Richard Sherman, beloved Disney songwriter, has died

Los Angeles, California - Richard Sherman, the writer behind songs in classic Disney movies such as Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book, died Saturday at the age of 95, the film and entertainment company said.

Legendary Disney songwriter Richard M. Sherman poses with Mickie and Minnie Mouse.
Legendary Disney songwriter Richard M. Sherman poses with Mickie and Minnie Mouse.  © REUTERS

He died in Beverly Hills from age-related illness, Disney said.

Sherman and his brother Robert, who died in 2012, worked as staff composers for Disney between 1960 and 1973, during which time they wrote more than 200 songs for 27 films and two dozen television productions.

Their work was that of another era, with Hollywood magazine Variety describing their roles as "a job that no longer exists: in-house songwriters for a studio."

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"Even when they weren't working for the Mouse House, their songs carried a Disney sensibility – bouncy and positive, without any of the cynicism so prevalent in creative works (including music) in the late 1960s and 1970s," the magazine said.

In a statement, Disney described Richard Sherman as a "key member" in founder Walt Disney's "inner circle of creative talents."

The brothers' work included Chim Chim Cher-ee, a hit from the 1964 film Mary Poppins, which won them an Oscar for best song. They also won the Academy Award for best score for the movie.

Richard and Robert Sherman's legendary musical legacy

Robert Sherman (l.) and his brother Richard Sherman pose with Tigger at a party following the premiere of The Tigger Movie.
Robert Sherman (l.) and his brother Richard Sherman pose with Tigger at a party following the premiere of The Tigger Movie.  © REUTERS

Robert Sherman wrote the lyrics and Richard, known as Dick, composed the music, following in the footsteps of their songwriter father Al Sherman.

"We are forever grateful for the mark Richard left on the world, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family," Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement.

The brothers were also responsible for hits such as It's a Small World and I Wan'na Be Like You from The Jungle Book, and composed the scores for non-Disney works such as 1968's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

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"The duo's work remains the quintessential lyrical voice of Walt Disney," the company said.

They continued collaborating with Disney throughout the years, with Richard Sherman writing new lyrics for the live action version of The Jungle Book in 2016 and composing songs for Christopher Robin in 2018.

He was "literally a never-ending fountain of stories, of facts, of anecdotes, and of bits and pieces of everything that had happened," actor Tom Hanks said in 2013.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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