Robert Sherman(American songwriter, metal sculptor, poet, and short story author)
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Biography Robert Sherman
Robert Bernard Sherman (December 19, 1925 - March 6, 2012) was an American songwriter who specialized in musical films with his brother Richard Morton Sherman. Some of the Sherman Brothers' best known songs were incorporated into movies and animations like Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Slipper and the Rose, Charlotte's Web and the theme park song of "It's a Small World (After All)".
Robert Bernard Sherman was born on December 19, 1925 in New York City to Russian-Jewish immigrants, Rosa and Al Sherman. Al Sherman, a songwriter, paid for Robert's hospital delivery costs with a royalty check that had arrived that day for the song "Save Your Sorrow". Al Sherman was to become 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. Some of the primary schools Robert attended in Manhattan included PS 241 and the Ethical Culture Fieldston School; in California, the El Rodeo School.
Throughout his years at Beverly Hills High School, he wrote and produced radio and stage programs for which he won much acclaim. At age 16, he wrote Armistice and Dedication Day, a stage play centered on contemporary 1940s Americans that showed how their lives were inextricably changed following the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. The play yielded thousands of dollars for War Bonds and earned a special citation from the War Department.
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 D. Roosevelt died, Sherman was shot in the knee, forcing him to walk with a cane for the rest of his life.
For his service to his country, he received two Battle Stars, a Combat Infantryman Badge, an American Campaign Medal, a World War II Victory Medal, a European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and a Good Conduct Medal. In addition, Sherman was also awarded several Army Weapons Qualifications badges including a "Sharpshooter badge" with bars for both rifle and submachine gun; a "Marksman Badge" for carbine and an "Expert Badge" for rifle and grenade.
During his recuperation in Taunton and Bournemouth in the UK, 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, its 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. Sherman also served as the editor-in-chief of The Bardian which is the campus newspaper. At Bard, Sherman completed his first two novels, 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, Al Sherman, a successful popular songwriter in the "Tin Pan Alley" days ("No! No! A Thousand Times No!!", "You Gotta Be a Football Hero"). In 1953, Robert married Joyce Sasner, which moderated what had become his bohemian lifestyle in the years following the war. His first child, Laurie, was born in 1955, followed by Jeffrey in 1957, Andrea in 1960 and later, Robert in 1968.
In 1958, Sherman founded the music publishing company, Music World Corporation, which later worked with Disney's BMI publishing arm, Wonderland Music Company. That same year, the Sherman Brothers had their first Top Ten hit with "Tall Paul", which was sung by 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 most recognized song: "It's a Small World (After All)" for the 1964 New York World's Fair.
In 1965, the Sherman Brothers won 2 Academy Awards for Mary Poppins, including "Feed The Birds", "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", and the Oscar winner, "Chim Chim Cher-ee". Since Mary Poppins' premiere, Robert B. Sherman subsequently earned 9 Academy Award nominations, 2 Grammy Awards, 4 Grammy Award nominations and 23 gold and platinum albums.
Robert and Richard Sherman worked directly for Walt Disney until Disney's death in 1966.
After leaving the company, the brothers 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 Queen Elizabeth. 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 Grauman's 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 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 Top Ten 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.
Original London cast - "Janes and Michaels". Left to right (Front): Poppy Lee Friar, Jack Montgomery, Perry Millward, Harry Stott, Ben Watton, Jake Catterall, Nicola Bowman. Left to right (BACK): Charlotte Spencer, Faye Spittlehouse, Carrie Fletcher, Robert B. Sherman.
In 2002 the stage musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang premiered in London. It 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 Foxwoods Theatre (then 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 continued 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 premiere 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 with his brother. Also in June 2005, a tribute was paid to Robert B. Sherman at the Théâtre de Vevey in Vevey, Switzerland by the Ballet Romand. Chitty opened on Broadway in 2005 and commenced its first full UK tour in December 2005 with subsequent tours and/or tour dates in each year since. Poppins opened on Broadway in 2006.
In 2008, Robert Sherman completed an autobiographical novel entitled Moose while Poppins embarked on a UK tour as well as a world tour beginning in Göteborg, Sweden. Chitty embarked on a 29 city, U.S. tour, which went through 2009.
A lesser known aspect of Sherman's life was his painting which he had 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 until he switched to acrylics in the mid 1960s, and stuck to that medium.
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. Sherman subsequently exhibited his paintings in Florida and California. A series of Limited Edition Giclées of Sherman's art were also published at this time on both canvas and paper.
