ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.01 - APRIL 2000
Sibling Songs: Richard & Robert Sherman And Their Disney Tunes
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The Sherman Brothers worked with writer/producers Don Dagradi (left) and Bill Walsh (middle) on both Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. © Disney. All Rights Reserved. By working on films like The Jungle Book, the Sherman Brothers were able to work with such famous crooners as Louis Prima. © Disney. All Rights Reserved.
The Shermans wrote all fourteen songs for the score, which has become one of film's most enduring soundtracks. Mary Poppins also brought the brothers Academy Awards for Best Music Score and Best Song ("Chim-Chim-Cheree").
It was another of the film's songs, "Feed the Birds," however, that proved to be Walt's personal favorite. So enamored of the song was Walt, in fact, that he never tired of hearing it.
"On Friday afternoons, Walt would call us over to his office," recalls Richard. "We would talk about what we were working on. Then, he would look out the north window of his office and just say, 'Play it.' He didn't even have to say which song. We would then play the song and sing it for him. He felt very strongly about the song because it meant a lot more than just buying breadcrumbs and feeding birds. It was really about being kind to your fellow man and the fact that it doesn't take much to do that."
(Left to right) Robert Sherman, director Woolie Reitherman and Richard Sherman discuss the music for The Jungle Book. © Disney. All Rights Reserved. The Sherman Brothers provided the music for many of Disneys animated classics like The Jungle Book. © Disney. All Rights Reserved.
In all, the Shermans wrote over 150 songs for Disney. Many of these were featured in the studio's animated films, such as The Sword in the Stone (1963), the Winnie the Pooh featurettes, The Jungle Book (1967) and The Aristocats (1970), for which they cannily coaxed Maurice Chevalier out of retirement to sing the film's title song.
Richard, who for years loved to imitate the singer's throaty French accent, recalls, "When we wrote the song, Woolie Reitherman [Aristocats' director] said that he'd love to get Chavalier to sing it over the main titles, but he had retired. Woolie said, 'Why don't you do that imitation of him?' So, we made the demo that way and sent it to Chevalier and he loved it and agreed to do it. It's actually a real source of pride for us that that song turned out to be the last performance that the great Chevalier ever did."
The brothers' songs were also featured in many of Disney's live-action films and television productions. The Shermans even wrote for a different kind of animation - Audio Animatronics - a technology developed to simulate realistic movement for Disney's theme park attractions.
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