Paul Vance, writer of “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” has died, his daughter Paula Vance revealed via Facebook. According to his daughter’s post, Vance — born Joseph Paul Florio on Nov. 4, 1929 — died on May 30 at 92. A cause of death was not revealed.
“As I sit here to write a tribute to my Dad Paul Vance, Legend, famous songwriter, author, and owner and lover of his many winning race horses, I do so with a heavy heart because to me he was just my Dad…Last night at 7 pm on Memorial Day, my dad passed away in my arms,” Paula wrote. “I sat by his side for hours playing beautiful music, mostly his of course, and he took his last breath while listening to my brother Philip’s voice singing ‘My name is Michael’ from his hit song, “Playground In My Mind.” Only you Dad, only you lol. It’s as if he wrote the way he would take his last breath on earth.”
“Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” which was released in June of 1960 and performed by Brian Hyland, hit the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The song became a staple of Vance’s, adding to an impressive catalogue that already contains hits co-written alongside partner Lee Pockriss, such as Perry Como’s 1958 signature song “Catch a Falling Star.” The tune also earned Vance a Grammy nomination in 1958 — the first year of the awards — for song of the year, while Como’s recording nabbed him a record of the year nod.
Other notable tunes by Vance and Pockriss include Clint Holmes’ 1973 hit “Playground In My Mind,” David Geddes’ 1975 top 5 track “Run Joey Run,” Natalie Cole, and Esther Phillips and Dee Dee Warwick’s cover of “I Haven’t Got Anything Better To Do ” (originally performed by Astrud Gilberto).
He is survived by his children Paula, Joseph, Philip and Connie Vance.
Read Paula’s tribute post to her father, and revisit Hyland’s recording of “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”