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Headlinesn > Entertainment > Richard M Sherman: Songwriter behind Disney films including Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has died
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Richard M Sherman: Songwriter behind Disney films including Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has died

A songwriter who created the soundtracks of some of Disney’s best-known films – including Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – has died.

Richard M Sherman, one half of the award-winning pair of brothers who wrote more than 150 songs for Disney, died aged 95 on Saturday due to an age-related illness.

Sherman and his brother Robert won two Academy Awards for the 1964 hit Mary Poppins – best score and best song for Chim Chim Cher-ee.

Richard M Sherman, right, and his brother Robert with their Oscars, alongside actress Debbie Reynolds in 1965. Pic: AP

They also picked up a Grammy for best movie or TV score. Robert Sherman died in London in 2012 aged 86.

Their hundreds of credits as joint lyricist and composer include the films Winnie the Pooh, The Slipper And The Rose, Snoopy Come Home, Charlotte’s Web and The Magic of Lassie.

The Shermans also wrote the soundtracks for such films as The Sword And The Stone, The Parent Trap, Bedknobs And Broomsticks, The Jungle Book, The Aristocrats and The Tigger Movie.

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It’s A Small World – which accompanies visitors to Disney theme parks’ boat ride – was also written by the brothers and is believed to be the most played song in the world.

They also had success on Broadway and the pop charts – their musicals included 1974’s Over Here! and stagings of Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the mid-2000s.

The Shermans wrote songs like Tall Paul for ex-Mouseketeer Annette Funicello and You’re Sixteen, later recorded by Ringo Starr, before their decades-long partnership with Disney started in the 1960s.

Disney said in a statement: “Generations of moviegoers and theme park guests have been introduced to the world of Disney through the Sherman brothers’ magnificent and timeless songs.

“Even today, the duo’s work remains the quintessential lyrical voice of Walt Disney.”

Dick Van Dyke, Julie Andrews, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber

Dick Van Dyke, Julie Andrews, Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber in the 1964 film Mary Poppins. Pic: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock

The Shermans’ other awards include 23 gold and platinum albums and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The pair became the only Americans ever to win first prize at the Moscow Film Festival for Tom Sawyer in 1973 and were inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2005.

President George W Bush awarded them the National Medal of Arts in 2008, commended for music that “has helped bring joy to millions”.

FILE - Mickey Mouse, from left, Elizabeth Gluck, Richard M. Sherman and Minnie Mouse pose for a photo at the ceremony honoring the Sherman Brothers with the rename of Disney Studios Soundstage A at the world premiere of Disney's "Christopher Robin" at the Walt Disney Studios, July 30, 2018, in Burbank, Calif. Sherman, one half of the prolific, award-winning pair of brothers who helped form millions of childhoods by penning classic Disney tunes, died Saturday, May 25, 2024. He was 95.  (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)
Richard M Sherman with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in 2018. Pic: AP

Richard Sherman said of his musical partnership with Robert in 2005: “Something good happens when we sit down together and work.

“We’ve been doing it all our lives. Practically since college we’ve been working together.”

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During that interview with the Associated Press, Mr Sherman also revealed the advice Walt Disney gave to them when they first started out.

“He once told us, early on in our career, ‘don’t insult the kid – don’t write down to the kid. And don’t write just for the adult’. So we write for grandpa and the four-year-old – and everyone in between – and all see it on a different level.”

Richard Sherman is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children Gregory and Victoria. He is also survived by a daughter, Lynda, from a previous marriage.

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