Norman Gimbel, Happy Days theme lyricist, dies at 91

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Norman Gimbel, Happy Days theme lyricist, dies at 91

Norman Gimbel, the Oscar and Grammy-winning lyricist behind “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” “The Girl From Ipanema” and the theme from the iconic sitcom “Happy Days,” has died aged 91.

His death was announced on Friday by BMI, which described him as “a truly gifted and prolific writer” who will be greatly missed by friends and fans at the music rights organization. The Brooklyn native died at his home in Montecito, California, on Dec. 19, his son Tony Gimbel told the Hollywood Reporter.

Gimbel won an Academy Award for Best Original Song alongside co-composer David Shire for Jennifer Warnes’ “It Goes Like It Goes” in the 1979 film “Norma Rae.”

He also wrote Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song” with longtime collaborator Charles Fox, which won a Grammy in 1973. The hit was later covered by the ‘90s hip hop group the Fugees.

“Norman’s lyrics have extraordinary beauty and sensitivity, and understanding of the human condition,” Fox wrote in his biography, “Killing Me Softly: My Life in Music.”

He said the two men collaborated on more than 150 songs over three decades.

“As friends, we helped to dust off many cars over the years as we’d lean against them discussing the work at hand or our lives and families, or chasing the dreams in our work together.”

They also jointly wrote Jim Croce’s “I Got a Name,” released just after the singer died in 1973.

Gimbel’s English lyrics for Brazilian bossa nova hit “The Girl from Ipanema,” which won the 1965 Record of the Year Grammy, made the jazz standard one of the most covered songs of all time.

But it was his work for television where Gimbel was best known, including the catchy theme to “Happy Days” - with its line: “Sunday, Monday, Happy Days! Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days!” - and “Laverne & Shirley’s” joyous “Make All Our Dreams Come True.”

Among his other credits are music for the shows “Wonder Woman” and “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”

In 1984 the lyricist was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.


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