The world is a little less supercalifragilisticexpialidocious today, now that legendary songwriter Robert Sherman, one-half of acclaimed songwriting duo the Sherman Brothers, has passed away. According to Sherman's agent, the man behind such beloved childhood favorites as "It's a Small World (After All)," "The Bare Necessities," and "A Spoonful of Sugar" passed away in London yesterday evening. He was eighty-six.
Even if you've never heard of Robert Sherman, chances are you've grown up with at least a few of his songs. With brother Richard, Sherman penned some of the most popular Disney standards of all time, amassing a total of twenty-three gold and platinum albums. In 1964, they won a Best Score Oscar for Mary Poppins, as well as a Best Song Oscar for "Chim Chim Cher-ee" and a Grammy for best movie and TV score the same year.
Over the course of their decades-long career, the brothers' relationship was often contentious, as chronicled by a 2009 documentary, The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story (which I highly recommend). Nonetheless, the duo was unbelievably prolific, writing more film scores than any other songwriting team in history. In addition to Mary Poppins, the brothers' credits included Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Jungle Book, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Charlotte's Web. They also wrote the song "Let's Get Together" for The Parent Trap and hit singles for Annette Funnicello and Paul Anka, as well as pretty much any other catchy Disney tune from the late 1950s to mid-1970s that you can think of.
This morning on Facebook, Sherman's son Jeff wrote that his father "wanted to bring happiness to the world, and unquestionably he succeeded." If you, like me, grew up watching Disney movies on VHS (or if you, like me, are physically incapable of listening to "Feed the Birds" without bawling like an infant), it's hard to dispute the veracity of that statement. So here's to you, Robert Sherman. Thanks to you, the world seemed a little bit more like a jolly holiday.