Richard M. Sherman
Richard Morton Sherman
June 12, 1928
New York City, U.S.
|Alma mater||Bard College|
|Occupation(s)||Composer, lyricist, screenwriter, publisher, music director|
Rosa (Dancis) Sherman
|Relatives||Robert B. Sherman (brother)|
Robert J. Sherman (nephew)
|Genres||Musical film, musical theatre, animation music|
Richard Morton Sherman (born June 12, 1928) is an American songwriter who specialized in musical films with his brother Robert B. Sherman. According to the official Walt Disney Company website and independent fact checkers, "the Sherman Brothers were responsible for more motion picture musical song scores than any other songwriting team in film history."
Some of the Sherman Brothers' best known songs were incorporated into live action and animation musical films including: Mary Poppins, The Happiest Millionaire, The Jungle Book, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Snoopy Come Home, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Slipper and the Rose, and Charlotte's Web.
Their most well known work, however, remains "It's a Small World (After All)", written for the theme park attraction of the same name. According to Time, it may be the most (publicly) performed song in history.
Richard Morton Sherman was born in New York City to Russian Jewish immigrants, Rosa (Dancis) and Al Sherman. Together with his older brother Robert, "The Sherman Brothers" eventually followed in their songwriting father's footsteps to form a long-lasting songwriting partnership.
Following seven years of frequent cross-country moves, the Sherman family finally settled down in Beverly Hills, California in 1937. During Richard's years at Beverly Hills High School, he became fascinated with music and studied several instruments, including the flute, piccolo, and piano. At his 1946 high school graduation, Sherman and classmate André Previn played a musical duet with Previn on piano and Sherman on flute. The Sherman Brothers later won a 1964 Oscar for Music Score – Substantially Original for Mary Poppins and a second for Best Original Song for "Chim Chim Cher-ee".
In 1953 Sherman was drafted into United States Army, being assigned to the Army Band and glee club. Serving as musical conductor for both groups from 1953 until his honorable discharge in 1955, he was stationed solely in the United States during his time in the service. During this time, his brother Robert worked with other songwriters.
As a student at Bard College, Sherman majored in music, writing numerous sonatas and "art songs". His ambition to write the "great american symphony" eventually led him to write songs.
Within two years of graduating, Sherman and his brother Robert began writing songs together on a challenge from their father, Al Sherman, a successful popular songwriter in the "Tin Pan Alley" days ("No! No! A Thousand Times No!!", "You Gotta Be a Football Hero").
In 1958, Sherman's brother Robert founded the music publishing company, Music World Corporation, which later worked with Disney's BMI publishing arm, Wonderland Music Company. That same year, the Sherman Brothers had their first Top Ten hit with "Tall Paul", which was sung by Annette Funicello. The success of this song attracted the attention of Walt Disney who eventually hired the Sherman Brothers as Staff Songwriters for Walt Disney Studios. While at Disney, the Sherman Brothers wrote what is perhaps their most recognized song: "It's a Small World (After All)" for the 1964 New York World's Fair.
In 1965, the Sherman brothers won 2 Academy Awards for Mary Poppins – Best Original Score, which included "Feed The Birds", "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"; and Best Original Song, "Chim Chim Cher-ee". Since Mary Poppins' premiere, Robert B. Sherman subsequently earned 9 Academy Award nominations, 2 Grammy Awards, 4 Grammy Award nominations and 23 gold and platinum albums.
Robert and Richard Sherman worked directly for Walt Disney until Disney's death in 1966. After leaving the company, the brothers worked freelance as songwriters on scores of motion pictures, television shows, theme park exhibits and stage musicals.
Their first non-Disney assignment came with Albert R. Broccoli's motion picture production Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1968 which garnered the brothers their third Academy Award Nomination. In 1973, the Sherman Brothers made history by becoming the only Americans ever to win First Prize at the Moscow Film Festival for Tom Sawyer for which they also authored the screenplay.
The Slipper and the Rose was picked to be the Royal Command Performance of the year and was attended by Queen Elizabeth. A modern musical adaptation of the classic Cinderella story, Slipper also features both song-score and screenplay by the Sherman Brothers. That same year the Sherman Brothers received their star on the Hollywood "Walk of Fame" directly across from Grauman's Chinese Theater.