Paintings which have appeared at the various exhibitions include: "On Route 9G" (c.1949), "Self Portrait" (1970), "San Francisco (1970)", "Moses" (1977), "Carousel In The Country" (1982), "From the Dining Room (1982)", "Sacrifice" (1983), "Florid Window" (1984), "Geisha (1986)", "Fine Four Fendered Friend (2002)" and "Park Lane" (2003). On March 4, 2007, Sherman and his younger son, Robbie, donated limited edition prints of "Moses" and "Sacrifice" to the Giffnock Synagogue in Glasgow, Scotland.
Robert Sherman was also a metal sculptor, poet, and short story author.
Marriage and family
Sherman married Joyce Ruth Sasner on September 27, 1953. Joyce and Robert Sherman have four children: Laurie Shane, Jeffrey Craig, Andrea Tracy and Robert Jason. Joyce Sherman died on October 16, 2001.
Robert B. Sherman Scholarship
In 2005, Robert Sherman established an annual scholarship award in his name through the BMI Foundation. The awardee is chosen by BMI's Lehman Engel program with some consultation with Sherman. The first awardee was announced in November 2006. Awardees are chosen for their excellence in musical comedy songwriting with an emphasis on lyric writing. Following is a list of the annual winners since the award's inception:
- 2006 - Andrew Nellessen
- 2007 - Michael Mitnick
- 2008 - (No Award This Year)
- 2009 - Jeffrey Simno
- 2010 - Andy Roninson
From 2002 until his death, Robert Sherman lived in London, England. He moved from Beverly Hills while Richard Sherman remained in California. The geographical separation did not impede the brothers' collaborative process. The brothers credited this to the technological advents of fax machines, email and low-cost international telephone service. Also, both brothers travelled between Los Angeles, New York and London frequently which also facilitated their work. After Robert's move, the brothers continued to collaborate on various musical plays as well as a feature, animated, film musical which incorporates their original story, song score and screenplay. In his later years, Sherman was a frequent visitor to Ireland, stating that the Irish persona was like a "continuous pantomime."
Robert B. Sherman died in London on March 6, 2012. Details of his death were not immediately available. His son Jeff posted a statement on Facebook announcing his father's death: "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."
Major film scores
- The Parent Trap, 1961
- In Search of the Castaways, 1962
- Summer Magic, 1963
- The Sword in the Stone, 1963
- Big Red, 1963
- Mary Poppins, 1964
- The Happiest Millionaire, 1967
- The Jungle Book, 1967
- The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, 1968
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, 1968
- The Aristocats, 1970
- Bedknobs and Broomsticks, 1971
- Snoopy, Come Home, 1972
- Charlotte's Web, 1973
- Tom Sawyer, 1973
- Huckleberry Finn, 1974
- The Slipper and the Rose, 1976
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, 1977
- The Magic of Lassie, 1978
- Magic Journeys, 1982
- Winnie the Pooh and a Day For Eeyore, 1983
- Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, 1992
- The Mighty Kong, 1998
- Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving", 1999
- The Tigger Movie, 2000
- Inkas the Ramferinkas, 2013 (announced)
Motion picture screenplays
- A Symposium on Popular Songs (uncredited), 1962
- Mary Poppins, 1964 (*treatment only, uncredited)
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1973
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1974
- The Slipper and the Rose, 1976
- The Magic of Lassie, 1978
- Blue Echoes, 1982 (*unproduced)
- Ferdinand the Bull, 1986 (*TV screenplay)
- Inkas the Ramferinkas, 2013 (announced)
- Victory Canteen, 1971 (Ivar Theatre, L.A.)
- Over Here!, 1974 (Broadway, NY)
- Dawgs, 1983 (Variety Arts Center, L.A.)
- Busker Alley, 1995 (U.S. Tour)
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, 2002 (London)
- Mary Poppins, 2004 (London)
- On the Record 2004-5 (U.S. Tour)
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, 2005 (Broadway, NY)
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, 2005 (UK Tour)
- Busker Alley, 2006 (Broadway, NY - *one night only)
- Mary Poppins, 2006 (Broadway, NY)
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, 2007 (Singapore)
- Mary Poppins, 2008 (UK Tour)
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, 2008 (Second UK Tour)
- Mary Poppins, 2008 (Stockholm)
- Mary Poppins, 2009 (US Tour)
- Mary Poppins, 2009 (Copenhagen)
- Mary Poppins, 2009 (Budapest)
- Mary Poppins, 2009 (Shanghai)
- Mary Poppins, 2009 (Australia)
- Mary Poppins, 2009 (South Africa)
- Mary Poppins, 2009 (Amsterdam)
- Mary Poppins, 2009 (Helsinki)
- "Merry Go Round", 2011 (Broadway, NY)
Theme park songs
- There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow for Carousel of Progress
- Miracles from Molecules for Adventure Thru Inner Space
- One Little Spark for Journey Into Imagination
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (attraction)
- "it's a small world (after all)" for the 1964 New York World's Fair attraction Pepsi Presents WALT DISNEY'S "it's a small world" - a Salute to UNICEF and the World's Children then adapted to each Disney Park installation of "it's a small world".
