Richard M. Sherman, Songwriter and Disney Legend, Dead at 95

Richard Sherman and his brother Robert Sherman were best known for creating the music for Mary Poppins.

Richard M. Sherman, the composer known for creating iconic works of music alongside his brother, Robert Sherman, has passed away at age 95. According to NPR, Sherman passed away due to an age-related illness. Serman's death comes 12 years after his brother passed away at age 86. Richard, the younger of the Sherman brothers, continued to work in recent years. Best known for creating the music of Mary Poppins, which won the Shermans two Academy Awards in 1965, Richard Sherman was a Disney Legend. Last year, Sherman recorded a new version of "Feed the Birds" from Mary Poppins for the short film, Once Upon a Studio. "Feed the Birds" was known to be Walt Disney's favorite song, and Sherman would often play it for him in his office. 

Sherman was born in New York on June 12th in 1928, and his family moved to Beverly Hills, California when he was 9. The Sherman brothers' gift for music came from their father, Al, who was also a songwriter. In an interview in 2005, Sherman recalled his father encouraging him and his brother to write together. "He sensed that Bob and I collaborating and pooling our wits could come up with something," Sherman shared.

The Sherman brothers' hit song "Tall Paul" from 1958 is what caught the attention of Walt Disney. Their music career began at Disney with The Parent Trap in 1961 and they continued to create music for films such as The Sword in the Stone, Winnie Pooh and the Honey Tree, The Jungle Book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Aristocats, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and more. 

Throughout their career, the Shermans were nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning "Best Music, Substantially Original Score" for Mary Poppins and "Best Music, Original Song" for Mary Poppins' "Chim Chim Cher-ee."

The Sherman brothers' songwriting history and complicated personal relationship was chronicled in the 2009 film, The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story. Their last original score was for Disney's The Tigger Movie in 2000. In 2018, Sherman served as a consultant on Mary Poppins Returns, which featured new music from Marc Shaiman and songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda. 

Last year, ComicBook spoke with the directors of Once Upon a Studio, and they reflected on their time working with Sherman.

"That was an amazing day," Trent Correy shared. "Dan texted me the night before and said, 'Tuck your shirt in, buddy, wear something nice.' Because meeting Richard Sherman, he's a legend. And at 94 years young, he played 'Feed the Birds' for us. And it was a magical day."

"He and his brother Bob were like, they're a soundtrack to my youth," Dan Abraham added. "And I did bring my Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too record for him to sign. I had to play it cool and be like, 'This is awesome and stuff.' But like, oh my gosh, those guys are so talented. And to get to record him at 94 years old in Walt Disney's office on a Friday afternoon on the same piano that he played for Walt, it was just like a constant, 'Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry.' I'll never forget that day."

Our thoughts are with Richard Sherman's loved ones at this difficult time.