Norman Gimbel: Happy Days; Killing Me Softly

Norman Gimbel wrote English lyrics for Michel Legrand’s music from Jacques Demy’s romantic 1964 French film Les Parapluies de Cherbourg

Norman GimbelOne of the deaths of 2018 I managed to miss until recently was that of Norman Gimbel at the age of 91. You say you never heard of him? That’s possible, but surely you’ve heard his output.

“Norman Gimbel was born in Brooklyn on Nov. 16, 1927. His parents — Morris Gimbel, who was in the restaurant business, and Lottie (Nass) Gimbel — were Jewish immigrants from Austria.” He studied English at Baruch College and Columbia University..

He “wrote lyrics for two Broadway musicals, ‘Whoop-Up’ (1958) and ‘The Conquering Hero’ (1961), working with the composer Moose Charlap. The first show, set on an American Indian reservation, earned two Tony nominations; the second, starring Tom Poston as a fake war hero, had a book by Larry Gelbart. Despite positive reviews, both musicals flopped at the box office and closed early.

“Both of Mr. Gimbel’s marriages, to the fashion model Elinor Rowley and to Victoria Carver, a lawyer, ended in divorce. In addition to his son Tony, survivors include another son, Peter; two daughters, Nelly Gimbel and Hannah Gimbel Dal Pozzo; and four grandchildren.

“Mr. Gimbel gave relatively few interviews. In a six-minute segment as a contestant (alongside Burt Bacharach and Jerry Leiber) on ‘Play Your Hunch,’ an early Merv Griffin game show, he spoke only three words.”

Norman Gimbel was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984.

LISTEN TO THESE – His writing partner is Charles Fox, unless otherwise indicated. Chart action is generally the Billboard pop charts.

Ricochet – Teresa Brewer, #2 for two weeks in 1953, written with Larry Coleman and Joe Darion

Sway – Dean Martin with the Dick Stabile orchestra, #15 in 1954 “Sway” – “Quién será?” is a bolero-mambo written by Mexican composer Luis Demetrio, who sold the rights to fellow songwriter Pablo Beltrán Ruiz

Canadian Sunset- Andy Williams, #7 in 1956, with music by jazz pianist Eddie Heywood

I Will Follow Him – Little Peggy March, #1 for three weeks pop, #1 soul in 1963 – first recorded in 1961 by Franck Pourcel, as an instrumental titled “Chariot”. The music was written by Pourcel (using the pseudonym J.W. Stole) and Paul Mauriat (using the pseudonym Del Roma).

The Girl From Ipanema – Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz, #5 in 1964 -written in 1962, with music by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes

I Will Wait for You – Nana Mouskouri and Michel Legrand (1973). Gimbel wrote English lyrics for Legrand’s music from Jacques Demy’s romantic 1964 French film Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg)

Jim Croce – I Got a Name, #10 in 1973, from the movie The Last American Hero

Killing Me Softly With His Song – Roberta Flack, #1 for five weeks pop, #2 for four weeks soul. “Lori Lieberman, a California bistro singer, had recorded the song first (Mr. Fox and Mr. Gimbel were her producers and managers) and she said that the lyrics had been based on a poem she had written about attending an emotionally stirring Don McLean concert.”

Happy Days – Pratt & McClain, #5 in 1976, the theme song to a popular TV show

Laverne & Shirley Opening Theme Song

Wonder Woman TV theme (1975)

Ready to Take a Chance Again – Barry Manilow, #11 in 1978. Oscar-nominated song from the 1978 movie Foul Play

It Goes Like It Goes – Jennifer Warnes . Oscar-winning song from the 1979 movie Norma Rae, music by David Shire

The Paper Chase 1979 CBS Episode Preview & Opening Credit, performed by Seals & Crofts

Killing Me Softly With His Song – the Fugees, #2 for three weeks pop, #1 for five weeks soul in 1996

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