Robert B. Sherman (born December 19, 1925) (see also: "Sherman Brothers") is an Academy Award-winning American songwriter who specializes in musical films with his brother Richard M. Sherman. Some of Sherman's best known writing includes the songs from Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Slipper and the Rose and the theme park song, "It's a Small World (after all)". He is also known for his work as a painter.
Robert B. Sherman was born in December 19, 1925 in New York City. His parents, Rosa (pronounced: "Rose") & Al Sherman paid Robert's delivery costs with a royalty check which had arrived that day. The title of the song which covered the hospital bill was "Save Your Sorrow". Al Sherman became a well known Tin Pan Alley songwriter.
As a youth, Robert Sherman excelled in intellectual pursuits, taking up the violin and piano, painting and writing poetry. Following seven years of frequent cross-country moves, the Shermans finally settled down in Beverly Hills, California. Throughout his years at Beverly Hills High School, he wrote and produced radio and stage programs for which he won much acclaim. At sixteen, he wrote a stage play entitled, Armistice and Dedication Day which earned thousands of dollars for War Bonds and a special citation from the War Department.
World War II
In 1943, Sherman obtained permission from his parents to join the army a year early, at age 17. In early April 1945, he led half a squad of men into Dachau concentration camp, the first Allied troops to enter the camp after it had been evacuated by the fleeing German military only hours earlier. On April 12, 1945, the day President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died, Sherman was shot in the knee forcing him to walk with a cane ever since. For his service to his country, he received two Battle Stars, a Combat Infantryman Badge and a Good Conduct Medal.
During his recuperation in Taunton and Bournemouth England, Sherman was awarded the Purple Heart medal. While still rehabilitating, Sherman first became curious about British culture, reading anything he could find on the subject. Once back on his feet, Sherman met and became friends with many British people, attaining first hand knowledge of the United Kingdom, her customs and people. Years later, Sherman credited this time in his life as the origin of his fascination with England, believing that it proved an invaluable resource to his songwriting career. Many of his best-known works center around English stories, authors and subject matter.
On his return to the United States, Sherman attended Bard College in upstate New York where he majored in English Literature and Painting. At Bard he completed his first two novels entitled, The Best Estate and Music, Candy and Painted Eggs. He graduated in the class of 1949. On May 12, 1990 Sherman received an Honorary Doctorate from Lincoln College.
Within two years, Sherman and his brother Richard began writing songs together on a challenge from their father. In 1953, Robert married Joyce Sasner, which helped to moderate what had become his wildly bohemian lifestyle in the years following the war.
In 1958, Sherman founded the music publishing company, Music World Corporation, which later enjoyed a landmark relationship with Disney's BMI publishing arm, Wonderland Music Company. That same year, the Sherman Brothers had their first "Top Ten" hit with "Tall Paul", sung by Mouseketeer, Annette Funicello. The success of this song yielded 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 best-loved song: It's a Small World (after all) for the 1964 New York World's Fair. Since then, "Small World" has become the most translated and performed song on earth.
In 1965, the Sherman Brothers won 2 Academy Awards for Mary Poppins (1964), which includes the songs "Feed The Birds", "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" and the Oscar winner, "Chim Chim Cher-ee". Since Mary Poppins' premiere, Robert B. Sherman has subsequently earned 9 Academy Award nominations, 2 Grammy Awards, 4 Grammy Award nominations and an incredible 23 gold and platinum albums.
Robert and Richard Sherman worked directly for Walt Disney until Disney's death in 1966. Since leaving the company, the brothers have 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 Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. 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 the 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 smash hit, 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 #1 spot 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 twenty eight years.
In 2002, Chitty hit the London stage and received rave revues. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is currently 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 Hilton Theatre. The Sherman Brothers wrote an additional six songs specifically for the new stage productions.
In 2002, Sherman moved from Beverly Hills to London, England where he continues to write and paint.
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 premier at the Prince Edward Theatre in December 2004 and features the Sherman Brothers classic songs.
In June 2005, Robert B. Sherman was inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame. Also in June 2005, a tribute was paid to Robert B. Sherman at the Théâtre de Vevey in Switzerland by the Ballet Romand. Chitty will be commencing its full UK tour in December 2005.
In 2005, Robert Sherman completed an autobiographical novel entitled Moose.
A lesser known aspect of Sherman's life is his painting which he has done since 1941 and kept private (except from his family and close friends) until 2002. Sherman studied painting while attending Bard College, receiving a double degree in both Painting and English Literature. Sherman has worked in various visual arts media, including clay and metal sculpture, but his main focus was oil painting throughout the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. He switched to acrylics in the mid 1960s, and has painted in that medium ever since.
In April 2002, an exhibition of Sherman's paintings was held in London, England, at Thompsons' Gallery on Marylebone High Street. This marked the first public exhibition of his paintings since he started painting in 1941. The London Exhibition was widely covered by TV, radio and printed press. Sherman subsequently enjoyed a succession of successful art exhibitions in Florida and California with the sale of many Limited Edition giclée prints of his work on both paper and canvas.
Marriage & family
Sherman married Joyce Ruth (Sasner) Sherman on September 27, 1953. Joyce and Robert had four children named Laurie, Jeff, Tracy and Robbie. Joyce Sherman died on October 16, 2001.
In 2000, the Sherman Brothers wrote the award winning score to The Tigger Movie which achieved number one status in both theatrical box office and video sales.
The Sherman Brothers' classic motion picture, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was adapted into a London West End Musical in 2002 and premiered at the London Palladium on April 16, 2002 featuring many new songs and a reworked score by both Sherman Brothers. It was nominated for a 2003 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best New Musical. The Sherman Brothers each received the "Musical Theatre Award" from the Variety Club of Great Britain that year as well for Chitty.
Chitty finished a record breaking, three and a half year run at the Palladium becoming the longest running show in the theatre's century long history. 2004 saw the premiere of Mary Poppins on the stage. In 2005, Poppins was nominated for nine Olivier Awards. In 2005 Chitty went to Broadway and was nominated for 9 Tonys and also began its nation wide (UK) tour.
On June 9, 2005, Sherman was inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame alongside Bill Withers, Steve Cropper, John Fogerty, Isaac Hayes, David Porter and his brother, Richard M. Sherman.
In 2006, Sherman began preproduction on the film project Inkas the Ramferinkas and on November 16, 2006, Mary Poppins is scheduled to premiere on Broadway in the same theatre where the Lion King currently plays.
Major motion picture scores
Motion picture screenplays
Theme park songs