- "The Astuter Computer Revue" for the 1982 premiere of the CommuniCore Exhibit at EPCOT.
- Magic Highways for Rocket Rods
- Makin' Memories for Magic Journeys
- The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room for Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room
- "We Meet the World with Love" and Meet the World for the same exhibit in Tokyo Disneyland
- 1965 Won Academy Award in the category of "Best Original Song" for "Chim Chim Cher-ee" from Mary Poppins
- 1965 Won Academy Award in the category of "Best Music, Score - Substantially Original" for Mary Poppins
- 1969 Nominated Academy Award in the category of "Best Original Song" for "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
- 1972 Nominated Academy Award in the category of "Best Music, Original Song" for "The Age of Not Believing" from Bedknobs & Broomsticks
- 1972 Nominated Academy Award in the category of "Best Music, Scoring Adaptation and Original Song Score" for Bedknobs & Broomsticks
- 1974 Nominated Academy Award in the category of "Best Music, Scoring Original Song Score And/Or Adaptation" for Tom Sawyer
- 1978 Nominated Academy Award in the category of "Best Music, Original Song" for "The Slipper and the Rose Waltz" from The Slipper and the Rose
- 1978 Nominated Academy Award in the category of "Best Music, Original Song Score & Its Adaptation Or Best Adaptation Score" for The Slipper and the Rose
- 1979 Nominated Academy Award in the category of "Best Music, Original Song" for "When You're Loved" from The Magic of Lassie
- 2000 Nominated Annie in the category of "Outstanding Individual Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production" for the song "Round My Family Tree" from The Tigger Movie
- 2003 "Winsor McCay Award" for lifetime achievement and contribution to animation
- 1977 Nominated "Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music" for The Slipper and the Rose
- 1977 "Pioneer Award" awarded in Los Angeles, California.
- 1991 "Lifetime Achievement Award" awarded at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, California.
- 1964 "Christopher Award" for "Best Original Song Score" for Mary Poppins
- 1973 "Christopher Award" for "Best Original Song Score" for Tom Sawyer
- 1985 "Mousecar" awarded at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, California in front of 20 thousand people.
- 1990 "Disney Legends" awarded at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California.
- 2010 Main Street, U.S.A. Window presented at Disneyland in Anaheim, California in honor of the Sherman Brothers' contribution to Disney theme parks.
- 1965 Nominated Golden Globe in the category of "Best Original Score" for Mary Poppins
- 1969 Nominated Golden Globe in the category of "Best Original Score" for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
- 1969 Nominated Golden Globe in the category of "Best Original Song" for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
- 1974 Nominated Golden Globe in the category of "Best Original Score" for Tom Sawyer
- 1977 Nominated Golden Globe in the category of "Best Original Score" for The Slipper and the Rose
Golden Videocassette Award
- 1984 Best Selling Video Cassette (of all time) for Mary Poppins
- 1965 Won Grammy in the category of "Best Original Score for a Motion Picture or Television Show" for Mary Poppins
- 1972 Nominated Grammy in the category of "Best Original Score for a Children's Show" for Snoopy Come Home
- 1974 Nominated Grammy in the category of "Best Original Score for a Musical Show" for Over Here!
- 1965 Won "Golden Laurel" in the category of "Best Song" "Chim Chim Cher-ee" for Mary Poppins
- 1965 2nd Place "Golden Laurel" in the category of Music Men"
- 1966 3rd place "Golden Laurel" in the category of "Best Song" "That Darn Cat!" for That Darn Cat!
Moscow Film Festival
- 1973 First Place Award in the category of "Best Music" for Tom Sawyer
National Medal of Arts
- 2008 National Medal of Arts awarded to Richard and Robert Sherman on November 17, 2008 at the White House by President George W. Bush. This is the highest honor the United States Government bestows on artists.
- 2002 Nominated "Best Musical" for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Songwriters Hall of Fame
- 2005 induction at the Marriott Hotel on Times Square in New York City.
Theatre Museum Award
- 2010 Career Achievement Award presented on May 17, 2010 at The Players Club in New York City.
Variety Club Awards
- 2003 Won "Best Musical" for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Walk of Fame
- 1976 A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame awarded to "Richard & Robert Sherman" on November 17, 1976, located at 6914 Hollywood Blvd.
Photos of Robert Sherman