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Robert B. Sherman (1925-2012)

Robert B. Sherman, the elder half of the songwriting duo aka The Sherman Brothers passed away yesterday in London. He was 86.

Robert (above left) with his brother Richard (center) were Walt Disney’s favorite song composers of the 1960s. Some of their classic songs include Chim Chim Cher-ee (the Oscar winner from Mary Poppins), The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room, The Ugly Bug Ball, The Wonderful World of Color, I Wan’na Be Like You, There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, It’s A Small World …and hundreds of others.

Robert and Richard began their songwriting career on a dare from their hit-song writing dad, Al Sherman (You Gotta Be a Football Hero), and sold their first song in 1951 to Gene Autry. Among their early hits were You’re Sixteen (for Johnny Burnette and later Ringo Starr) and Tall Paul (for Annette). After their time at Disney, the duo wrote songs for various animated features including Disney’s The Aristocats, Hanna-Barbera’s Charlottes Web, Snoopy Come Home, Little Nemo, The Mighty Kong, and not to mention the live action Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I’m leaving so many things out. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend the 2009 Sherman Brothers documentary, directed by their sons, The Boys.

They wrote many incedental bits and theme songs – all of them memorable. I’m particularly fond of the title sequences in The Mis-Adventures of Merlin Jones and The Monkey’s Uncle. Since this is an animation blog, we’ll leave you with this one, with cut-out animation by Bill Justice and X. Atencio:

Please share your favorite Sherman Bros. songs in the comments.

  • I fell in love with the Symposium on Popular Songs, “I’m gonna rock, rumble and roar”!

  • Richard

    Aww, so sad to see a legend die.

  • anonymous

    Truly sad news. They made great films truly memorable with their music. Rip

  • Kai

    RIP Bob, you leave a wonderful legacy of hummable songs. My own favorites are “Enjoy it”, as sung by Maurice Chevalier and Hayley Mills in “In Search of the Castaways,”
    and “Fortuosity” sung by Tommy Steele at the beginning of “The Happiest Millionaire” (sorry these had to be picks from live action movies)

  • Fleischer Fan

    My personal favorite Sherman Bros. tune was “Let’s Get Together” written for Hayley Mills in the original “Parent Trap.” The “yeah-yeah-yeah” chorus was ahead of its time (as the Beatles recording careers were still a few years off).

  • Joe Horne

    It’s a three way tie… first….because it’s Ian Fleming.. ChuChi Face from chitty chitty bang bang

    Close second goes to “it changes

    and of course no dogs allowed. both from snoopy come home.

  • Precisely I was searching the Snoopy Come Home soundtrack in spotify the other day but I couldn’t find anything. I’ve always loved this scene:

    All the songs and the music in that movie are really warm and fun.


    • Chris Sobieniak

      I have the LP!

  • Rest in peace, Mr. Sherman. Your songs really made my toes tap.

    • Old Man Father Time

      “I Wanna Be Like You” always puts you in a great mood, ah don’t care who you are!

  • My favorites are Chim Chim Cheree and Small World, but they wrote so many wonderful songs. I wish they could have written more together. RIP.

  • Sad news, indeed. I love all the Sherman Bros music. Favorite songs? Too many to list, but Winnie the Pooh had some great music like little Black Raincloud, and Heffalumps and Woozles. And I loved a song Ludwig Von Drake sang on the first color broadcast of the Disney show. He just runs through a litany of colors (I’m not even sure if the Shermans wrote it, but it sounded like them).

  • so sad to hear this. i watched ‘The Boys’ last year and it was AMAZING to see just how many songs they wrote that are part of my growing up!

    I will always love ‘Its a small World’ No matter what anyone says.

  • Mike

    So sad to hear! I think “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” from the Disney Carousel of Progress will always be my sentimental favorite..

  • Tim Hodge

    “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book.

  • Update: It’s the Spectrum Song and it is by The Sherman Brothers.

  • peter campofiori

    To quote Bob Hope “thanks for the memories”. RIP Mr. Sherman
    …and listen to Jerry “If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend the 2009 Sherman Brothers documentary, directed by their sons, The Boys”. What a fascinating Documentary of the Sherman brothers.

  • Mitch Keeler

    Too many favorite songs to mention. Will have to put the Sherman Brothers song book on loop today.

    If I have to narrow down to one, it’s “Feed the Birds”. There’s a reason it was Walt’s favorite.

