Award-winning Disney songwriter Richard Sherman dies aged 95

25 May 2024, 23:54

Obit Richard Sherman
Obit Richard Sherman. Picture: PA

He wrote songs for Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with his brother Robert.

Richard M Sherman, one half of the award-winning pair of brothers who wrote songs for Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has died aged 95.

Sherman, together with his late brother Robert, won two Academy Awards for Walt Disney’s 1964 hit Mary Poppins — best score and best song for Chim Chim Cher-ee.

They also picked up a Grammy for best movie or TV score. Robert Sherman died in London aged 86 in 2012.

The Walt Disney Company announced that Sherman died on Saturday due to age-related illness.

Obit Richard Sherman
Actress Debbie Reynolds poses with Academy Award winners for best music Richard M Sherman, right, and Robert Sherman, left (AP)

“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 on its website.

Their hundreds of credits as joint lyricist and composer include the films Winnie the Pooh, The Slipper And The Rose, Snoopy Come Home, Charlotte’s Web and The Magic of Lassie.

Their Broadway musicals included 1974’s Over Here! and stagings of Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the mid-2000s.

“Something good happens when we sit down together and work,” Richard Sherman told The Associated Press in a 2005 joint interview. “We’ve been doing it all our lives. Practically since college we’ve been working together.”

Their awards include 23 gold and platinum albums and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They became the only Americans ever to win first prize at the Moscow Film Festival for Tom Sawyer in 1973 and were inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2005.

Obit Richard Sherman
Richard M Sherman speaks at a Disney ceremony honouring the Sherman brothers (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

President George W Bush awarded them the National Medal of Arts in 2008, commended for music that “has helped bring joy to millions”.

Most of the songs the Shermans wrote — in addition to being catchy and playful — work on multiple levels for different ages, something they learned from Disney.

“He once told us, early on in our career, ‘don’t insult the kid — don’t write down to the kid. And don’t write just for the adult.’ So we write for grandpa and the four-year-old — and everyone in between — and all see it on a different level,” Richard Sherman said.

The Shermans began a decade-long partnership with Disney during the 1960s after having written hit pop songs like Tall Paul for ex-Mouseketeer Annette Funicello and You’re Sixteen, later recorded by Ringo Starr.

They wrote over 150 songs at Disney, including the soundtracks for such films as The Sword And The Stone, The Parent Trap, Bedknobs And Broomsticks The Jungle Book, The Aristocrats and The Tigger Movie.

It’s A Small World — which accompanies visitors to Disney theme parks’ boat ride sung by animatronic dolls representing world cultures — is believed to be the most performed composition in the world. It was debuted at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair pavilion ride.

Richard Sherman is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children Gregory and Victoria. He is also survived by a daughter, Lynda, from a previous marriage.

A private funeral will be held on Friday. Disney said a celebration of life service will be announced later.

By Press Association

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