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Overview for Richard M. Sherman
Richard M. Sherman

Richard M. Sherman



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Also Known As: Richard Morton Sherman,Dick Sherman,Richard Sherman Died:
Born: June 12, 1928 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: Music ... lyricist composer screenwriter


Together with his older brother, Robert, songwriter Richard M. Sherman was credited with penning some of the most beloved family-friendly tunes of all time, including the most played song ever, "It's a Small World (After All)." Born Richard Morton Sherman on June 12, 1928 in New York City, he was the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants Rosa and Al Sherman, a successful Tin Pan Alley songwriter. The family eventually relocated to Los Angeles, where Richard later performed with future composer André Previn at his high school graduation. After completing his college studies, Sherman and his older brother, who had just returned from serving in World War II, began what would be a long and fruitful career as a songwriting team. This was interrupted, however, when the younger Sherman was drafted into the military during the Korean War in 1953. The brothers resumed the partnership upon his return and soon after wrote the song "Tall Paul," which became a hit record for Annette Funicello in 1958. Shortly thereafter, the Sherman brothers began their more than 10-year association with Walt Disney, creating memorable scores for dozens of the company's films. While their first efforts were included in such family features as "The Absent-Minded Professor" (1961) and "The Parent Trap" (1961), the brothers did not truly come into their own until "The Sword and the Stone" (1963), an animated telling of the Arthurian legend. The following year, they enjoyed their greatest success with the lively and infectious score to "Mary Poppins" (1964), for which they shared Oscars for Best Score and Best Song ("Chim Chim Cheree"). Drawing on English music hall traditions, the Shermans composed several hummable melodies, among them, the tongue-twisting classic, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."

The Shermans remained at Disney for the remainder of the decade, contributing songs to "That Darn Cat!" (1965), "The Jungle Book" (1967) and "The Aristocats" (1970). A rare non-Disney song, the title tune for United Artists' "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (1968) earned them an Academy Award nomination. By the time, "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" (1971) was released, the siblings had severed their ties to Disney, though the film did earn them Oscar nominations for Best Song Score and Best Song ("The Age of Not Believing"). They renewed their affiliation with United Artists, scripting and scoring adaptations of "Tom Sawyer" (1973) and "Huckleberry Finn" (1974). Also in 1974, the Sherman brothers debuted as Broadway composers with an Andrews Sisters musical called "Over Here!" They were again nominated for Academy Awards for the lilting score and the title song from "The Slipper and the Rose" (1976). Two years later, Sherman and his brother were again among the nominees for "When You're Loved" from "The Magic of Lassie" (1978). In the years that followed, Sherman and his sibling also collaborated on songs for such animated projects as "Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland" (1990) and "The Tigger Movie" (2000). Even after the older Sherman moved to the U.K. in 2002, the irrepressible brothers continued to collaborate. When "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" became a musical on Broadway in 2005, Richard and Robert contributed a handful of new songs. In 2008, the Sherman brothers were awarded the National Medal of Arts by President George W. Bush. The following year, they were the subject of the documentary "The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story" (2009), a fond remembrance of their remarkable careers. It was a partnership that would endure right up until the passing of older brother Robert in March 2012.

By Bryce Coleman

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