works.

Irving Berlin with Mary Gordon and Sir Harry Lauder in Glasgow, 1946

Irving Berlin with Mary Gordon and Sir Harry Lauder in Glasgow, 1946

Irving Berlin is generally considered the greatest songwriter who ever lived, with many of his works now part of the fabric of American life.

He was born in 1888, in the Russian Empire, and moved to New York with his family in 1893.

The Berlins were one of hundreds of thousands of Jewish families who emigrated to the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s, escaping discrimination, poverty and brutal pogroms.

Irving left school around the age of 13, and started singing in saloons on the Lower East Side, learning along the way the kinds of songs people liked to listen to.

He taught himself to play the piano and had his first major hit, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, in 1911.

Over the next few decades, Berlin wrote 1500 songs, including White Christmas, Anything You Can Do, There’s No Business Like Show Business, Puttin’ on the Ritz, Easter Parade, Let’s Face the Music and Dance, and God Bless America.

He wrote scores for Broadway musicals and revues, and a number of Hollywood films.

READ MORE: Glasgow's legendary Apollo - fans share memories of music venue

His solitary Oscar was for White Christmas, from the film Holiday Inn. He was actually the presenter for that category at the 1943 Oscars.

Spotting his name on the card inside the envelope, he quipped: “I’m glad to present the awards. I’ve known him for a long time.”

Dozens of famous singers have performed his works over the years, from Al Jolson and Bing Crosby to Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, Rosemary Clooney and Doris Day.

Berlin died, aged 101, in September 1989.

Which famous faces have you spotted in Glasgow? Get in touch to share your stories and memories.