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Disney songwriter Robert Sherman passes away at 86

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Published: March 5, 2012 at 10:55 PM

Robert Sherman, one half of the Sherman Brothers composing team who wrote some of the Disney theme parks' most beloved songs, has died at the age 86.

Robert's son Jeffrey posted the news on his Facebook page Monday night:

My Dad, Robert B. Sherman, passed away tonight in London. He went peacefully after months of truly valiantly fending off death. He loved life and his dear heart finally slowed to a stop when he could fight no more.

I will write more about this incredible man I love and admire so much when I am better rested and composed. He deserves that.

In the meantime, please say a prayer for him. As he said, he wanted to bring happiness to the world and, unquestionably, he succeeded. His love and his prayers, his philosophy and his poetry will live on forever. Forever his songs and his genius will bring hope, joy and love to this small, small world.

Robert and Richard Sherman were named Disney Legends in 1990 and won Academy Awards in 1965 for Best Original Song and Best Score for Mary Poppins. The Sherman Brothers' theme park songs include "The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room," "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" and the classic "It's a Small World."

I never met Robert, but I did meet his brother Richard at the 2009 IAAPA conference, and you can hear Richard's reminiscences about their music, from that event.

Readers' Opinions

From Skipper Adam on March 5, 2012 at 10:57 PM
The Sherman brother have had amazing careers, writing way more music than people realize. This is pretty sad.
From Mike Gallagher on March 6, 2012 at 4:14 AM
Waiting for the expressions of appreciation of Sherman's oeuvre from those who abhor the song from "It's A Small World."

A man who definitely found a niche and made his mark.

From Dominick D on March 6, 2012 at 7:35 AM
This is very sad. Who else could of bought us "Grim Grinning Ghosts", "It's a Small World", "A Pirates Life for Me", and more!
From Robert Niles on March 6, 2012 at 7:40 AM
The Shermans did not write Grim Grinning Ghosts or Pirates.
From Robert Niles on March 6, 2012 at 7:42 AM
FWIW, I have loved Small World ever since hearing Richard perform it as he said it was written: as a hymn. Follow the IAAPA link above. It's beautiful.
From Tim Odom on March 6, 2012 at 7:55 AM
While I find the 'it's a small world' ride insanely frightening, that version of the song from the above link is quite beautiful.
From Dominick D on March 6, 2012 at 8:01 AM
I feel embarassed now O.O
From Tom Rigg on March 6, 2012 at 8:39 AM
I've had "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" stuck in my head today and nothing could make me happier. I think ultimately, the Sherman brothers could catch you and hold you indefinitely with a tune and lyrics and that was their true talent. They could consolidate all of the optimism that Walt Disney worked so hard to convey into a simple melody and words that defined the attractions they graced. Despite the polarized opinions, the thing everyone remembers from Small World is the song and I don't think I've ever left The Carousel of Progress without hearing someone humming the tune. For those that said they hated the songs I would submit that if you just give into them they have the desired effect. Resisting the joy and hopefulness of a Sherman Brothers song is like flying a kite in the dark, its just unwholesome.
From Don Lancaster on March 6, 2012 at 9:33 AM
One of the best measure of a person's life is if how much happiness they brought to others. By this measure, Robert Sherman had an amazing life. The songs that he and his brother created have brought joy to millions. Their theme park music (Now is the Time, There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, Tiki Room Theme, Its Small World, One Little Spark, Miracles Though Molecules..) and their movie music (Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Jungle Book, Winnie the Poo...) are the soundtracks to some of the happiest memories of my life.

Rest in Peace Mr Sherman. The world is a better place because you were in it.

From Tyler Stover on March 6, 2012 at 10:16 AM
This is a truly sad day.
From Amanda Jenkins on March 6, 2012 at 11:08 AM
Our world just became a little less magical from this loss.
From Mark Fairleigh on March 6, 2012 at 8:51 PM
Thank you for the music. Rest In Peace, Mr. Sherman.
From David Sutter on March 7, 2012 at 5:32 AM
Robert Serman was great songwriter. As I child I grew up on his music in the Disney films. I watched a documemtery on him and his borther not long ago. And was amazed that one of Walt Disneys favorite songs was from "Mary Poppins..."Feed the Birds"...Which he refered to as the bird song. He will live on thru his music and hopefully will continue to inspire others. He will be missed, but always heared.

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