‘Small World’ songwriter Robert Sherman dies at 86

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LONDON — Robert B. Sherman, one half of the prolific, award-winning pair of brothers who penned instantly memorable songs for “Mary Poppins,” ”The Jungle Book” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” — as well as the most-played tune on Earth, “It’s a Small World (After All)” — has died. He was 86.

Sherman’s agent, Stella Richards, said Tuesday that Sherman died peacefully in London on Monday.

Sherman, together with his brother Richard, won two Academy Awards for Walt Disney’s 1964 smash “Mary Poppins” — best score and best song, “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” They also picked up a Grammy for best movie or TV score.

Their hundreds of credits as joint lyricist and composer also include the films “Winnie the Pooh,” ”The Slipper and the Rose,” ”Snoopy Come Home,” ”Charlotte’s Web” and “The Magic of Lassie.” Their Broadway musicals included 1974’s “Over Here!” and stagings of “Mary Poppins” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” in the mid-2000s.

Son Jeffrey Sherman wrote on Facebook that his father “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,” his son wrote. “Forever his songs and his genius will bring hope, joy and love to this small, small world.

The brothers’ awards include 23 gold and platinum albums and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They became the only Americans ever to win First Prize at the Moscow Film Festival for “Tom Sawyer” in 1973 and were inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2005.

President George W. Bush awarded them the National Medal of Arts in 2008, commended for music that “has helped bring joy to millions.”

“Something good happens when we sit down together and work,” Richard Sherman told The Associated Press in a 2005 joint interview. “We’ve been doing it all our lives. Practically since college we’ve been working together.”

Their awards include 23 gold and platinum albums and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They became the only Americans ever to win First Prize at the Moscow Film Festival for “Tom Sawyer” in 1973 and were inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2005.

President George W. Bush awarded them the National Medal of Arts in 2008, commended for music that “has helped bring joy to millions.”

Alan Menken, composer of scores for Disney films including “The Little Mermaid,” ”Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin,” said the Sherman brothers’ legacy “goes far beyond the craft of songwriting.”

“There is a magic in their songs and in the films and musicals they breathed life into,” he said.

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.

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