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Obit of the Day: Academy Award-Winning Songwriter Robert Sherman

Some of the catchiest tunes in the Disney catalog were written by Robert and Richard Sherman. Beginning with The Absent-Minded Professor in 1961, the Shermans wrote songs for Disney films for the next 16 years. Filmgoers (and more recently DVD watchers) have heard their songs in classics such as Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (not a Disney film), Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Jungle Book, and Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. Outside of the Disney studios, the Shermans wrote the songs for Snoopy Come Home and the original animated version of Charlotte’s Web.

However, the Sherman’s most popular song of all time was written for the Disney exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York: “It’s a Small World (After All)”. Robert Sherman stated, and few have argued, that the song is the most recorded and translated song in history. One of the reasons this is possible is that, upon request of UNICEF, Disney never copyrighted the song.

Robert Sherman, who died in London at the age of 86, was originally a novelist and began writing songs with Richard in 1953. They first came to the attention of Walt Disney when they wrote the song “Tall Paul” to sung by famed Mouseketeer Annette Funicello. As well as writing songs for children’s movies, the Shermans also wrote several top ten pop hits including “You’re Sixteen” which hit #1 on the Billboard charts for Johnny Burnette (1960) and Ringo Starr (1974). The brothers were inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2005.

Random note: In April 1945, near the end of World War II, Robert Sherman’s Army unit became the first Allied soldiers to enter the infamous Dachau concentration camp.

Additional sources: imdb.com, songfacts.com and wikipedia.org

(All poster images are courtesy of impawards.com except for The Jungle Bookwhich is courtesy of disney.wikia.com and Bedknobs and Broomstickswhich is courtesy of traileraddict.com)

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