    • Mitch, you and Walt have great taste, it’s my favorite too.
      There’s some great audio commentary by the Sherman Bros. on a Mary Poppins soundtrack I have on CD. Goes at great length into Feed the Birds and working with Jane Darwell. Fantastic stuff.

  • Scarabim

    The Sherman brothers were a great team. Their songs will live forever. The ideas behind their tunes were strong, the lyrics simple, the melodies unforgettable. Rest in peace, Robert.

  • Mike Johnson

    The Sherman brother’s music was the soundtrack of my childhood. Pretty much my adulthood too. I simply cannot pick a favorite…can I just say “Their entire catalog?” I think just about every song they wrote injects a feeling of happiness into my body…except for songs like “Feed the Birds” which can just rip the tears from my eyes like nothing else. Richard and Robert were Walt Disney’s greatest gift to the world, other than himself. I am glad we still have Robert, but Richard will be terribly missed by anyone who loves great music. A truly sad day today for all of us.

  • Justin

    The Sherman brothers’ music was a HUGE part of my childhood. They’re still a huge part of my life. They knew how to make songs memorable and catchy. I LOVE their music, especially from “The Jungle Book,” “Mary Poppins,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” and “Charlotte’s Web.” I think my all-time favorite songs that they wrote would have to be “I Wanna Be Like You from The Jungle Book, “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tommorrow,” “We’ve Got Lots in Common” from Charlotte’s Web, “Pineapple Princess,” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I have the documentary and their autobiography “Walt’s Time,” and they’re awesome. It’s shocking and very sad that Robert has died. Him and his brother’s music will live on forever.

  • dbenson

    Also worth noting they were very heavily involved in the earliest planning and writing of “Mary Poppins”, well beyond plugging songs into a script. Disney evidently recognized they had some story sense.

  • Matt

    If I had to pick a favorite Sherman brother song…it would have be the one that made Walt Disney cry: Feed the Birds.

    This is so sad. I was just thinking yesterday how tragic–and stupid–it was that Disney did not hire the brothers to write new songs for last year’s Winnie the Pooh movie.

    • Old Man Father Time

      Ever-flippin AGREED. And the worst part: I know Disney doesn’t view his death as irony related to that decision in the slightest.

    • Slinky Dog

      Normally, I agree with this type of sentiment, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good the music and songs from the latest “Pooh” movie were. Very Sherman-esque, as it were…

    • Joe

      Robert had retired some years ago. Disney did hire the Brothers to work on The Tigger Movie when he was still working.

      I quite like what the Lopez’s did with the music in Winnie the Pooh. It fit the film, and matches the songs in the other Pooh films by the Sherman brothers.

  • Mike

    Rest in peace, Mr. Sherman.

  • Matt Sullivan

    That’s a damn shame. Every time I hear one of their songs it makes me wish I was a musician. ( or had any musical talent )

  • Vixie

    Not much I can say that hasn’t been said already. I am guessing pretty much everyone knows a Sherman Brothers song, even if they don’t realize who wrote it. Their work for Disney is just timeless, I can’t imagine any of those films without the great music they wrote for them.

    Among my favorite works of theirs is what I feel is an underrated soundtrack to an underrated film, Snoopy Come Home. Just a few bars of At the Beach from the opening sequence, or the song playing during the buddy scenes of Snoopy and Woodstock, and I can’t help but smile and want to watch the film again.

    I once heard the late great Louis Armstrong described as being beyond a legend, he was a national treasure. I think that description in an apt one to use here.

    • Have you heard Louis Armstrong sing Sherman songs on his album, “Disney Songs the Satchmo Way?” It marvelous, especially “Ten Feet Off the Ground,” which was also brilliantly covered by Michael Feinstein and Rosemary Clooney.

  • William

    Very sad indeed; the Shermans were my very favorite songwriters :(

    Don’t know if I have a favorite, but “A Symposium on Popular Songs” is a brilliant showcase for their talents, giving at once a fantastic sense of their ability to form a signature sound while also showing off their great versatility in style.

    • If you liked “Symposium,” check out the album “Tinpanorama” on iTunes. It has every song from the film except the Von Drake one, plus additional songs and it’s a gem.

