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Robert Sherman, Prolific Songwriter for Disney, Dies at 86

It's A World of Laughter A World of Tears


Robert Sherman, one of the most accomplished songwriters for the Disney brand, has passed away at the age of 86. Chances are, you have heard several of his many, many famous songs, including the one that inspired the category we used for this post, “It’s a Small World,” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” His son posted the announcement on Facebook earlier this week, and he is survived by friends, family, and his huge legacy.

Along with his brother, Richard, Sherman was responsible for so many songs that now instantly evoke a classic era of Disney — Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, The Parent Trap, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and the song written for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, “It’s a Small World,” which became that inescapable song you hear in both od Disney’s American theme parks. The Sherman Brothers also worked on non-Disney films, including Charlotte’s Web, Snoopy, Come Home, and the Tony-nominated Broadway musical Over Here! Their work for Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang were also adapted for the stage in New York and London. And as recently as 2000, the Sherman Brothers were responsible for the Annie Award-winning score for The Tigger Movie, a score that had actually convinced Michael Eisner to release the movie in theaters and not just on video and DVD.

Both brothers were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 and boast two Academy Awards for their work on Mary Poppins — Best Original Song (“Chim Chim Cher-ee”) and Best Original Score. They received nominations for several other movies, including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and The Slipper and the Rose. The brothers also received their star on the Walk of Fame in 1976.

To this day, songs by the Sherman Brothers play throughout the Disney parks and on their most classic rides: “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” on the Carousel of Progress (also from the World’s Fair) and “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room” in the Enchanted Tiki Room, which had always played on that attraction, even when it was going through its “Iago and Zazu” phase. It currently plays an edited version of the original show.

In 2006, Robert Sherman had set up a scholarship in his name along with the BMI Foundation, meant to honor student composers for their achievements in musical comedy writing and lyrics.

Sherman’s son, Jeffrey, posted the announcement of his father’s death on Facebook and wrote the following:

My Dad, Robert B. Sherman, passed away tonight in London. He went peacefully after months of truly valiantly fending off death. He loved life and his dear heart finally slowed to a stop when he could fight no more.

I will write more about this incredible man I love and admire so much when I am better rested and composed. He deserves that.

In the meantime, please say a prayer for him. As he said, he wanted to bring happiness to the world and, unquestionably, he succeeded. His love and his prayers, his philosophy and his poetry will live on forever. Forever his songs and his genius will bring hope, joy and love to this small, small world.

No further details were provided about his death or impending memorial plans. But one thing we can say today, while we mourn Sherman’s passing is this: “Oh, that’s how you spell ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’!” And that should make everyone’s day just a little bit brighter. Thank you, Robert Sherman!

(via The Hollywood Reporter, additional information taken from Wikipedia, BMI Foundation)

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