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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Small World, Big Impact

“It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears.  It’s a world of hopes and a world of fears. There’s so much that we share, that it’s time we’re aware, it’s small world after all.” – Robert Sherman

If you’ve ever been to Disneyland or Disneyworld, you’ve probably heard these words by Sherman, born on this date in 1925.  It’s the lyrics from the theme song for the popular “Small World” ride and one of many Sherman songs featured throughout the theme parks.

“Small World” was among dozens of successful songs he and brother Richard wrote while working for Disney Studios as Staff Songwriters – a title created by Walt to keep them writing for his films.   Among their most famous was Mary Poppins, for which they won two Academy Awards while convincing Mary’s creator, the cantankerous P.L. Travers, that a song with a nonsensical title would be acceptable.  Thus, their word and song Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious was born.

Sherman started writing at age 16, penning a fund-raising stage play Armistice and Dedication Day – showing how Americans’ lives were changed following the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He also fought in WWII – joining at age 17 – was wounded and won citations for bravery.  Editor-in-chief of his college newspaper, he authored 2 novels – both before graduating – then switched to writing lyrics and the rest is history.   
The Sherman brothers were awarded the National Medal for the Arts for their contribution to our nation’s culture, and Robert was recognized with dozens of major writing awards.  But he said his best “reward” was recognition by children.   Four of his musicals – The Jungle Book, Mary Poppins, The Aristocats and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – rank in the "Top 10 Favorite Children's Films of All Time.”    

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