Gimbel, who wrote the words to Killing Me Softly With His Song and the theme to Happy Days, died in his California home on 19 December, his son Tony told the Hollywood Reporter. His death was announced on Friday by BMI.
In a statement, the music organization said: “The lyricist is most known for his work in the fields of film and television, wherein he wrote the beloved themes to countless series like Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days, The Paper Chase, Wonder Woman, H.R. Puffnstuff and many more.
“Other popular titles of Gimbel’s include such perennial standards as Sway, Canadian Sunset, Summer Samba, The Girl from Ipanema, Killing Me Softly With His Song, Meditation, I Will Wait for You, many of which he wrote with his longtime collaborator, composer Charles Fox.
“Gimbel won a Best Original Song Award at the 1979 Academy Awards for his song It Goes Like It Goes, which he co-wrote with composer Davie Shire for the motion picture Norma Rae.
“A truly gifted and prolific writer, Gimbel will be greatly missed by his friends and fans at BMI.” He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984. One of Gimbel’s co-writers, Robert Folk, wrote: “Norman was an incredible talent; brilliant in every way, and one who had successfully navigated every genre in popular music.
“I remember one of the countless moments with Norman so fondly, when after a playback via phone of a newly finished song for a prominent filmmaker, he said to me privately ‘Don’t ever tell them how easy this work is for us, and how much fun we’ve had writing these songs! Or else they’ll never pay us all this money again!'”
Gimbel was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Austrian Jewish immigrants.
He was self-taught but managed to get himself work as a contract songwriter, first finding success in 1953 with a novelty song called Ricochet.