Robert Sherman died today. If you pay attention to all things Disney, then you know that Robert was the older half of the brotherly song-writing duo, The Sherman Brothers, that penned hundreds of songs for Disney, from ‘It’s a Small World After All,’ to ‘Feed The Birds,’ from Mary Poppins. Richard was the younger brother: Robert the older. Their story is the stuff of legend.
Robert spent a great deal of time serving in World War II, where he witnessed firsthand the horror of seeing the Nazi Extermination Camps. These were images that would haunt him for the rest of his life – as would an injured leg. He returned from the war to find his younger brother, Richard, making the decision to pursue a career in music. It was a turning point in both their lives. Richard was a young, bubbly man with an optimistic outlook on life. Robert was slightly depressed and was constantly haunted by the horrors he had seen in the Second World War. It was this contrast that became the duo known as the Sherman Brothers. Richard talked Robert into coming with him to Hollywood – they would write songs together.
They first wrote a song for Annette Funicello – and the rest is history. They wrote songs for Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh, Summer Magic, The Parent Trap, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Happiest Millionaire, The Tigger Movie, The Mickey Mouse Club, Flubber, That Darn Cat, The Aristocats, and dozens of smaller songs for Disney Sing-Along collections and Disney Attractions like ‘The Tiki Room,’ “It’s a Small World,’ and the theme for the popular television series, “The Wonderful World of Color.”
Theirs is a legacy that has spanned over half a century. Their songs are timeless. Why? Because they wrote real music. Music that was sweet, and catchy and wonderfully real. Their contrasting personalities blended together to create tunes that have become the most well known songs in the entire world.
Robert Sherman was one of the brilliant halves of the duo known as the Sherman Brothers. The talent that he had coincided with this brother’s – even when they did not always agree. Regardless, he left behind an indelible mark in the world:
The gift of music - songs enjoyed by both young and old.
(For those wondering, Robert Sherman is the one standing by the piano in both pictures, and he sitting next to Dick Van Dyke in the Mary Poppins Picture)