Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 19: Happy B-Day Mr Sherman

Most Disney fans can sing the theme park songs "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow," "it's a small world," and "One Little Spark," and be able to hum (at least some) of the film scores to The Parent Trap, Mary Poppins, and The Jungle Book ... all due to the talents of the great songwriting team of Richard and Robert Sherman. And it is on this day in 1925 that big brother Robert Bernard Sherman was born in New York City.

As a youngster, Robert excelled in music, painting and poetry ... all interests that would later serve him well. But before he and his younger brother Richard teamed up to become an award-winning songwriting duo, Robert served in the U.S. Army during World War II. A little known fact that most Disney fans might not know ... in April 1945 Richard 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. An injury to his knee while in battle forced him to later walk with a cane. For his service to his country, he received an amazing collection of honors including two Battle Stars and a Sharpshooter badge.

Robert and his brother began crafting songs in the mid-1950s which led to forming their own publishing company in 1958. That same year they had their first hit with a pop song sung by Annette Funicello called "Tall Paul." The success of that single tune blew open the doors of success when Walt Disney himself hired the brothers as staff songwriters for his studio.

Their long list of Disney film scores include In Search of the Castaways, Summer Magic, The Happiest Millionaire, The Aristocats, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Their success with Disney's 1964 Mary Poppins was repeated when a stage musical about the British nanny opened on Broadway in 2006.

Robert and his brother have won two Academy Awards, a Grammy, and a Theater Museum Award, in addition to being inducted Disney Legends in 1990 and into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005. The brothers were also awarded the National Medal of Arts at a 2008 ceremony at the White House.

A lesser known aspect of Robert's life is his interest in painting. In 2002 an exhibition of his work was held for the first time in London, England (the same year he decided to leave California and live in the British capital).

Today a father and grandfather, Robert is still active and most recently was presented with a Window on Main Street at Disneyland. As of 2010, his candid autobiographical novel "Moose" is scheduled for worldwide release.

Click HERE for more December 19 Disney history.

No comments: