Thursday, July 31, 2008

An Evening With Richard Sherman

Richard Sherman with his two Oscars for Mary Poppins.

Disney Cruise Item Number 5

We were fortunate to have been on the same cruise as Richard and Elizabeth Sherman. He doesn't take these that often but Richard had a working vacation cruise with his family which happened to be the same one we were on. One of the evening shows featured him at the piano demonstrating and telling stories about his career in songwriting.

Who is Richard Sherman? The soundtrack of our childhood resonates with beloved songs written by the Sherman Brothers. Richard and his brother Robert. Their career spans almost 50 years and includes two Academy Awards for Walt Disney's "Mary Poppins" - Best Score and "Chim Chim Cher-ee" - Best Song. Other musical honors include three Grammy Awards, 24 gold and platinum albums, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and introduction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

1960 marked the start of a phenomenal multi-year association with film producer Walt Disney, during which time they composed over 150 songs for his films, TV shows, and theme parks. Their Disney credits include the films "Jungle Book," "The Parent Trap," "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," "The Sword in the Stone," "The Aristocats," "The Happiest Millionaire," the "Winnie the Pooh" films, and of course, "Mary Poppins," among many others.

The Sherman Brothers worked directly for Walt Disney until Disney's death in 1966. Since leaving the company, the brother songwriting team has worked freelance on scores of motion pictures, television shows, theme park exhibits, and stage musicals. There is always Sherman Brothers music playing somewhere on the globe through such beloved attractions as "Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room," "It's a Small World" (whose unforgettable and often parodied title song is considered among the most translated and performed songs on earth), "The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh," and "Carousel of Progress".

In 2000, The Sherman Brothers wrote the song score for Disney's blockbuster film: The Tigger Movie. This film marked the brothers first major motion picture for the Disney company in over 28 years.

Since 2002, Robert Sherman has lived in London, England. He moved from Beverly Hills while Richard remained in California. Surprisingly however, the separation has not impeded the brothers collaborative process. The brothers have credited this to the technological advents of fax machines, email, and low cost international telephone service. Also, both brothers travel between Los Angeles, New York, and London frequently which also facilitates their work. Since Robert's move, the brothers have continued to collaborate on various musical plays. Richard Sherman said that he would "never" retire! He loves what he does and that keeps him a young 80 year old.

One afternoon he gave a question and answer meeting where the audience could ask him anything and even get a musical rendition of the song they asked about. One of the most asked question was "How did you make up the word Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? Here is his answer:

"That's a word we sort of concocted from our childhood when we used to make up double talk words. In the screenplay version of Mary Poppins we wanted her to give the children a gift they could bring back with them from inside the chalk drawing when they came out into the real world. If it was a tangible thing like a seashell or pine cone it would disappear. So we said, 'Remember when we used to make up the big double talk words', we could make a big obnoxious word up for the kids and that's where it started. Obnoxious is an ugly word so we said atrocious, that's very British. We started with atrocious and then you can sound smart and be precocious, we had precocious and atrocious and we wanted something super colossal and that's corny, so we took super and did double talk to get califragilistic which means nothing, it just came out that way. That's in a nut shell what we did over two weeks. All together you get Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."

(The above information was found on the internet but he discussed all of this in his meetings.)

Our family had the privilege of running into the Shermans several times and they began to consider us friends. They would stop and talk to us when we met up and even consented to be included in our family picture in our Pirate's makeup for Pirate Theme Night.
Richard & Elizabeth Sherman with Dick & Ann and the Ostranders being pirates!

His last working public appearance on the ship was an autograph session which was scheduled for 45 minutes. It ran 1 hour and 45 minutes. Our granddaughters, Hannah and Rachel, stayed in line holding number 80 (out of 100) until they could get him to sign his autograph and get pictures with him. He took all the time you needed and was very gracious to everyone. His wife, Elizabeth, was there waiting and came over to talk to us once more. They are a very humble couple and someone you would like to know.

Hannah & Rachel with Richard Sherman at autograph session.

The latest DVD version of Mary Poppins has a long addition with Richard Sherman talking, demonstrating, and interviewing giving viewers and insider's look at making the film. Worth picking up for the additional information.

1 comment:

Julie Hibbard said...

I do believe he is also UNCLE to my favorite singer of all time--Bobby Sherman.
Remember Bobby's #1 song?
"Julie Julie Julie do ya love me?"
I truly thought he was singin' to me...
So glad you enjoyed your trip.