  • Richard

    “I Wanna Be Like You” FULL STOP

  • Slinky Dog

    There goes one of the masters. He will be missed, but his memory lives on in his timeless tunes.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention “Feed the Birds” and “I Wan’na Be Like You” as two songs I’m particularly fond of, but my favorite Sherman Brothers songs come from their work on “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”, especially “Heffalumps and Woozles” and “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers”. And, of course this little ditty:

    Rest in peace, Mr. Sherman, and thanks for the memories.

  • Well no one has mentioned one of my favorites yet so I will:
    the creepy, haunting, and beautiful lullaby “Hushabye Mountain” from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”.

  • “Feed the Birds”

    “One Little Spark” (from the original Journey into Imagination at Epcot)

    “The Perfect Nanny”

    “Trust In Me” (Kaa’s song)

    “The Spectrum Song” (Ludwig VonDrake)

    “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers”

    “Fortuosity” (still play the instrumental version every day on Main Street Disneyland)

    “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room”

    “Chim Chim Cher-ee” (When the reprise gets all mystical and magic)

    Just a few that mean something to me…

    Thanks for the lyrics Robert. We’ll never forget them.


    I am very upset by this news!

  • Man, it stinks to have a childhood once-unknown-to-me legend die.

  • Rest in peace, Robert B. Sherman.

    I’ve always enjoyed the songs you wrote since I was little: “I Wanna Be Like You,” “Higitus Figitus,” “Me Ol’ Bamboo,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “Chim-Chim-Cheree,” “Step In Time,” “Fundamental-Friend-Dependability,” “No Dogs Allowed!,” “It Changes,”

    The list goes on.

  • The Shermans were certainly masters of their craft. Each one of their songs played on many different levels. How many people here know that A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow is actually a comment on the genius of Walt Disney? Don’t believe me…read the lyrics!
    Unlike other motion picture songwriters who wrote songs that stopped the action of a motion picture, the Shermans were expert at moving the story along. They were so good at this that their songs got into the fabric of the film itself; one thought of the song would bring back the whole film experience into your head. But the real amazing thing is how their songs brought joy to millions…real happiness! Favorite songs are ‘Chim Chim Cheree’ from Poppins, ‘I’ll Always Be Irish’ from The Happiest Millionaire and ‘One Little Spark’ from Epcot Center.

  • Justin

    In these last few days before Robert died, I’ve been listening to “I Wanna Be Like You” on YouTube.

  • AdrianC.

    I love many of the songs that others have already listed above virtually any song from “Mary Poppins” a “I Wanna Be Like You” for example) so I’ll name a few others that I thoroughly enjoy and haven’t been mentioned yet.

    “That’s What Makes The World Go Round” (from “The Sword in the Stone”)

    “The Age of Not Believing” (from “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”)

    “Substitutiary Locomotion” (from “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”)

    “Chin Up” (from “Charlotte’s Web”)

    “A Veritable Smorgasbord” (from “Charlotte’s Web”)

    “The Aristocats” (title theme from “The Aristocats”)

    Thank you, Mr. Sherman. You and your brother have a created a wealth of cherished memories for me and countless others.

  • “Pineapple Princess,” “Feed the Birds,” “Fly a Kite,” “Wanna Be Like You,” and “It Changes.” Anyone who hasn’t checked out The Boys, a documentary on the Sherman Brothers, really should…it’s amazing.

    RIP, Robert. I’m continually inspired by your charming, clever, and emotional, songwriting. Thank you.

  • Scarabim

    Oh, yes, favorite Sherman songs. I like so many…”You’re Sixteen”, “Spoonful of Sugar”, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (how the heck did they think of that word????), “Small World” (probably their best, despite its reputation among some), but I guess my very fave has to be “One Tiny Spark” from the Journey Into Imagination ride at Walt Disney World. Its message invokes the magic of Disney at its best, and is inspirational to anyone who dreams of working in the creative arts.

    Speaking of dreams – note to Disney: BRING BACK DREAMFINDER!!!!

  • Scarabim

    By the way, I believe that Robert Sherman’s favorite song out of all the songs he helped write was “On The Front Porch With You”, which was written for the Disney film “Summer Magic”, starring Burl Ives. And it’s a lovely song indeed.

  • “It’s A Small World” is one of those songs that you can’t imagine anybody wrote. It seems like it has always just been around. What a legend.

  • Carissa

    He will be missed. But I do believe Walt Disney has put him to work creating song for the heavens.

