Mr. Vance, who had already co-written “Catch a Falling Star,” a Grammy-winning hit single for Perry Como, was all the time alert for brand spanking new tune concepts. On the best way dwelling from the seaside, he jotted down the primary draft of what turned his best-known tune:
It was an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini
That she wore for the primary time immediately
An itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini
So within the locker, she needed to remain
The lyrics mirrored Mr. Vance’s (and his daughter’s) experiences. When she ventured into the surf, Mr. Vance later stated, the underside half of her swimsuit got here off, main him to put in writing, “Now she’s afraid to come back out of the water / And the poor little woman’s turning blue.”
When Mr. Vance acquired dwelling, he referred to as his songwriting accomplice, Lee Pockriss, to inform him about his thought.
“I sang the lyric on the telephone,” Mr. Vance later stated, “and by the point he acquired to my workplace a few hours later, he had 90 % of the tune written.”
The novelty tune was recorded by 16-year-old Brian Hyland and spent 13 weeks on Billboard journal’s High 40 chart, together with one week at No. 1 in 1960. Since then, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” has grow to be a pop-culture staple, steadily showing in movies and TV commercials by way of the a long time. Mr. Vance referred to as it a “cash machine,” which introduced him thousands and thousands of in royalties.
Mr. Vance was 92 when he died on Might 30 at a nursing facility in West Palm Seashore, Fla. His dying was confirmed by two of his kids, Joseph Vance and Paula Vance — the woman within the polka dot bikini. They stated he had been in declining well being for greater than a yr however didn’t specify a trigger.
Mr. Vance had been writing tune lyrics since his early teenagers, however by way of a lot of the 1950s he had an auto wrecking and salvage enterprise in New York as he tried to catch a break as songwriter. By 1966, in keeping with Billboard journal, songs he had written with Pockriss had offered greater than 50 million copies.
“All people is aware of my songs, however they don’t know me,” Mr. Vance instructed the Palm Seashore Put up in 2015. “Being a author is just not like being a performer. I can stroll wherever, with abnormal individuals, they usually don’t know me. When you instructed them the songs I wrote, they’d say ‘Get outta right here!’ I appear to be an everyday truck driver.”
He gave up the vans and junkyards after discovering success with “Catch a Falling Star,” written with Pockriss and recorded in 1957 by Como. The tune has a lilting, nearly childlike high quality:
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
By no means let it fade away
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Reserve it for a wet day
It turned a High 10 hit in the USA and offered greater than 1 million copies, making it the primary single to be designated a gold document by the Recording Trade Affiliation of America. It additionally earned Como a Grammy Award for greatest male vocal efficiency in 1959, the primary yr the Grammys had been introduced.
“Catch a Falling Star” allowed Mr. Vance to grow to be a full-time songwriter, working with Pockriss at New York’s Brill Constructing, then the middle of the songwriting commerce.
“He was a really gifted composer, a terrific composer, the other of me,” Mr. Vance as soon as stated of Pockriss, who died in 2011. “He knew music inside out. I don’t know one be aware of music.”
With varied collaborators, Mr. Vance additionally wrote a number of hit songs for Johnny Mathis, together with “Starbright” and “What Will Mary Say.” He and Pockriss composed the bittersweet ballad “I Haven’t Got Anything Better to Do,” which has been recorded by Astrud Gilberto, Eddie Fisher, Carmen McRae and Natalie Cole, and “Playground in My Mind,” which turned a No. 2 hit for Clint Holmes in 1973. The tune options kids’s voices singing, “My title is Michael. I acquired a nickel, I acquired a nickel, shiny and new.”
Mr. Vance’s final main hit, written with Perry Cone, was “Run Joey Run,” a teen tragedy tune with the intertwined themes of younger love and home abuse, which topped out at No. 5 in 1975 for David Geddes. (Mr. Vance’s kids typically sang background vocals on his songs, and Paula contributed a vocal half to “Run Joey Run.”)
In 1964, Mr. Vance and Pockriss wrote one of many strangest and most comical parodies in pop historical past, “Leader of the Laundromat.” A none-too-subtle knockoff of the Shangri-Las’ “Chief of the Pack,” it was a minor hit for a trio of male studio singers dubbed — what else? — the Detergents.
My people had been all the time placing her down (down, down)
As a result of her laundry got here again brown (brown, brown)
I do not care in the event that they suppose she’s unhealthy
I fell in love ‘trigger she appeared so unhappy
“Chief of the Pack,” a few woman’s crush on a member of a motorbike gang, ends in tragedy, and so does “Chief of the Laundromat”: “She grabbed my laundry and bumped into the road, immediately into the trail of a runaway rubbish truck. I yelled ‘Be careful, be careful, be careful, be careful!’ ”
After the clanging sound of a crash, the Detergents attain the ultimate spin cycle:
I felt so messy standing there (messy standing there)
My daddy’s shorts had been in every single place (daddy’s shorts had been in every single place)
Tenderly I kissed her goodbye
Picked up my garments, they had been lastly dry
Joseph Philip Florio was born Nov. four, 1929, in Brooklyn. His father delivered ice in a horse-drawn wagon, and his mom was a homemaker.
In 2015, he described himself as “a ‘dese, dem, and dose’ man. I wasn’t even a road man. I used to be a gutter man. I used to be presupposed to have grow to be a Mafioso.”
After serving within the Military, he returned to New York and ran his auto salvage enterprise. He finally related with a music publishing firm and have become Paul Vance — “a made-up title,” he stated.
He wrote greater than 300 songs in all, dabbled in singing within the 1960s and produced a couple of recordings by different artists. His songs had been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Shirley Bassey, Julie London and Robert Goulet, amongst others.
In 1964, Mr. Vance took up an curiosity in harness racing and have become a horse proprietor and breeder. He had a farm in Westbury, N.Y., and within the early 1980s owned a champion pacer named Secret Service, which was skilled by his son Joseph. He retired to South Florida.
His spouse of greater than 60 years, Margaret Curte Vance, died in 2012. A son, Philip Vance, died in 2009. Survivors embrace three kids, Joseph Vance of Westbury, N.Y., Paula Vance of Kings Park, N.Y., and Connie Cohen of Plainview, N.Y.; a sister; 9 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.
In 2006, obituaries of Mr. Vance had been printed after the dying of a Florida man named Paul Van Valkenburgh who claimed to have written “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” below the pseudonym of Paul Vance.
“Have you learnt what it’s wish to have grandchildren calling you and say, ‘Grandpa, you’re nonetheless alive?’ ” the actual Mr. Vance stated on the time.
Van Valkenburgh was uncovered as an impostor after Mr. Vance proved his identification by producing his royalty checks.
”Consider me,” he stated, “in the event that they suppose you’re lifeless, they ain’t going to ship the cash.”