George F. Tibbles, a pianist, composer and writer who developed screenplays, wrote television scripts and crafted stage dramas, but who probably will be best remembered as the man who gave Woody Woodpecker a song to sing, has died. He was 73 when he died Saturday at Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Desert.
Tibbles studied at Los Angeles City College and was playing in such local nightclubs as Ciro's and the Mocambo when he began writing songs after World War II.
Walter Lantz, who created the ill-tempered cartoon woodpecker in 1941, remembered that Tibbles and his writing partner, Ramez Idriss, had called him one night with a song patterned after Woody's diabolical "hah-hah-hah-hah-hah" laugh.
The song, recorded by Kay Kyser, rose to the top of radio's Hit Parade where a young baritone named Frank Sinatra was forced to sing it for several weeks.
"It was not one of his (Sinatra's) favorites," Lantz said, but it did bring Tibbles a 1948 Academy Award nomination for best song.
Later Tibbles turned to more straightforward writing and did the scripts for the entire 12 seasons of "My Three Sons" on television, as well as writing for "Leave It to Beaver," the "Betty White Show" and "One Day at a Time."
Tibbles, who continued to receive thousands of dollars in royalties each year from the Woody song alone, is survived by his wife, Mildred, a son, three daughters, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.