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WDW Radio # 785 – A Tribute to Richard M. Sherman – From the WDW Radio Archives

Join us as we celebrate the life and legacy of the late Richard M. Sherman, whose music, created with his brother Bob, defined Disney magic and transcended generations. From timeless Disney classics to global anthems like “it’s a small world,” the Shermans’ work has left an indelible mark on entertainment.

In this special episode, I share my personal experiences with Richard, including our first conversation in 2008 and cherished moments during our 2012 WDW Radio group cruise on the Disney Dream. Hear the original interview from WDW Radio Show #80 and honor a composer whose melodies and lyrics have woven joy, nostalgia, and inspiration into countless lives… including ours.

As we bid farewell to Richard M. Sherman, we celebrate a life that brought joy, wonder, and a sense of magic to so many. His legacy will continue to inspire and uplift, echoing in the hearts of every Disney fan forever. Thank you, Richard, for the music, memories, and friendship. You will be missed, but never forgotten.

LIVE video with Richard M. Sherman from the 2012 WDW Radio cruise on the Disney Dream

From Lou…

On May 25, we said goodbye, and thank you to Richard M. Sherman, a man who, along with his brother Bob, created some of the most iconic and enduring music in the history of entertainment. Their work has not only defined eras of Disney magic but has also transcended generations and cultural boundaries, leaving an indelible mark on music and film.

Their songs, specifically with Disney, are not merely popular tunes… they encapsulate the spirit and wonder and magic that we know and love when it comes to Disney, appealing to both children and adults alike. But their music also had greater global impact and influence beyond Disney, with songs like “it’s a small world” still promoting a message of global unity and peace, while other songs having been covered and performed by countless artists, reflecting its universal appeal and timeless quality.

The enduring popularity of the Sherman brothers’ work speaks to its legacy, and cultural lexicon, ingrained in the memories of millions. Their work has been passed down through generations, from parents to their children (speaking for myself as well), becoming a staple of childhood experiences and nostalgic memories for adults.

But what I loved most about the music was how the themes in Richard and Bob’s songs often revolve around optimism, adventure, positivity, understanding, and the magic of imagination. It’s why they continue to resonate so deeply with audiences, offering comfort, inspiration, and inspiring a sense of wonder and joy.

Decades after their initial release, Sherman’s songs have enduring popularity, continuing to be featured in modern Disney theme park attractions, movies, and television shows, ensuring that new generations experience the magic of the brother’s music.

The fact that these songs remain relevant and cherished today underscores their timeless quality. Richard M. Sherman’s work transcends so much because it taps into universal emotions and themes, creating a connection that goes beyond age, culture, and time. His melodies and lyrics are not just songs; they are an integral part of the tapestry of countless lives, weaving joy, nostalgia, and inspiration across the world.

Back in 2008, about 3 years after I started podcasting, I took a chance, and, after some online and old school detective work, found contact information for a man whose work I had not only grown up with, but continued to enjoy, and was starting to share with my own children.

I still remember calling Mr. Sherman at home, and his wife answering the phone. After nervously stumbling over my words to explain who I was and why I was calling, his wonderful wife put me at ease… and we chatted for about half an hour. When I spoke with Richard for the first time, I still remember how warm and friendly he was. I also remember his genuine humility, as he asked me if I was sure if anyone would be interested in hearing him share stories about working with Walt, and creating the tunes which remain wonderfully stuck in our heads.

We arranged a time to speak again, and from that conversation, I am honored to be able to share this interview, which originally aired back on WDW Radio show # 80.

Never did I think we would become friends, and the remarkable experience and private concert we all shared on our group cruise on the Disney Dream in 2012. The private moments he shared with my children are some of the fondest in my life. I still remember him and his wife asking if he could take my children to the evening show in the Walt Disney Theater. Of course, I said yes, and as I started to put down my napkin to accompany them, he put his hand on my shoulder, and told me to enjoy my dinner, and that he and his wife would take great care of my kids. I then watched as they took my children by their little hands, and walked out of Animator’s Palate towards the theater. There was something so… grandparent-like about that moment, and it still brings a joyful tear to my eye.

