Robert Sherman, Songwriter for MARY POPPINS, JUNGLE BOOK & Other Disney Classics Dies at 86


Disney songwriter Robert B. Sherman died yesterday, March 5, in London. The Academy and Grammy Award winner, who is honoured along with his brother Richard Sherman with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was 86.

As reported on, Sherman's son Jeff posted on Facebook on late Monday night: "He went peacefully after months of truly valiantly fending off death. [...] Forever his songs and his genius will bring hope, joy and love to this small, small world."

"It's a Small World" is one of the many Disney songs that Sherman will be remembered for.

Robert B. Sherman was born in the late 1920’s in New York City. Following the musical career of his father, Al Sherman, the family moved to Beverly Hills, California, in 1937. A graduate of Beverly Hills High School and Bard College in New York, Robert and his brother, Richard collaborated on many projects. The brothers’ first musical collaboration took place in 1950, and during that decade they wrote hit rock songs including Kitty Wells’ “Things I Might Have Been,” Johnny Burnette’s “You’re Sixteen,” and ex-Mouseketeer Annett Funicello’s “Tall Paul.” The latter garnered the attention of Walt Disney, who invited both Robert and Richard to be the exclusive staff writers for the Disney studios.

During the next decade they composed over 150 songs that were featured in 27 films and two dozen television productions. Theme songs like “The Wonderful World Of Color,” “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room,” “Winnie The Pooh,” “A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” and “It’s A Small World” are recognized as Disney standards, along with “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and “Feed The Birds” (Walt Disney’s personal favorite.)

In 1965, The Sherman Brothers won Oscars® for their MARY POPPINS score and the song “Chim-Chim-Cher-ee.” Other Disney film scores include THE PARENT TRAP (1961, which included Hayley Mills’ chart-topping “Let’s Get Together”), SUMMER MAGIC (1963), THE JUNGLE BOOK (1966), THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE (1967), THE ARISTOCATS (1970), BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS (1971), THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH (1977) and THE TIGGER MOVIE (2003).

Additionally, they have composed witty and melodious song scores for such films as SNOOPY COME HOME, CHARLOTTE’S WEB and CHITTY BANG BANG, which has recently been adapted to the stage. They also wrote scores for the stage musicals VICTORY CANTEEN (1971), 1974’s Broadway hit OVER HERE! (starring the Andrews Sisters) and BUSKER ALLEY (1995). The Sherman Brothers wrote screenplays and song scores for Tom Sawyer (their music won first prize at the Moscow film Festival), HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE (Royal Film Performance of 1976) and THE MAGIC OF LASSIE, from which “When You’re Loved” earned an Academy Award® nomination for Best Song.

To date, The Sherman Brothers have earned 2 Academy Awards®, 9 Academy Award® nominations, 2 GRAMMY® Awards, 4 GRAMMY® nominations, 23 gold and platinum albums, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1990, the brothers were named “Disney Legends” by The Walt Disney Company, an honor they prize. Their autobiographical coffee-table scrapbook WALT’S TIME: FROM BEFORE TO BEYOND was published in 1999.

MARY POPPINS produced by Cameron Mackintosh and Disney Theatrical Productions, became a hit stage musical in 2004.

"Along with his brother Richard, Robert Sherman is completely responsible for teaching me the power of song," said composer Marc Shaiman on Facebook. "I learned everything I will ever need to know from listening to my Mary Poppins soundtrack album as a child, both as a songwriter and as a caring human being. His songs make me feel I lost a family member today."

"Today we have lost one half of a team whose influence upon our world has touched more people and reached further than any celebrity, businessman, politician or leader could ever hope to reach. My thoughts today are with Bob's family and of course with Richard who has lost the brother and collaborator he loved so much," said producer Andrew Bryan, who is currently working in a new production of the Will Holt/Sherman Bros. musical OVER HERE! which will begin it's life in California at the end of this year.

You can read the full Facebook post by Jeff Sherman here on

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