Legendary Disney Songwriter Richard Sherman Dead At 95

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The legendary Disney songwriter Richard M. Sherman has died at 95. Alongside his older brother Robert B. Sherman (who passed away in 2012), the Sherman Brothers composed classic songs like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “A Spoonful Of Sugar” from Mary Poppins, “It’s A Small World (After All),” and many others. Sherman died due to age-related illnesses at Cedars-Sinai in Beverly Hills, as Variety reports.

Richard Sherman was born in 1928 in Manhattan, and his family moved to Southern California when he was a kid. The Sherman brothers began writing songs together after their father, the Tin Pan Alley songwriter Al Sherman, challenged them to try their hand at it. Sherman was drafted into the Army in 1953 and was the musical conductor for the Army Band. Afterward, he studied music at Bard College. By the late ’50s, the brothers had turned into hitmakers. Their first top 10 song was 1959’s “Tall Paul,” recorded by the Mouseketeer Annette Funicello and attributed to Annette And The Afterbeats. That success continued with “You’re 16 (You’re Beautiful And You’re Mine)” in 1960, which was recorded by Johnny Burnette and also reached the top 10. (That song would hit #1 when it was covered by Ringo Starr in 1974.)

The Sherman brothers’ first official work for Walt Disney and the studio behind him was “Let’s Get Together,” sung by Hayley Mills in 1961’s The Parent Trap. They were soon contracted as in-house songwriters for the company, and over the next decade they wrote songs for Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, The Sword And The Stone, Winnie The Pooh And The Blustery Day, and many more.

After Walt Disney’s death in 1966, they continued working with the studio but also branched out to provide songs for other films and musicals. They wrote songs for the musical film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and they did the score for the Broadway hit Over Here!, which opened in 1974.

They continued working throughout the ensuing decades, and contributed new songs to Broadway productions of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins in the 2000s. In 2009, they were the subject of a documentary called The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story, which was released through Walt Disney Pictures. During their long career, the Sherman brothers were nominated for nine Oscar Awards and won two of them, both in 1964 for their work on Mary Poppins.

“Richard Sherman was the embodiment of what it means to be a Disney Legend, creating along with his brother Robert the beloved classics that have become a cherished part of the soundtrack of our lives,” Bob Iger, the current CEO of the Walt Disney Company, said in a statement announcing Sherman’s death. “From films like Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book to attractions like It’s A Small World, the music of the Sherman Brothers has captured the hearts of generations of audiences. We are forever grateful for the mark Richard left on the world, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family.”