Norman Gimbel Dies: Grammy And Oscar Winning Songwriter For Film, TV Was 91

Songwriter Norman Gimbel,  whose works won him an Oscar, Grammy and admission to the Songwriters Hall of Fame, has died. He passed on Dec. 19 at his home in Montecito, Calif. at age 91, according to a tribute posted by BMI.
Gimbel’s lyrics to Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly and Jim Croce’s I Got A Name were just some of the highlights of a catalog that reads like a compilation of 20th century hits. His lyrics graced the English language version of The Girl from Ipanema and the TV themes to Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley; he earned an Academy Award with David Shire for Jennifer Warnes’s It Goes Like It Goes; he was the Best Original Song winner for 1979’s Sally Field starrer Norma Rae; and shared the Grammy Song of the Year with longtime writing collaborator Charles Fox in 1973 for Killing Me Softly.Gimbel and Fox wrote more than 150 songs together, including the Oscar-nominated Richard’s Window (from 1975’s The Other Side of the Mountain) and Ready to Take a Chance Again (from 1978’s Foul Play).

Their TV themes also included The Paper Chase, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and Wonder Woman.

Gimbel was born in Brooklyn, NY on Nov. 16, 1927. His career started in music publishing, working for David Blum and Edwin H. Morris on Teresa Brewer’s hit Ricochet Romance and Andy Williams’s 1956 hit, Canadian Sunset.

Broadway also beckoned, and he collaborated with Broadway composer Morris “Moose” Charlap on the musicals Whoop-Up in 1958 and The Conquering Hero in 1961. also working with Frank Loesser, who wrote the now-vilified song Baby It’s Cold Outside.

Hollywood was next. Gimbel arrived in 1967 and immersed himself in the film and TV music world, working with composers Lalo Shifrin, Elmer Bernstein, Bill Conti, Quincy Jones, Burt Bachrach and eventually Nelly Gimbel, his daughter.

His songs graced such films as The Phantom Tollbooth (1970), Where’s Poppa? (1970), A Troll in Central Park (1994) and Lady and the Tramp 2: Scamp’s Adventure (2001).

Survivors include sons Peter and Tony, the latter who ran his publishing company, and daughters Nelly and Hannah. No memorial details have been announced.

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