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How Jeffrey Sherman's Vaccine Story Inspired 'A Spoonful of Sugar'

Jeffrey Sherman, son of lyricist Robert Sherman, revealed that it was his experience being vaccinated that inspired the hook to a Mary Poppins classic.

How Jeffrey Sherman's Vaccine Story Inspired 'A Spoonful of Sugar'

In a new interview, Jeffrey Sherman, son of famed lyricist Robert Sherman, revealed that it was his experience being vaccinated for polio that inspired the hook to the classic tune 'A Spoonful of Sugar' from Mary Poppins.

Sherman explained that during the creation of the film, Robert and his brother and writing partner, Richard Sherman, found themselves stuck in a bout of writer's block that left them in a deep depression.

One afternoon, five-year old Jeffrey had just returned from school when his father asked him about his experience receiving the polio vaccination.

Sherman says, "He goes, 'You let someone give you a shot at school? Did it hurt?' And I said, 'No, no, no. They took out this little cup and put a sugar cube in it and then dropped the medicine and you just ate it. And my dad looked at me and started shaking his head."

Robert quickly got in touch with Richard to begin work on a new song idea. The next day, the two penned the classic lyrics, "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down."

According to Sherman, his father later thanked him for the song.

Hear his full segment here:

Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman are the minds behind the music that has brought joy to families for over 50 years. Their collaboration is one of the most prolific and honored musical partnerships in history, encompassing 50 motion pictures and resulting in a catalog of more than a thousand songs for television, records, theme parks and stage.

The sons of renowned songwriter Al Sherman, they bridged the gap between Tin Pan Alley and Top-Ten, reflecting the benchmarks of the music of their lifetime as they went, from their first hit song, "Tall Paul," to their recent Broadway successes, "Mary Poppins" and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."

As the only songwriters ever to be put under contract by Walt Disney Studios, the Sherman Brothers created a unique sound that became synonymous with the Disney musical. Just some of their numerous film credits include "Mary Poppins," "The Aristocats," "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," "The Jungle Book," "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" and "The Parent Trap," as well as such non-Disney titles as "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "Charlotte's Web," "Tom Sawyer," and "Snoopy Come Home." They also wrote the hit song "You're Sixteen," which twice hit Billboard's Top 10; first in 1960 with Johnny Burnette, then in 1974 with Ringo Starr, when it went all the way to No. 1. Their song "It's a Small World (After All)" debuted at the 1964 World's Fair and is the most translated song on earth.

Among their many honors are two Academy Awards® (plus seven additional Oscar® nominations), the BMI Lifetime Achievement Award, a Grammy® and five Golden Globe® nominations. They are members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In a 2008 ceremony at the White House, the Sherman Brothers were awarded the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor the United States government bestows on artists.


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