Richard M. Sherman, Acclaimed Songwriter Behind ‘Mary Poppins,’ Dies at 95

Michael Tran/Getty Images
Michael Tran/Getty Images

Richard M. Sherman, the two-time Oscar winner who with his brother produced some of the most memorable American songs for children, died Saturday of age-related illness at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills. He was 95 years old.

Sherman, a frequent collaborator with Walt Disney and other creatives in Disney’s inner circle, was a decorated songwriter whose accolades also counted three Grammy Awards and 24 gold and platinum albums over a career spanning six decades. He often worked alongside his older brother, Robert Sherman, who died in 2012.

Together, the Sherman brothers wrote more than 200 songs for more than 50 Disney movies and television shows. They were most known and recognized for their work on Mary Poppins. In 1965, they won the Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” In 2013, Sherman was portrayed by actor Jason Schwartzman in the movie Saving Mr. Banks, which dramatized the making of Mary Poppins.

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“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,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. The Sherman brothers were awarded “Disney Legend” status in 1990 for their contributions to the company.

Sherman and his brother also contributed music for theme park attractions at Disney’s properties around the world, including the jingle for the world cruise-themed “It’s a Small World.”

“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,” Iger added.

The Sherman brothers are also the only Americans to have won 1st Prize at the Moscow Film Festival, a feat they achieved in 1973 for their work on the movie musical The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Sherman is survived by his wife, children, and grandchildren.

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