Early life and career
Born in Brooklyn and graduating from Erasmus Hall High School, Pockriss's education at Brooklyn College was interrupted by World War II, where he served as a cryptographer for the US Air Force. Upon his return he studied English and music at Brooklyn College, and later attended graduate school in musicology at New York University.
With Paul Vance he co-wrote Perry Como's Grammy-nominated "Catch a Falling Star", recorded in 1957; Brian Hyland's "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini", recorded in 1960; and The Cuff Links' "Tracy", recorded in 1969. With Hal Hackady he co-wrote Billy Thornhill's "The Key," recorded in 1968 on Wand Records. Again with Hal Hackady, he co-wrote the ballad "Kites"', first recorded by the Rooftop Singers though a subsequent recording by Simon Dupree and the Big Sound charted at number 8 in Britain.
With lyricist Anne Croswell he wrote the songs for the Broadway musical Tovarich starring Vivien Leigh, which received a Grammy nomination for Original Cast Album. Pockriss and Croswell have also collaborated on the frequently produced Ernest in Love (based on The Importance of Being Earnest) and Bodo. Pockriss also wrote the music for the musicals Wonderful Olly, Dolley Madison, and Divorce Of Course, another collaboration with Hal Hackady.
Pockriss wrote seven original songs for MGM's full-length animated film The Phantom Tollbooth, scored the film The Subject Was Roses and wrote the title songs for One, Two, Three and the Western classic, Stagecoach.
In 1969, Pockriss wrote the unproduced musical "Gatsby" based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel. with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh and book by Hugh Wheeler. UnsungMusicalsCo. Inc. presented its world premiere in concert form as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival in September 2011.
In the 1980s, Pockriss wrote several songs for the children's educational series Sesame Street, including "I'm Between" (sung by Tony), "My Polliwog Ways" (sung by Kermit the Frog), "Transylvania Love Call" (Count von Count), and "My Rock" (Bert).
Pockriss died in November 2011 at his home in Connecticut following a long illness.
- Lee Pockriss, Songwriter Behind ‘Itsy Bitsy’ Bikini, Dies at 87 in New York Times. 17 November 2011.
- "Itsy Bitsy Bikini songwriter Lee Pockriss dies". BBC News. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- "Problem Encountered". Musicstack.com. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
- The New York Times. A Musical Version of ‘Gatsby,’ Four Decades Late by Rachel Lee Harris, September 29, 2011.
- The Bob Rogers Show, Radio 2CH, 09:21AEST, 18 November 2011.
- GATSBY: THE SONGS IN CONCERT New York Musical Theatre Festival. Retrieved 18 November 2011.