Career as a lyricist of film songs and TV themes
In October 1967 Norman Gimbel moved to Los Angeles, where he became active in film and television. Among the Hollywood composers with whom he worked were Elmer Bernstein, Bill Conti, Jack Elliott, Charles Fox, Dave Grusin, Maurice Jarre, Quincy Jones, Fred Karlin, Francis Lai, Peter Matz, Lalo Schifrin, David Shire and Patrick Williams.
Gimbel received four Golden Globes nominations, the first of which was for the song "Circles in the Water," with music by Francis Lai), written for the American distribution of the 1967 French film Live for Life
, while the second honored "Stay" (with composer Ernest Gold), heard in the 1969 film The Secret of Santa Vittoria.
The other two were for the songs "Richard's Window," from 1975's The Other Side of the Mountain,
and "Ready to Take a Chance Again," used in 1978's Foul Play.
Both songs, whose lyrics Gimbel wrote to music that had been composed by Charles Fox, his most frequent collaborator, were also nominated for Oscars.
In 1973 Gimbel experienced another great success when Roberta Flack sang a cover of "Killing Me Softly with His Song". Co-written with Charles Fox, it was originally written for LA bistro singer Lori Lieberman after she shared a poem with them that she had written after seeing Don McLean live in concert. The song won him his second Grammy Award for Song of the Year. The same year his and Fox's "I Got a Name", recorded by Jim Croce
, from the 1973 film The Last American Hero,
was voted "Best Film Song" by the Young New York Film Critics. In 1979 he had his only Emmy nomination for "Outstanding Music Composition for a Series" for The Paper Chase,
which he again shared with Fox. Los Angeles theater work with Fox included a rock/pop version of A Midsummer Night's Dream
for the city's Shakespeare Festival, seen at the Ford Amphitheatre, and The Eleventh
, which played the Sunset Theater. The year 1980 was a banner year at the Oscars for Norman Gimbel with a win for "Original Music Score" and "Best Original Song" ("It Goes Like It Goes"), written with David Shire for the film Norma Rae.
Continuing his working relationship with Charles Fox, Gimbel wrote lyrics for the theme songs of many TV series, including The Bugaloos, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Angie, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Wonder Woman,
the Emmy-winning theme for The Paper Chase,
and the song score for Pufnstuf,
the 1970 film version of the 1969–71 Saturday-morning children's series H.R. Pufnstuf.
In 1984, Gimbel was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and continued to be active in film into 2009. He has written all the songs, including "A World Without Fences" for Disney's 2001 direct-to-video cartoon feature, Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure,
receiving a nomination for the Video Premiere Award, in addition to having provided song scores for The Phantom Tollbooth
(1969), Where's Poppa?
(1970), A Troll in Central Park
(1994) and The Thief and the Cobbler
(a/k/a Arabian Knight
) (1995 U.S. version). Over the years, his songs have been used in over ninety films, with some of the most popular titles, such as "The Girl from Ipanema", heard in 1997's Deconstructing Harry,
2002's Catch Me If You Can,
2005's V for Vendetta
and Mr. & Mrs. Smith
and 2007's The Invasion,
and "Sway" heard in 2004's Shall We Dance?
, 2006's Bella
, 2007's No Reservations
and 2008's Paris.
Additional films which used his songs include 1984's Johnny Dangerously
, (with composer John Morris), 2006's Invincible
("I Got a Name") and Click
("So Nice") and the 2007 French film Roman de Gare,
which featured his English-language lyrics to Gilbert Bécaud's "You'll See." To date, Imdb Filmography credits Norman Gimbel with having over 646 entries of his songs in films and television.
He has been a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences since 1970.