It was on that same cruise that we were celebrating my daughter’s birthday. I invited some friends to our stateroom for cupcakes, and when Richard and his wife walked in, it was like those same grandparents came in to a family birthday party.

I shared on my Instagram on May 26 some photos, including one from that day, as Richard kneeled down next to my daughter, who was sharing stories from her little pink autograph book. When Richard lead the room singing her Happy Birthday, I understandably lost it. I remember hugging my daughter right after, whispering in her ear to be sure to remember this moment forever… especially when she became a teenager.

Richard joined me on our WDW Radio LIVE video broadcast from the ship that night, and again on WDW Radio show # 135, as we sat down to chat about a new CD featuring a unique compilation of classic songs, performed by the greatest guitarists in the world called Poppin’ Guitars: A Tuneful of Sherman.

Over the years, I had occasion to chat with Richard and his wife, sometimes just receiving a random call out of the blue from him, just asking me how I was doing, about my kids, or the show. I remember calling his house once, assuming they had long forgotten about me, and as I started my lengthly, “you may not remember me, but we did a…” only to be politely cut off with, “Of course I know you, Lou… how are your kids?” I still shake my head in happy disbelief. 

I last spoke to Richard and his wife late last year, and still remember commenting to myself how his voice always seemed to radiate such joy.

I would see photos or videos of Richard at events even after that call, and no matter his age, he still had that unassuming, grandfatherly quality, and captivating smile on his face.

Forgive me or thank you for indulging me here, but I wanted to not only express my feelings and share some stories, but give Richard his due. 

As we bid farewell to this legendary composer and amazing, kind, gentle, and unassuming human being, we celebrate a life that brought joy, wonder, and a sense of magic to countless lives. His legacy, woven into the very fabric of Disney’s timeless storytelling, will continue to inspire and uplift, and will last forever.

In the heart of every Disney fan, the melodies of Richard and his brother will forever echo.

Thank you, my friend, for the music, memories, inspiration, and friendship. You will be missed, but never forgotten. I promise to continue to “feed the birds” in your honor. 🕊️💙

Timestamped Overview

  • [00:00] Introduction
  • [06:05] Nervous call, friendly chat, honored to share.
  • [16:46] Sherman brothers – Disney music and film legacy.
  • [20:08] Bob and I wrote hit songs for Annette.
  • [26:53] Bob and I turned book chapters into story.
  • [31:47] Writing for diverse assignments was exciting and challenging.
  • [34:30] Walt Disney inspired optimistic song with meaning.
  • [42:15] You and your brother made a masterpiece.
  • [47:31] Father’s lesson: Fly your own kite.
  • [51:23] Cubby Broccoli acquires Ian Fleming’s magical car.
  • [57:22] First theme park song; magical, tropical experience.
  • [01:02:27] Songwriting experience for Maurice Chevalier’s movie scene.
  • [01:08:55] Adaptable approach to singing as storytelling.
  • [01:14:29] Wrote music for many iconic films and books.
  • [01:18:32] Grateful for music that shaped me profoundly.
  • [01:25:25] Chimney sweep finds luck in unexpected places.
  • [01:30:47] “Tomorrow holds dreams becoming reality for all.”

What is your favorite Sherman Brothers song? Why?

Share your thoughts in the WDW Radio Clubhouse at WDWRadio.com/Clubhouse, or call the voicemail at 407-900-9391 (WDW1) and share your story on the show.


Episode Transcript

Click Here To Read The Full Podcast Episode Transcript

Lou Mongello:
Hello my friend, and welcome to another episode from the WW Radio archives. I am Lou Mangello and this is show number 785. And this. And every week I'm gonna share an evergreen episode from the archives with you that maybe you haven't heard before, or one that you haven't heard in a long time. From interviews to top tens, relevant reviews, guides, wayback machines and more, it's a great way to visit or revisit some of our favorite episodes, including ones that you've suggested I share from the archives. So I'm going to open up the archives again this week. But before I do, I want to offer my sincerest apology.

