Richard and Robert Sherman are unique. Unlike many other Disney Legends, their work touched just about every division of the company. As songwriters, they were involved in film, television, theme parks and records.
The Sherman Brothers got their songwriting start when their father, a songwriter himself, dared them to write a song together and sell it. They did it successfully and launched a career writing teenage pop, including "You're Sixteen". The brothers came to the notice of Walt Disney when they began writing songs for Annette Funicello, including "Tall Paul," and "Strumming Song". Mr. Disney hired the brothers as staff writers, positions that gave them first crack at any songwriting assignments that came up around the studio.
The Shermans had never written a movie score or for a movie before, but Walt Disney entrusted them with the task for The Parent Trap a job they eagerly tackled. Their success with the project led to getting the biggest job of their lives- Mary Poppins.
Walt Disney had battled for decades to get the rights for Mary Poppins and it was a special project for him. It would have been excusable if Mr. Disney had hired a more accomplished songwriting team, experienced in writing songs for films. Walt Disney, however, had full confidence in the brothers and they were given the opportunity to write for the biggest project of their lives. The results were extraordinary- practically perfect in every way. The brothers won Academy Awards for their amazing work.
The Shermans were given even bigger projects, directly from Walt himself, writing songs for other films and other projects at DISNEYLAND. Their most famous and beloved song was "it's a small world (after all)" the title song for the beloved DISNEYLAND attraction that has been replicated at every Disney Magic Kingdom park around the world. The brothers were even given the job of writing DISNEYLAND's tenth anniversary song. The first birthday song for Walt's pride and joy.
The Brothers' reach extends to today; Richard Sherman wrote "Make Way For Tomorrow Today" for Disney's Marvel Films' Iron Man 2. The famed Stark Expo from the film was inspired by the visionary Walt Disney and his optimism for the future. The song was inspired by The Sherman Brothers' own "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow".
The Sherman Brothers were always proud that they had written Walt Disney's favorite song- "Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)". They would often play it for him at the end of a particularly rough week. On December 5th, 2001 on what would have been Walt Disney's 100th Birthday, Richard Sherman gave a special performance at Walt Disney's favorite place on earth- DISNEYLAND. Towards the end of his performance, he apologized to the crowd; the next song would not be performed for them- it would be performed for his boss and friend- Walt Disney. Mr. Sherman began performing Walt's favorite song. To the astonishment of those in attendance, a bird descended on the edge of Mr. Sherman's piano where it stayed until the end of the song before flying off. Apparently Mr. Sherman's favorite boss approved.
Robert Sherman passed away in 2012. Richard Sherman is still alive and sharing his stories about his beloved boss Walt Disney.
The company has honored the Sherman Brothers in many ways- by naming them the 18 & 19th Disney Legends and giving them a Window on Main Street in DISNEYLAND. If you'd like to see it, you can find it next door to the Magic Shop.