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Disney Legend Richard M. Sherman, Iconic Songwriter, Dies at 95

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– Richard M. Sherman, the acclaimed Disney Legend and one part of the Sherman Brothers songwriting duo, has died at the age of 95 due to age-related illness, leaving behind a legacy that includes iconic songs and film scores such as those from “Mary Poppins” and “The Jungle Book.”
– Over his career, Sherman won multiple Oscars and Grammys, contributed to over 200 songs for Disney films and theme parks, and continued to be involved in music creation up until his recent work for the company’s 100th anniversary, underlining his enduring influence on the world of music and entertainment.

The world has bid farewell to Richard M. Sherman, the luminous Disney Legend who, as one half of the Sherman Brothers, orchestrated the quintessential sounds of many childhoods and enchanted audiences with melodies that whisked them away to worlds of wonder. On May 25, Sherman’s storied journey came to a peaceful end at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills, as he succumbed to an age-related illness at the age of 95. His death marks the end of an era, but his compositions will resonate forever.

Sherman’s remarkable career spanned 65 years, during which he achieved phenomenal success, capturing two Oscars for his work on “Mary Poppins” and gathering a grand total of nine Academy Award nominations. Besides his Oscar wins, Sherman boasted an impressive collection of accolades including three Grammy Awards and 24 gold and platinum albums. His profound influence and integral role have earned him a place in the annals of Disney’s creative pioneers.

Together with his brother Robert, Sherman crafted scores that became not just soundtracks for films but the background music to our lives. Their Oscar-winning achievements for “Mary Poppins” included Best Score and Best Original Song for the whimsical “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” Additionally, they penned the enchantingly complex “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and the touching “Feed the Birds,” which Walt Disney himself counted among his all-time favorites.

Bob Iger, the CEO of The Walt Disney Company, encapsulated Sherman’s indelible impact, identifying him as an embodiment of what it means to be a Disney Legend. He acknowledged the timeless classics that the Sherman Brothers presented to the world, treasures like “The Jungle Book” and much-loved theme park attractions like ‘it’s a small world.’ Iger’s words mirrored the gratitude felt by many for Sherman’s lasting contributions.

Pete Docter, the Chief Creative Officer at Pixar Animation Studios, emphasized that Sherman’s work was more than just music—it was an expression of his infectious zest for life that left an indelible mark on those fortunate enough to cross his path. Docter admired Sherman’s endless enthusiasm, a trait that seemed to defy age and inspired everyone around him.

Tracing the origins of such a monumental figure, Richard Sherman’s story began in New York City, born to Al Sherman, a respected songwriter in his own right. The pursuit of his craft led him to Beverly Hills, Bard College, and through the ranks of the United States Army as a conductor, setting the stage for his later musical conquests.

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Sherman’s ascent to Disney stardom began serendipitously with the hit “Tall Paul,” recorded by Annette Funicello, which captured Walt Disney’s attention and led to their long-standing partnership. The Sherman Brothers’ musical contributions spanned over 200 songs for 27 films and numerous television projects, ensconcing them as Disney’s melodic mainstays.

Outside the walls of the Magic Kingdom, their work echoed through other cinematic classics, from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” to beloved animations like “Charlotte’s Web.” Recognition for their work culminated in their induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 and their reception of the National Medal of the Arts in 2008, memorializing them as architects of joy and imagination.

Even after Robert Sherman’s passing in 2012, Richard remained creatively active, contributing to modern Disney productions and reimagining cherished classics, like their song “Feed the Birds” recorded in Walt Disney’s very office—a fitting homage to the artistic sanctuary where they once performed for Disney himself.

Sherman’s family, including his wife of 66 years, Elizabeth; his children, Gregory, Victoria, and Lynda Rothstein; and his numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, will ensure that the love and memories he infused into his music will continue to be a part of their lives and the lives of legions of fans around the globe.

With the parting of Richard M. Sherman, the world may seem a little less melodic, but the joy and spirit he infused into his songs will reverberate, ensuring that his influence, like the inspiration found in each note, will never truly fade away.

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