A Disney Legend Has Passed Away

The Walt Disney Company reported Richard M. Sherman has passed away on Saturday. He was 95 and died from age related illness. 

Richard Sherman worked with his brother Robert to create memorable songs for “Mary Poppins,” “The Jungle Book” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and, “It’s a Small World After All.” The brothers won two Academy Awards for 1964 Epic movie  “Mary Poppins.” They also won a Grammy for best movie score. His brother Robert Sherman died in 2012, at the age of 86.

Robert (left) and Richard in 2002

Generations of moviegoers and theme park guests have been introduced to the world of Disney through the Sherman brothers’ magnificent and timeless songs. Even today, the duo’s work remains the quintessential lyrical voice of Walt Disney,” the company said in a tribute post on it’s website.

Richard M. Sherman, was born on June 12, 1928. Richard Sherman’s early life was steeped in music and creativity. His father, Al Sherman, was a successful songwriter, which influenced Richard and his brother Robert. The Sherman Brothers’ journey into music began after World War II, during which Richard served in the United States Army. When he returned, he attended Bard College, graduating in 1949. His formal education in music and the arts laid a solid foundation for his future work.

The breakthrough for Richard and Robert came in 1958 when they wrote the song “Tall Paul” for Mouseketeer Annette Funicello. The song’s success caught the attention of Walt Disney, who saw great potential in the Shermans’ ability to craft catchy and heartfelt tunes. This marked the beginning of a long relationship with Disney, during which the Sherman Brothers would compose some of the most beloved and enduring songs in the history of film and entertainment.

One of their earliest and most significant contributions to Disney was the soundtrack for “Mary Poppins” (1964). The film was a monumental success, and the Shermans’ songs, including “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” became instant classics. ThTheir collaboration with Disney continued with other iconic films such as “The Jungle Book” (1967), where they penned memorable tunes like “The Bare Necessities” and “I Wan’na Be Like You.”

In addition to their film work, the Sherman Brothers’ influence can be seen in various Disney theme park attractions. “It’s a Small World,” with its repetitive, catchy tune, is perhaps the most famous example, playing continuously in the ride at Disney parks worldwide. Other attractions, such as the Enchanted Tiki Room and the Carousel of Progress, also feature their music,.

When the brothers weren’t collaborating on musical scores, they were both busy raising their families in Beverly Hills, California. Although they were estranged from each other for some years, they did their best to avoid sibling rivalry. 

Richard M. Sherman has received numerous accolades throughout his career, including induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Disney Legends Award. Even after the passing of his brother Robert in 2012, Richard has continued to be active in the music world, often performing and speaking about his work.

Richard Sherman is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children. He also is survived by a daughter from a previous marriage. There will be a private funeral later in the week.