- Aug 25, 2001
- Reaction score
Just shows how a little white lie can spiral out of control.Itsy Bitsy writer 'death' error
A man who co-wrote the song Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini was wrongly reported as dead after the death of a man who claimed authorship.
The widow of Paul Van Valkenburgh, of Ormond Beach, Florida, said he claimed to have written the song as Paul Vance.
Rose Leroux said she had had no reason to doubt her late husband's claim to fame and was "devastated".
The real Paul Vance, of Coral Springs, Florida, said the phones "don't stop with people calling thinking I'm dead".
BBC News was among the organisations that reported the writer's death after the Associated Press ran the story.
The songwriter, who now owns race horses, said two of his horses were withdrawn from races on Wednesday because people thought he had died.
"Do you know what it's like to have grandchildren calling you and say, 'Grandpa, you're still alive?'" said 76-year-old Vance.
"This is not a game. I am who I am and I'm proud of who I am."
Vance co-wrote the hit track with Lee Pockriss. It was recorded by teenage singer Brian Hyland and topped the US Billboard chart in 1960.
It has since been featured in adverts and film soundtracks including Sister Act 2 and Revenge of the Nerds II.
"It's a money machine," said Vance, who provided proof of ongoing royalty payments.
Mrs Leroux said her late husband, who was 68 when he died, had always told her he sold the royalties to the song in his late teens.
He was working as a salesman when they met almost 40 years ago, and later became a painting contractor, she said.
"It's such a long time ago. To have it come out now, I'm kind of devastated," said Mrs Leroux.
Vance also wrote Catch a Falling Star for Perry Como, and various hits for artists including Johnny Mathis.