Robert Bernard Sherman was born on December 19, 1925, in New York City, to Russian Jewish immigrants, Rosa (Dancis) and Al Sherman. Al Sherman, a songwriter, paid for his son’s hospital delivery costs with a royalty check that arrived that day for the song "Save Your Sorrow". His brother and songwriting partner, Richard, was born in 1928. Sherman's father was a well-known Tin Pan Alley songwriter.
Upon his return to the United States, Sherman attended Bard College in upstate New York where he majored in English literature and painting. Sherman served as editor-in-chief of Bard College’s campus newspaper, The Bardian. At Bard, Sherman completed his first two novels, The Best Estate and Music, Candy and Painted Eggs. He graduated in 1949.
In 1965, the Sherman brothers won two Academy Awards for Mary Poppins, Best Original Score and Best Original Song, "Chim Chim Cher-ee". Since Mary Poppins' premiere, Sherman earned nine Academy Award nominations, two Grammy Awards, four Grammy Award nominations and 23 gold and platinum albums.
Robert and Richard Sherman worked for Walt Disney until Disney's death in 1966. After leaving the company, the brothers worked freelance as songwriters on scores of motion pictures, television shows, theme park exhibits and stage musicals.
Original London cast - "Janes and Michaels". Left to right (Front): Poppy Lee Friar, Jack Montgomery, Perry Millward, Harry Stott, Ben Watton, Jake Catterall, Nicola Bowman. Left to right (BACK): Charlotte Spencer, Faye Spittlehouse, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Robert B. Sherman. (Photo Date: 19 July 2004)
In 2000, the Sherman brothers wrote the score for Disney's blockbuster film The Tigger Movie, their first major motion picture for Disney in more than 28 years.
In 2002, Sherman moved from Beverly Hills to London, England, where he continued to write and paint. In 2003, four Sherman brothers' musicals ranked in the "Top 10 Favorite Children's Films of All Time" in a British poll reported by the BBC. The Jungle Book (1967) ranked at No. 7, Mary Poppins (1964) ranked at No. 8, The Aristocats (1970) ranked at No. 9 and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) ranked at No. 1.
Sherman married Joyce Ruth Sasner in 1953. Their first child, Laurie (b. 1955) was followed by Jeffrey (b. 1957), Andrea (1960-2019) and Robert (b. 1968).
After Sherman's 2002 relocation to London, he and his brother, Richard, continued to collaborate on various musical plays, as well as a feature, animated, film musicals which incorporates their original story, song score and screenplay. The brothers traveled between Los Angeles, New York and London to facilitate their work.
Sherman died in London on March 6, 2012. His wife preceded him in death by 11 years. A public memorial service and funeral was held for Sherman on March 9, 2012 at Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary in Culver City.
A lesser-known aspect of Sherman's life was his painting which he had done since 1941 and kept private, except from his family and friends, until 2002. Sherman studied painting while attending Bard College, receiving a double degree in both Painting and English Literature. Sherman worked in various visual arts media, including clay and metal sculpture, but his focus was oil painting throughout the 1940s-1960s, when he switched to acrylics.
In April 2002, an exhibition of Sherman's paintings was held in London, England, at Thompsons' Gallery on Marylebone High Street. This marked the first public exhibition of his paintings since he started painting in 1941. Sherman exhibited his paintings in Florida and California. A series of Limited EditionGiclées of Sherman's art were published on canvas and paper.
Sherman's paintings which have appeared at the various exhibitions include: "On Route 9G" (c. 1949), "Self Portrait" (1970), "San Francisco (1970)", "Moses" (1977), "Carousel In The Country" (1982), "From the Dining Room (1982)", "Sacrifice" (1983), "Florid Window" (1984), "Geisha (1986)", "Fine Four Fendered Friend (2002)" and "Park Lane" (2003). On March 4, 2007, Sherman and his son, Robbie, donated limited edition prints of "Moses" and "Sacrifice" to the Giffnock Synagogue in Glasgow, Scotland. Sherman worked in metal sculpture, wrote poetry and short stories from an early age.
In 2000, the Sherman Brothers wrote the award-winning score to The Tigger Movie which achieved number one status in both theatrical box office and video sales.
The Sherman Brothers' classic motion picture, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was adapted into a LondonWest EndMusical in 2002 and premiered at the London Palladium on April 16, 2002, featuring many new songs and a reworked score by both Sherman Brothers. It was nominated for a 2003 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best New Musical. The Sherman Brothers each received the "Musical Theatre Award" from the Variety Club of Great Britain that year as well for Chitty.Chitty finished a record breaking, three and a half year run at the Palladium becoming the longest running show in the theatre's century long history. 2004 saw the premiere of Mary Poppins on the stage. In 2005, Poppins was nominated for nine Olivier Awards. In 2005 Chitty went to Broadway and was nominated for 9 Tonys and also began its nationwide (UK) tour.
In May 2009, a documentary called The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story was released. In October 2009, Disney released a 59 track, two CD compendium of their work for the studio spanning forty-two years. The CD is entitled "The Sherman Brothers Songbook".
On May 21, 2011, the Sherman Brothers were each awarded honorary doctorate degrees in Fine Arts from their alma mater, Bard College. This was Robert's second honorary doctorate. His first was granted by Lincoln College on May 12, 1990.
Robert B. Sherman Scholarship
In 2005, Robert Sherman established an annual scholarship award in his name through the BMI Foundation. The awardee is chosen by BMI's Lehman Engel program with some consultation with Sherman. The first awardee was announced in November 2006. Awardees are chosen for their excellence in musical comedy songwriting with an emphasis on lyric writing. Following is a list of the annual winners since the award's inception:
Marking the official UK book launch for Moose, Robert J. Sherman wrote and emceed a two-night cabaret called A Spoonful of Sherman which premiered at the St. James Theatre in London, England on January 6, 2014. The show was billed as "A Celebration of the Life, Times and Songs of Robert B. Sherman" and was received extremely well by the crowd and the critics alike. The show took on a life of its own, subsequently enjoying a "sold out" return engagement later in the year at the same venue. The Original Cast Recording, double CD was produced by Nicholas Lloyd Webber and released by SimG Records in 2015.
"it's a small world (after all)" for the 1964 New York World's Fair attraction Pepsi Presents WALT DISNEY'S "it's a small world" - a Salute to UNICEF and the World's Children then adapted to each Disney Park installation of "it's a small world".
^Cheesman, Neil (December 20, 2017). "First Tour Dates Announced for A Spoonful of Sherman". London Theatre 1. Retrieved December 22, 2017. Robert J Sherman, son of Robert B. Sherman and a successful composer in his own right brings the utterly compelling story of one family’s century-long, award-winning musical journey to UK audiences in 2018.
^Carter, Roz. "REVIEW: A SPOONFUL OF SHERMAN (Greenwich Theatre) ★★★★★". West End Wilma. Retrieved April 10, 2018. The whole show is filled with whimsy, magic and some of the most memorable songs ever written; it does the Sherman family proud. I can’t remember when I spent a more joyful or moving evening at the theatre.