Legendary Songsmith Richard M. Sherman, Mastermind Behind Timeless Disney Classics, Passes Away At 95

Richard M. Sherman, Iconic ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘It’s a Small World’ Songwriter, Passes Away at 95

By Variety Senior Vice President Tim Gray

On May 25, 2024, at the age of 95, Richard M. Sherman, celebrated songwriter and Academy Award winner, passed away at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills due to age-related complications.

A Legacy of Legendary Songs

Richard M. Sherman, alongside his brother Robert B. Sherman, formed a songwriting duo that left an indelible mark on popular culture. Their songs graced the silver screen and captured the hearts of generations.

Sherman’s artistic journey began in 1958 with the hit song “Tall Paul” for Mouseketeer Annette Funicello. His association with Walt Disney Studios propelled him to new heights, resulting in a succession of beloved tunes for classic Disney films:

* Mary Poppins (1964): “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”
* Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968): “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “The Roses of Success”
* The Jungle Book (1967): “I Wanna Be Like You (The Bare Necessities)”

Beyond Disney Magic

While their Disney legacy stands out, the Sherman brothers also ventured beyond the iconic studio. Their songwriting prowess extended to:

* Victory Canteen (1971): Score for the WWII-era musical
* Over Here! (1974): Score for the Broadway musical starring John Travolta
* Tom Sawyer (1973): Score and screenplay for the Moscow Film Festival award-winning musical
* The Slipper and the Rose (1976): Score and screenplay for the Cinderella musical retelling

Awards and Recognition

The Sherman brothers garnered numerous accolades throughout their careers:

* Academy Awards: Nine nominations and two wins (Best Music Score and Best Original Song for “Chim Chim Cher-ee” in “Mary Poppins”)
* Grammy Awards: Four nominations and two wins
* National Medal of Arts (2008): Awarded by President George W. Bush

Documentary and Legacy

In 2009, Disney released the documentary “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story,” chronicling their remarkable lives and contributions. Their influence continues to inspire, with their songs featured in stage adaptations of “Mary Poppins” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

In a recent interview, Richard Sherman expressed his gratitude for the enduring impact of their music: “The satisfaction is in touching people’s hearts, making them sing, and making them happy.”

Tributes and Condolences

Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, paid tribute to Richard Sherman’s legacy: “Richard Sherman was the epitome of a Disney Legend, creating timeless classics that have become a cherished part of our lives. We extend our deepest condolences to his family.”

Fellow composer Alan Menken added, “Richard Sherman’s music has brought joy to millions worldwide. His songs will continue to inspire future generations of songwriters and entertain audiences for years to come.”

Richard M. Sherman’s passing marks the end of an era, but his legacy will live on through his unforgettable songs and the enduring happiness they bring.