Lou Mongello:
I know it has been a few weeks since I was able to publish a new episode, and for that I am incredibly sorry. That has never, ever happened before and I promise you it will never happen again. I've been traveling extensively, first for our WW radio adventures by Disney to London and Paris, which I promise I will recap and review on an upcoming show. Then a few days in Disneyland Paris, which I will have much more to share from on an upcoming episode. Then a canceled flight home from Paris, and then right into the first ever preview cruise to look out key at Lighthouse Point, which I will also discuss on an upcoming show and do a live Q and A on a Wednesday night WW radio live. From there, I went right into a media event the next morning for Epcot and Tiana's bio adventure. And you guessed it, I will have much more to share and take your questions live on a Wednesday night show. But wait, there's more because the following morning I was a keynote speaker for a group of students about lessons they can learn from Walt Disney.

Lou Mongello:
I hopped on a train right after that to South Florida for a corporate event where I was the keynote speaker, sharing lessons they can learn and apply from the Disney parks on customer service and experience, and then right back to Orlando for another event. And here we are. And I share that with you only to help you understand the why behind there not being a new show in the past couple of weeks. But as I said, it will not happen again. I am so, so sorry and I appreciate your patience, your understanding and your friendship. Now, with that being said, back on May 25, we said goodbye and thank you to Richard M. Sherman, a man who, along with his brother Bob, created some of the most iconic and enduring music in not just Disney history, but I really think the history of entertainment their work hasn't only defined eras of Disney magic, but really is also transcended generations and cultural boundaries and left an indelible mark on both music and film. Because their songs, specifically with Disney, aren't merely just popular tunes, they encapsulate that spirit and that wonder and the magic that we know and love when it comes to Disney and continue to appeal to both kids and adults alike.

Lou Mongello:
But I also think that their music had greater global impact and influence beyond the Disney parks and movies, with things like it's a small world continuing to promote that message of global unity and peace when we need it most, while other songs have been covered and performed by countless artists, which reflect not just their universal appeal, but their continuing timeless quality. And I think that enduring popularity of the Sherman brothers works speaks to their legacy and cultural lexicon, which is honestly like, it's ingrained in the memories of millions of people. And their work continues to be passed on, like, from generation to generation, from parents to their children. Speaking for myself as well, and for a lot of us, they become, and have been sort of staples of childhood experiences and nostalgic memories. But I think what I loved most about the music was how the themes in Richard and Bob's songs often revolve around optimism and adventure and positivity and understanding and the magic of imagination. And it's why they continue to resonate so deeply with us. They offer comfort, they offer inspiration, and, I think, a sense of wonder and joy. And decades after their initial release, their songs continue to have enduring popularity.

Lou Mongello:
They're still featured and enjoyed in modern Disney theme park attractions and movies and tv shows. And ensuring that new generations of Disney fans continue to experience the magic of the brothers music. And the fact that these songs remain relevant and cherished today underscores that timeless quality. And I think the Sherman's work transcends so much because it taps into emotions and themes that are universal and create a connection that goes beyond any sort of defining age or culture or time. And I do like, I think that they just weave joy and nostalgia and inspiration, no matter who you are or where you're from. And this week's show is one that goes back a number of years, because back in 2008, which is about three years or so after I started podcasting, I took a chance, like, a huge leap of faith and something I was very, very nervous about doing. And after some online and old school detective work, right, this is 2008, very pre social media, I was able to track down contact information for the man whose work I had not only grown up with, but continued to enjoy and then was starting to share with my own kids. And I still remember, like the day that I called Mister Sherman.

Lou Mongello:
I still call him Mister Sherman. It's just a respect thing. And his wife answered the phone and I very nervously stumbled over my words to try and explain somewhat succinctly, like, who I was and why I was calling and what a podcast is. And his wonderful, beautiful, amazing wife just put me at ease so quickly, and we ended up chatting for about a half an hour. And then when I spoke with Richard for the first time, I still remember how warm and how friendly he was to me and his genuine humility. Like, he asked me if I was sure that anybody would be interested in hearing him share stories about working with Walt and creating the music, which remains wonderfully stuck in our heads. And I remember this is pre d 23, so I wanted to be like Mister Sherman, Richard, which he insisted that I was like, don't you know who you are? So we arranged to speak again. And from that conversation, I am honored to once again be able to share this.

