November 21, 2011 by Amy Gold
Songwriter and composer Lee Pockriss (Jan. 20, 1924 - Nov. 14, 2011) died at age 87 at his home in Bridgewater, CT on Monday, November 14, 2011. Pockriss is survived by his wife Sonja.
Lee Pockriss is well known for penning many famous pop tunes, his best known being the smash hit, "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini." This song, which he co-wrote with lyricist Paul Vance, was recorded by teen idol Brian Hyland and it topped the charts in 1960. This novelty tune also reached the Top 10 in the UK and other countries. Other songs by Lee Pockriss, co-written with Vance and other lyricists, include Perry Como's chart-topping "Catch a Falling Star" (1957), Paul Evans' "Seven Little Girls Sitting in the Back Seat" (1959), Anita Bryant's "In My Little Corner Of The World" (1960), Shelley Fabares' chart-topping "Johnny Angel" (1962), the Detergents' "Leader Of The Laundromat" (1964), the Cuff Links' "Tracy" (1969), and Clint Holmes' "Playground In My Mind" (1973).
He was born Lee Julian Pockriss in Brooklyn on January, 20, 1924. He began his studies at Brooklyn College which were interrupted by World War II where he served as a cryptographer for the US Air Force. Upon his return, he resumed his studies at Brooklyn College, majoring in music and English. He later attended graduate school at New York University and studied musicology with composer Stefan Wolpe.
Over the years, Pockriss worked extensively in musical theater and wrote music for movies, TV, and Broadway. He began in the 1950s composing music for "The United States Steel Hour" and other TV shows. With lyricist Anne Croswell, he wrote the songs for the Grammy-nominated 1963 Broadway musical, "Tovarich," starring Vivien Leigh, for which she won the Tony Award for Best Actress. Pockriss and Croswell also co-wrote "Ernest in Love" based on Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest." Pockriss composed music for many films, including "Stagecoach" (1966), "The Subject Was Roses" (1968), and "The Phantom Tollbooth" (1970). In the 1980s, he wrote songs for the children's educational TV series, "Sesame Street."