The Madeleine Brand Show

The Madeleine Brand Show is a daily, two-hour program that looks at news and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by Madeleine Brand

Award-winning Disney songwriter Robert Sherman dies at 86

by The Madeleine Brand Show

Robert Sherman (L) with brother Richard Sherman (C), accepting the 2008 National Medal of Arts from President George W. Bush. Gerald Herbert/AP

Robert B. Sherman, who co-wrote Disney's "It's a Small World (After All)," as well as songs for the Disney films "Mary Poppins" and "The Jungle Book," has died. He was 86.

"It's a Small World" has become one of the most translated and performed songs on the planet. It plays on a continual, multilingual loop every few minutes at Disney theme parks across the world — a fact Disney employees are all too aware of.

"We've driven teenagers crazy in every language," quipped Robert Sherman.

Sherman, together with his brother Richard, won two Academy Awards for Disney's 1964 "Mary Poppins," including "Best Original Song" with "Chim Chim Cher-ee":

Son Jeffrey Sherman said his father passed away in London after "months of truly valiantly fighting off death."

"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," Jeffrey continued.

Jeffrey also included a video of his father reciting the first lines of "It's a Small World."

Most of the songs the Shermans wrote — in addition to being catchy and playful — work on multiple levels for different ages, something they learned from Disney.

"He once told us, early on in our career, 'Don't insult the kid — don't write down to the kid. And don't write just for the adult.' So we write for grandpa and the 4-year-old — and everyone in between — and all see it on a different level," Richard Sherman said.

The Sherman brothers also received a Grammy Award for best movie or TV score. Their hundreds of credits also include the films "Charlotte's Web," "The Magic of Lassie" and "Winnie the Pooh":

The brothers' awards include 23 gold and platinum albums and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

With contributions by Andrea Wang

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