Lou Mongello:
It's not even an interview. It's a conversation which originally aired back on WWE show number 80 in 2008. From that conversation, never, ever did I think that we would become friends. And the remarkable experience and private concert that we all shared on our WW radio group cruise on the Disney dream in 2012. It wasn't just the moments that he and we had with him in this very intimate concert just for us in the Walt Disney Theater, and have this photo and this image in my mind's eye of sitting at the end of the piano with him, just watching him as he shared stories only for us. And the moments that he shared individually with everyone in the community who was on that cruise. And there was nearly 500 of us. But most of all, I.

Lou Mongello:
I remember the private moments he had with my kids, which are still some of the fondest in my life, especially when it comes to Disney. I remember he sat at our table for dinner, and I remember he and his wife asking, as we were finishing, if he could take my children to the evening show in the Walt Disney Theater. I was a little surprised, but I said, of course. I said yes. And as I started to put down my napkin to stand up to join them, he put his hand on my shoulder and he told me to enjoy my dinner, have dessert, have a cup of coffee, and that he and his wife would take great care of my kids. I then watched as they took my children by their little hands and walked out of animator's palette towards the theater. And there was something so grandparent like about that moment. It still brings, like, this joyful tear to my eyes.

Lou Mongello:
And it was on that same cruise, it was in November that we were celebrating my daughters and Mickey's. They shared the same birthday on November 18 birthday. And I had invited some friends to our stateroom for, you know, cupcakes and a little cake. And when Richard and his wife surprised really everybody and walked in, it was like those same grandparents came into a family birthday party. Just, there was no air about them. They were just such regular people. And I shared on my instagram back on May 26, the day that Richard passed some photos, including one from that day, as I have a great shot of Richard. He kneeled down next to my daughter, who was sharing these stories from her little pink autograph book.

Lou Mongello:
And when he led the room singing her happy birthday, I understandably lost it. And I remember hugging my daughter so tightly right after. And I whispered in her ear to be sure to remember this moment forever, especially when she became a teenager. Richard then joined me on a live video broadcast from the ship. That night, we did another interview again on show 135. A year or so later, we sat down to talk about a cd that had just come out, featuring a compilation of classic songs performed by some of the greatest guitarists in the world called Poppin guitars, a tuneful of Sherman. And over the years, I had occasion to see and chat on the phone with Richard and his wife. And sometimes I would just receive a random call out of the blue from him.

Lou Mongello:
So imagine me sitting at dinner, and the phone rings, and on my caller id, it says, richard Sherman. Just to ask me how I was doing or about my kids or about the show. I remember calling his house once, and I assumed that they had long forgotten about me. And so I started my lengthy, well, you may not remember me, but we did. A and to be very politely cut off with, of course I know you, Lou. Like, how are your kids? And I shake my head on happy disbelief. And I share that story with you because it's not about me and it's not about my kids, but it goes to the type of person that he was and that his wife still is. And I spoke with Richard and his wife late last year, and I still remember commenting internally to myself how his voice just always seemed to radiate such joy, such happiness.

Lou Mongello:
And I would see photos and videos of Richard at events and things like that after that call. And no matter his age, he always had that unassuming, that same grandfatherly quality. And that captivating smile on his face. Please forgive me or thank you for indulging me here and sharing some of these personal stories that I just felt like I needed to get out and express my feelings and share these and also obviously give Richard his due. Because this is about Richard. And as we bid farewell to this legendary composer and this amazing, kind, gentle and unassuming human being, we really celebrate a life that continues to bring joy and wonder and a sense of magic to countless lives. And his legacy continues to be woven into the very fabric of Disney's timeless storytelling and I think will continue to inspire and uplift and will last forever. And I think in the heart of all of us who are Disney fans, the melodies of Richard and his brother Robert will forever echo.

Lou Mongello:
So thank you, Richard, for the music and the memories and the inspiration and the friendship. And you will be and are already missed, but I promise you will never be forgotten. And I promise to continue to feed the birds in your honor. I'd love to know from you what is your favorite Sherman Brothers song and why you can please come over, share your thoughts about your favorite Sherman Brothers song, your favorite Sherman Brothers memory, or a movie, or a moment over in the clubhouse at ww radio.com clubhouse. Better yet, you can call the voicemail. I'll play it on the air. Share your stories or your thoughts or your memories of Richard at 04:07 909 three nine one. That's 04:07 900 w one.