  • I never even considered a song for the silly sequence in “The Jungle Book,” but the Sherman Brothers delivered the goods.

    Now, I can’t even imagine my sequence without Kaa’s hissy, delightful song, “Trust in Me.”

  • Lala_Marin

    I’m sad, but very happy for the wonderful music we’ve been left with. RIP.

  • After reading all these comments,
    I can’t resist paraphrasing both songwriting Masters,
    (with apologies):

    You like Rango, I like Pooh,
    But we both love the Cartoon Brew
    Motion capture, cel, CG,
    We debate incessantly

    But we’ve got lots in common where it really counts
    Where it really counts, we’ve got large amounts
    Disagreements do not count an ounce,
    We’ve got lots in common where it

  • Wow, that’s tragic. It’s so sad to see that one of the major creative forces behind an indelible part of my childhood had passed away. Here are some Sherman songs that will forever live with me, most of which were already mentioned, but what the hey, no harm in listing them again.

    “The Parent Trap” from The Parent Trap
    “Puppy Love is Here to Stay” from A Symposium of Popular Songs
    “Ugly Bug Ball” from Summer Magic
    “It’s a Small World”
    “A Spoonful of Sugar” from Mary Poppins
    “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins
    “I Love to Laugh” from Mary Poppins
    “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” from Mary Poppins
    “Winnie the Pooh” from Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree
    “Rumbly in My Tumbly” from Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree
    “Up Down Touch the Ground” from Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree
    “I’m Just a Little Black Rain Cloud” from Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree
    “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” from Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day
    “Heffalumps and Woozles” from Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day <– probably my favorite.
    "I Can Talk" from Charlotte's Web

    • I think a part of our collective soul has moved on. He was a very sweet man. I had the pleasure and honor of working with them years ago. I got a call on a Thursday afternoon to arrange and produce a song they wrote for Beverly Hills Cop 3 (Wonderworld). Friday afternoon I was at their apartment studio – literally a small apartment on Harriet street in Hollywood (they told me they needed a place to work where their wives wouldn’t constantly tell them to take out the trash!). There was a grand piano and gold records covering the walls. I place my cassette recorder on top of the piano to record the song (no sheet music). Richard played and sang it as if I were John Landis or someone that mattered – they were selling the song to me. Their enthusiasm was contagious. It was as if we were back in the tin pan alley days. I stayed up through Saturday arranging and we recorded the song on Sunday afternoon. They were at the session and grinning from ear to ear. My heart was soaring. I may have gotten stiffed on the arranging credit for the film (It went to Niles Rogers who I have never met and had nothing to do with it) and was paid next to nothing for my effort, but to work with the Sherman brothers was priceless. Rest in peace Robert. Thank you for adding your optimism and spirit to this otherwise tough world. We miss you.

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    Let’s not forget the Sherman Bros composed the songs for Disney’s underappreciated live action/animated hybrid Bedknobs & Broomsticks. My favorite songs from that movie are Substiutionary Locomotion,With a Flare,and The Beautiful Briny.


    My heart goes out to Richard and his family. How hard it must be to let go of someone who has been so important in your life. Robert seemed like the more emotional and artistic of the two brothers. His history and his artistic side really made public in his interviews in the film The Boys. This really intrigued me. He had such an interesting life’s journey with extreme highs and lows. His experiences in the Army in WWII and having been one of the first American Soldiers to witness the aftermath of the Holocaust I am sure would move me to have been able to talk with him about that, though he seems to have kept that very private. Still, He had such heart it shown through in his music and in his words. After finding out about their separate lives in the film The Boys, the poem Richard reads from his older brother Robert was as poetic as anything I have ever heard.

    The Sun reflects upon our smiles
    Now we awaken and the mirror lies.
    Time and place is transient
    Only love and memory abide
    Reality lives just a little while
    … At times we glimpse it in each other’s eyes.
    Perhaps heredity is permanent,
    For within our hearts the major music hides
    On this the celebration of your birth,
    Your worth to me is more than I can say.
    It is rooted in the suns of yesterday.

    I would love to know more about his life after moved to London and away from Hollywood. The Sherman Brothers are true Americana at its best! Thank you Robert for all the laughter, tears and special moments, you will forever be in our hearts.


    Oh… of course, it’s Feed The Birds.
    That and The Monkey’s Uncle. :) Thanks Boys!

  • So sad. So sorry.