Their numerous other Disney and non-Disney top box office film credits include The Jungle Book (1967), The Aristocats (1970), The Parent Trap (1961), The Parent Trap (1998), Charlotte's Web (1973), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977), Snoopy, Come Home (1972), Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) and Little Nemo: Adventures In Slumberland (1992).
Outside the motion picture realm, their Tony-nominated Over Here! (1974) was the biggest-grossing original Broadway Musical of that year. The Sherman Brothers have also written numerous top-selling songs, including "You're Sixteen", which holds the distinction of reaching Billboard's Top Ten twice; first with Johnny Burnette in 1960 and then with Ringo Starr fourteen years later. Other top-ten hits include, "Pineapple Princess", "Let's Get Together" and more.
In 2000, the Sherman brothers wrote the song score for Disney's blockbuster film: The Tigger Movie (2000). This film marked the brothers' first major motion picture for the Disney company in over 28 years.
In 2002, the stage musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang premiered in London. It was the most successful stage show ever produced at the London Palladium, boasting the longest run in that century-old theatre's history. In early 2005 a second Chitty company premiered on Broadway (New York City) at the Foxwoods Theatre (then the Hilton Theatre). The Sherman Brothers wrote an additional six songs specifically for the new stage productions.
In 2003, four Sherman brothers' musicals ranked in the "Top 10 Favorite Children's Films of All Time" in a (British) nationwide poll reported by the BBC. The Jungle Book (1967)_ranked at #7, Mary Poppins (1964) ranked at #8, The Aristocats (1970) ranked at #9 and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) topped the list at #1.
A new Disney and Cameron Mackintosh production of Mary Poppins: The Stage Musical made its world premiere at the Prince Edward Theatre in December 2004 and features the Sherman Brothers classic songs.
In June 2005, Richard M. Sherman was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame with his brother. Chitty opened on Broadway in 2005 and commenced its first full UK tour in December 2005 with subsequent tours and/or tour dates in each year since. Mary Poppins opened on Broadway in 2006.
In 2008 Mary Poppins embarked on a UK tour as well as a world tour beginning in Göteborg, Sweden. Chitty embarked on a tour of 29 cities in the U.S. which ended in 2009.
Recently, Sherman once again collaborated with Disney in three of its live-action films, having rewritten the song "I Wan'na Be Like You" for Jon Favreau's 2016 remake of The Jungle Book. As the film featured the song's performer, King Louie, as a Gigantopithecus, Sherman rewrote it to fit the character's depiction. He also wrote three new songs for the 2018 film Christopher Robin, titled "Goodbye Farewell", "Busy Doing Nothing", and "Christopher Robin", the last two performed by Sherman. Sherman also acted as a music consultant for Mary Poppins Returns, the sequel to Mary Poppins. Sherman will also write new songs for the upcoming musical stage adaptation of The Jungle Book.
On May 4, 2023 a feature film development deal on the Sherman Brothers' animation musical, Inkas the Ramferinkas was announced.
In the late 1940s, while Richard was attending Bard college, he was briefly married to Corrine Newman. They had one child, Lynda. In 1957 Richard married Ursula Elizabeth Gluck; the couple had two children, Gregory Vincent and Victoria Lynn. Sherman has six grandchildren.
Following Robert Sherman's relocation from Beverly Hills to London, England, the brothers continued to collaborate musically. They credited the ability to do so long-distance to technology via fax, e-mail, and the low-cost international telephone service. Both brothers frequently traveled between Los Angeles, New York, and London working together on various musical plays until Robert's death in 2012.
Richard and Elizabeth have been married for over 60 years and remain active. They continue to live in Beverly Hills, California.
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Robert J Sherman, son of Robert B. Sherman and a successful composer in his own right brings the utterly compelling story of one family's century-long, award-winning musical journey to UK audiences in 2018.
The whole show is filled with whimsy, magic and some of the most memorable songs ever written; it does the Sherman family proud. I can't remember when I spent a more joyful or moving evening at the theatre.