Richard Sherman, who supplied the songs and musical magic for Walt Disney, dies at 95

Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES — To Walt Disney, who personally invited Richard and Robert Sherman to become full-time staff songwriters at his Burbank studio in 1960, they were the “boys.”

The Sherman brothers were the ideal match for Disney’s family-film factory, where they built a career creating what Richard Sherman once described as “upbeat, spirited, happy songs that make people feel good.”

The songwriting siblings were responsible for the bouncy, tongue-twistingly memorable “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “A Spoonful of Sugar” from the hit 1964 movie musical “Mary Poppins,” for which they won two of the film’s five Oscars—for best score and best song, the haunting “Chim Chim Cher-ee.”

During their years at the studio, the Shermans were as much a part of the early Disney magic as the imagineers, who designed the theme parks and imagined the rides. Together, they wrote dozens of songs for Disney TV productions and movies such as “The Parent Trap,” “The Absent-Minded Professor,” “Summer Magic,” “That Darn Cat!,” “The Sword in the Stone,” “The Jungle Book,” “The Aristocats,” “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” and “Winnie the Pooh” cartoons.

They also penned the theme song for Disney’s TV show “The Wonderful World of Color” and wrote songs heard in Disney theme-park attractions, including “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room,” “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” and the unforgettable — in ways both good and bad —“It’s a Small World (After All).”

“They were made by God for Walt Disney,” said Dick Van Dyke, who stared in “Mary Poppins” opposite Julia Andrew. “They somehow managed to convey Walt’s meaning in those songs.”


The gregarious half of the prolific songwriting duo, Sherman died Saturday, May 25, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills, due to age-related illness. He was 95. The Walt Disney company announced the news of his death in a press statement.

Robert Sherman, who was two-and-a-half years older than his brother, died in London in 2012 at 86.

They were struggling songwriters when they (and Bob Roberts) wrote “Tall Paul,”which became a No. 7 hit in 1959 for Annette Funicello, who the brothers regard as their “Luck Star.”

That led to the Shermans writing a string of other pop songs for the ex-Mousketeer, including the hit “Pineapple Princess.” And that, in turn, led to assignments writing songs for various film and TV productions at the Disney studios.


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