Remembering Robert Sherman Oscar-Winning Composer

Remembering Robert Sherman Oscar-Winning ComposerOscar-winning composer Robert Sherman, a true Disney Legend, passed away in London on March 5, 2012. He was 86.

Along with his brother Richard, Sherman composed countless songs for Disney films and theme parks which have become part of the soundtrack of our lives.

The Shermans initially attained popularity writing hit songs for Annette Funicello, including “Tall Paul” and “Pineapple Princess,” and they also notably wrote “You’re Sixteen (You’re Beautiful, and You’re Mine).”

Through the ’60s and ’70s the Shermans worked on numerous Disney films, with their memorable songs including “Let’s Get Together” from The Parent Trap (1961), “Winnie the Pooh” from Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966), “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book (1967), and the Oscar-nominated “The Age of Not Believing” from Bedknobs and Broomsticks(1971).

Most importantly, the Shermans gave the world the Oscar-winning score for Mary Poppins (1964), including “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” “Feed the Birds,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and the Oscar-winning Best Song “Chim-Chim-Cheree.”

Mary Poppins is among my very earliest childhood memories. It was the first film I ever saw in a theater, and in my mind’s eye I can see myself sitting by my little record player, looking at an album cover just like the one at the top of this post, listening to the songs over and over. The opening strains of the overture cause me to tear up, as does the emotional finale, “With tuppence for paper and string, you can have your own set of wings…” My favorite song is the haunting “Chim-Chim-Cheree” (“When you’re with a sweep, you’re in glad company!”). What incredibly special memories the Shermans gave us.

The Shermans are pictured here with Mary Poppins stars Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke; Richard is on the left and Robert on the right. It’s rather remarkable, given the film’s impact on my life, that in recent years I’ve seen three of the four people in this photo in person — everyone, in fact, but Robert. I saw Julie Andrews on April 8, 2008, Dick Van Dyke on October 2, 2011, and Richard Sherman on September 24, 2010, as well as September 9, 2011.

Dick Van Dyke was recently quoted as saying “As songwriters, they were a perfect combination. The emotion was Robert and the fun was Dick’s part. They were made by God for Walt Disney. They somehow managed to convey Walt’s meaning in those songs.”

The Sherman Brothers’ most famous Disney theme park song was “It’s a Small World,” first written for a Disney-built ride at the 1964 New York World’s Fair’s Pepsi-Cola exhibit. They also wrote the theme for the Enchanted Tiki Room (“In the tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki room…”), “Miracles From Molecules” in the fondly recalled Adventures in Inner Space, and “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” for the Carousel of Progress.

Laura G. is a proofreader and homeschooling parent who is a lifelong film enthusiast.  Laura’s thoughts on classic films, Disney, and other topics can be found at Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings, established in 2005. 

  • wayne

    Mary Poppins has close to the top score of songs in all of musical history! Its right up there with the best of Rodgers & Hammerstein, thanks to the Sherman Brothers and Disneys backing…once Andrew Lloyd Webber stops writing for the stage and screen, as he well may now have, we may never see the likes of such tune-filled song writing again. The Golden Age lives when we listen. :)

  • Tim

    Thanks for the article, Laura! All those were great songs. They did soooooo many great songs, really too many to list here. My personal fav is “I want to be like you” from JUNGLE BOOK though. Really sad when seeing documentaries about the brothers and their fallout with each other in later years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002163102666 Susan Peran

    When I remember sngs that stay in my head with pleasure, they are often Sherman songs. The image of Jane Darwell sitting on those steps as she sold bird seed, Julie Andrews voice is such a fitting goodbye to her fim life. That song,”Tuppins a Bag” is both soothing and heartbreaking in my memory. And Dick Van Dyke singing and dancing with Miss Julie to Sherwood music are wonderful images that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Thank you to Mr.Sherman isn’t enough, but on behalf of myself, my children and my grandchildren, here is my thanks, and our very best wishes for the next part of Mr. Sherman’s journey.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000090994945 Steven McCauley

    I loved “The Boys”–this wonderful recent documentary on the Sherman brothers:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1015971/

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713983697 Gordon Jackson

    I did a Sherman’s tribute on the “Soundtrack” radio show on Saturday. If interested, it is archived at: cfmu.ca – Saturday – Soundtrack – 8:00-10:00.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DanLister Daniel Lister

    The article doesn’t mention that the Shermans wrote the songs for the most notable NON-Disney kids’ film of the time:

    “Oh…you…pretty Chitty Bang Bang!
    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, we love you!
    And…in…pretty Chitty Bang Bang,
    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, what we’ll do!”

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