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'Mary Poppins,' 'Small World' composer dies at 86

by Ethan Bilby, Reuters

March 6, 2012 | 11:28 am

Robert B. Sherman in 2006.

Robert B. Sherman in 2006.

Disney songwriter Robert Sherman, part of a team with brother Richard responsible for numerous film scores and children’s songs, died in London on Monday aged 86.

He composed the popular tune featured in Disney theme parks, “It’s a Small World (After All),” as well as the score to “Mary Poppins,” featuring songs such as “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

Born in New York City in 1925, Sherman was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. His father, Al Sherman, found employment as a songwriter on Tin Pan Alley, Manhattan’s famous street of music publishers, and later challenged his boys to take up music in their own right.

Along with his brother, he was responsible for music in many well-loved children’s films, including “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Bedknobs and Broomsticks,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “The Aristocats,” “Snoopy Come Home,” “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” and “The Jungle Book”.

He won an Oscar and Grammy award for his work with Mary Poppins, and more recently revived his work for the West End stage, adding new songs to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for a 2002 musical. Mary Poppins followed on as a musical in 2004.

Sherman also had top 10 hits on the Billboard chart with “You’re Sixteen,” performed by Johnny Burnette and later reaching number one with a cover by Ringo Starr in 1974. Other top tens include “Let’s Get Together,” sung by Hayley Mills in “The Parent Trap” and “Pineapple Princess” featuring Disney Mousketeer Annette Funicello.

The Sherman Brothers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and were inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2008, they received the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor conferred upon artists by the United States government.

In a post on his Facebook profile, his son Jeffrey said that his father “wanted to bring happiness to the world and, unquestionably, he succeeded.”

Reporting By Ethan Bilby

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