Paul Vance, songwriter who co-wrote the classic Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini, dies at 92
Paul Vance, the songwriter behind a string of hits in the 1950s and ’60s, has died at age 92.
The songwriter was best known for the 1960 hit Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini, which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Hitmaker: Paul Vance, the songwriter behind Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini, died May 30 at a nursing facility in West Palm Beach, Florida, at age 92, according to the Washington Post; seen in 2014 in Delray Beach, Florida
Vance, who regularly co-write with Lee Pockriss — who died in 2011 — churned out a variety of bubblegum pop hits, including Catch A Falling Star, Playground of My Mind and Tracy.
The two worked together at the iconic Brill Building in Manhattan, which served as a home for numerous famous songwriters, including Burt Bacharach, Carol King, Neil Sedaka, Paul Simon and many others.
Vance and Pockriss’ single Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini was written earlier in the 1950s, but it became a hit with Brian Hyland’s 1960 recording, and the song was subsequently rerecorded in several other countries and languages.
Vance was reportedly inspired to write the song after his daughter was too embarrassed to wear a bikini in public, as they were considered rather risqué at the time.
It’s a hit! Vance and his regular co-writer Lee Pockriss had a hit on their song after Brian Hyland’s 1960 recording of Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini went to number one; seen in 2015
In a loving Facebook post announcing his death, Vance’s daughter Paula — the same one who was shy about wearing a bikini as a child — wrote that she was by his side when he died.
She said that she ‘sat by his side for hours playing beautiful music, mostly his Ofcourse [sic].’
Among the tunes played in his final moments was his single Playground In My Mind, which was partly sung on the choruses by his son Philip, along with Clint Holmes.
Philip preceded him in death at age 44 in 2009.
According to his children, Vance’s health had been declining for over a year, though they didn’t specify his cause of death.
Saying goodbye: Vance’s daughter Paula wrote on Facebook that she was by his side. They listened to some of his classic tunes, including Playground In My Mind, which was sung by his late son Philip
Prior to breaking out as a songwriter, Vance made ends meet in the 1950s by running an auto salvage yard in Brooklyn.
But the success of his Pockriss collaboration Catch A Falling Star in 1957 — recorded by Perry Como — gave him the funding and profile necessary to devote himself to songwriting full time.
Vance focused on the lyrics in his collaborations, while Pockriss was in charge of the ear worm melodies.
Starting in the 1960s, Vance took up an interest in horse racing, and he later moved to South Florida to enjoy his retirement in the heat.
His wife Margaret Curte Vance, whom he was married to for more than 60 years, died in 2012.
He is survived by his children Joseph, Paula and Connie, along with a sister, nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Moving on up: Prior to breaking out as a songwriter, Vance made ends meet in the 1950s by running an auto salvage yard in Brooklyn, until the 1957 Perry Como recording of Catch A Falling Star became a success; seen in 2015