Richard Sherman, Oscar-winning 'A Spoonful of Sugar' and 'It's a Small World' songwriter, dies at 95

Richard and his late brother, Robert, comprised the Sherman Brothers, who penned music for Disney films like "Mary Poppins" and "The Jungle Book."

Richard M. Sherman, the younger brother of the Disney songwriting duo behind such tunes as “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and “It’s a Small World (After All),” died on Saturday in Beverly Hills. He was 95.

The Walt Disney Company announced his death in a May 25 obituary.

Sherman, who died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of an age-related illness, was considered a key member of founder Walt Disney’s "inner circle of creative talent,” the company said in a statement, referencing his work for the 1964 classic Mary Poppins and his music for many of the theme park rides in Disney World, Disneyland, and Epcot.

Richard and his late brother, Robert B. Sherman, were professionally known as the Sherman Brothers. The pair penned music for the screen and stage alike, earning two Academy Awards and three Grammys, and selling 24 gold and platinum albums.

“Richard Sherman was the embodiment of what it means to be a Disney Legend, creating along with his brother, Robert, the beloved classics that have become a cherished part of the soundtrack of our lives,” said Bob Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Company. “From films like Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book to attractions like ‘It’s a Small World,’ the music of the Sherman Brothers has captured the hearts of generations of audiences. We are forever grateful for the mark Richard left on the world, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family.”

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<p>Elyse Jankowski/Getty</p> Richard Sherman

Elyse Jankowski/Getty

Richard Sherman

Pete Docter, the chief creative officer of Pixar Animation Studios, said, “You don’t get songs like ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ without a genuine love of life, which Richard passed on to everyone lucky enough to be around him. Even in his 90s he had more energy and enthusiasm than anyone, and I always left renewed by Richard’s infectious joy for life.”

Related: We ranked all 16 songs from Mary Poppins

Born June 12, 1928, the son of actress Rosa Dancis Sherman and Tin Pan Alley songwriter Al Sherman, Richard would follow in his father’s footsteps along with his elder brother.

The duo first connected with Walt Disney after writing "Tall Paul" for Annette Funicello, a former Mouseketeer on The Mickey Mouse Club. The success of the tune, which hit No. 7 on the Billboard singles chart, led to a meeting with Disney, resulting in the brothers penning the song "Let’s Get Together,” which was featured in the 1961 movie The Parent Trap.

From there, they wrote music for dozens of projects for the studio, including 1963’s animated film The Sword in the Stone and the Oscar-winning 1968 short Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. They also wrote the screenplays for four live-action Disney movies, such as the 1976 Cinderella musical The Slipper and the Rose.

<p>AP Photo/File</p> Richard Sherman, Robert Sherman, and Debbie Reynolds

AP Photo/File

Richard Sherman, Robert Sherman, and Debbie Reynolds

The Shermans played a crucial role in crafting the story of Mary Poppins, for which they handled the score, songs, and lyrics. The making of the 1964 hit was later dramatized in the 2013 movie Saving Mr. Banks, which starred Jason Schwartzman as Richard and B.J. Novak as Robert.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in 2012, Richard named Julie Andrews as the most talented singer the brothers had worked with during their careers. "She just was incredible, and when she sang the songs in Mary Poppins, she just put it in a new orbit," he said. "In fact, the incredible success of Mary Poppins was the door that opened to us so we could get to write so many song scores after that. It was really a very big jump forward. Between Julie Andrews and [her Mary Poppins costar] Dick Van Dyke doing the incredible jobs they did on our songs, we became established."

Related: 'Mary Poppins' star talks 50th anniversary and 'Saving Mr. Banks'

The siblings worked for the Disney studio head until his death in 1966, after which they continued contributing pieces to the company's projects, including the music for The One and Only Genuine Original Family Band, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats. They also expanded beyond the studio, teaming up with Albert R. Broccoli for 1968’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which earned the brothers their third Academy Award nomination.

They would also write the score for the World War II–era musical Victory Canteen, which ran for seven months at the Ivar Theatre in Hollywood and eventually became the 1974 Broadway show Over Here!, with a book by Will Holt. It was nominated for five Tony Awards and is remembered for its cast, which included then-unknowns John Travolta, Marilu Henner, Treat Williams, and Ann Reinking.

Richard recently appeared in Once Upon a Studio, the 2023 live action–animated crossover short celebrating 100 years of Disney storytelling.

He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Sherman; his children; and his grandchildren.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.