The Good Ship Lollipop has just sent out a distress signal.
The granddaughter of the tunesmith who wrote "On the Good Ship Lollipop" and "Hooray for Hollywood," among other musical chestnuts, filed a lawsuit against Warner/Chappell Music on Wednesday, claiming that she's been stiffed on royalties from her grandfather's catalog.
Deborah Bush Gervasi, the granddaughter of deceased tunesmith Richard A. Whiting, says that Warner/Chappell has shown a "willful, intentional, and/or grossly negligent failure" to pay proper royalties on her grandfather's songs. According to Gervasi, she discovered that Warner/Chappell was paying a lower royalty rate than its publishing agreement called for in 2007, and the company has been stonewalling ever since.
Gervasi's complaint says that, per a 1943 renewal agreement (the songwriter died in 1938), Whiting's wife was to receive 50 percent of all receipts on Whiting's songs. However, in 2007, Gervasi said she discovered paperwork indicating that Warner/Chappell had been paying a lesser royalty rate. Gervasi said that, when she contacted Warner/Chappell, the company claimed that royalties on Whiting's songs were subject to an earlier, 1936 agreement.
Warner has not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment.
Published in 1934, "On the Good Ship Lollipop" went on to become a signature song for child actress Shirley Temple and spawned numerous covers by singers including Tiny Tim. "Hooray for Hollywood," meanwhile, first appeared in the 1937 film "Hollywood Hotel" and has since become a staple.
Gervasi has enlisted the help of the Songwriters Guild of America in an effort to rectify the situation, but so far to no avail.
The suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Nashville, claims malicious breach of contract and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing.
Gervasi is seeking compensatory damages "not less than $250,000," plus punitive damages, attorneys' fees, court costs and interest.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.