Showbiz

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious composer dies, 86

LONDON, March 7 — Disney songwriter Robert Sherman, part of a team with brother Richard responsible for numerous film scores and children’s songs, has died in London, 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”.

Robert Sherman (right) and his brother Richard, winners for best song and best score for “Mary Poppins” at the 37th Academy Awards, with best actress Julie Andrews for her role in the same film, in this file photo backstage in 1965. — Reuters picRobert Sherman (right) and his brother Richard, winners for best song and best score for “Mary Poppins” at the 37th Academy Awards, with best actress Julie Andrews for her role in the same film, in this file photo backstage in 1965. — Reuters picSherman, born in New York City in 1925, 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 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 No. 1 with a cover by Ringo Starr in 1974. Other top 10s 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 honour conferred on artists by the United States government.

Sherman’s son Jeffrey, in a post on his Facebook profile, said his father “wanted to bring happiness to the world and, unquestionably, he succeeded”. — Reuters

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