Lou Mongello:
You can also connect with me on social. I am on Jello, on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. And please visit lumangelo.com. if you are looking for a speaker, or if you are a creator, entrepreneur, or solopreneur looking to take your business, your brand or idea to the next level, find out some of the ways we can work together, including my momentum series of events and weekend workshop this fall in Walt Disney World. But for now, sit back, relax and enjoy this week's very special episode from the Archives on the WW radio show. And if you haven't already, please go watch the boys on Disney. A very beautiful, intimate journey through the lives of Richard and Robert Sherman. Enjoy.

Dick Van Dyke:
It's a world of after, a world of in a most delightful way.

Lou Mongello:
Spark of inspiration.

Richard M. Sherman:
You can set music back through the.

Music 1:
Game and they Zajada jump rose in Jim Jiminy. Jim Jiminy Jim Jim Cherie. There's a great big beautiful tomorrow.

Lou Mongello:
As I've always said, everything we see and experience in Walt Disney World is about a story. And it's a story that's being told to us a story that we're an interactive part of. And story has always been of primary importance, not just in the parks, but of course in the movies. And the concept of good storytelling first came from Walt Disney himself. And an integral part of that storytelling in both films and in the parks is unquestionably the music. It sets a mood, immerses and inspires us and in many cases defines a film, a show or an attraction. And its what connects us. And for so many people, its one of the reasons they love disney the way they do, maybe even makes us believe in that Disney magic that we talk about as if it's a tangible thing.

Lou Mongello:
And the name that for decades has been synonymous with Disney music and classic films and theme park attractions is none other than the Sherman brothers. And their credits read like a best of of Disney films, television shows and attractions, having written more musical scores for motion pictures than any other songwriting team in history, including timeless classics like, you know, the music from Mary Poppins, the Jungle Book, the Aristocats, the Tigger movie, theme park attractions like it's a small world, there's a great big beautiful tomorrow, so many songs from Epcot's Imagination Pavilion, the Tiki Room and countless others. In 1965, they won two Academy Awards for Mary Poppins. They received nine additional Academy Award nominations, two Grammy awards, four additional nominations, tony nominations. They've had number one pop songs and an astounding 23 golden platinum albums. So today, it is my absolute honor to be able to chat with a true Disney legend and one of the brothers from that creative team that has changed the world with their music. Richard M. Sherman and Mister Sherman, I want to thank and welcome you to the WDW radio show.

Richard M. Sherman:
Oh, thank you, Jay. It's great to be here and talking to you, and I'm looking forward to whatever questions you're going to ask me. So. Shoot.

Lou Mongello:
Well, you know, that's the thing with so much that I want to talk to you about, it's almost difficult to find a place to begin. So maybe let's start with the simplest question, which would be how did you and your brother start to become, to work together and become a songwriting team?

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, actually, it was almost inevitable. Our father was a wonderful songwriter. His name was Al Sherman. And Al Sherman, in the twenties, thirties and into the forties, was writing hit songs. Very big songs that today many of them are forgotten, but some of them still linger. Like the famous football song, you got to be a football hero. That's one of his, you know, it's a wonderful, wonderful song. And for the great Eddie Kantor, he wrote now's the time to fall in love.

Richard M. Sherman:
Potatoes a teeper, tomatoes a teeper. The older generation would know those songs. They were big, big popular hits. And I got the bug, I guess, to be a songwriter. When I was in college, I started writing songs for college shows, things like that. And my brother was going to write the great american novel. He wanted to be a writer, and I wanted to write music and lyrics for plays and shows. And what happened was, after college, we both were living in a little tiny apartment, and my brother was writing the great american novel and digging a hole in the ground, and I was writing the great american musical and digging a hole in the ground.

Richard M. Sherman:
And our dad came up, he was this pop tune writer, and he said, I bet you guys couldn't write a popular song that some kid would give up his lunch money for to buy a record. And it was like a challenge. But he sensed that if we sort of cooled our wits and actually worked together as a team, we come up with strong ideas for pop songs. And so that's where it all started. And it truly is this a song, a good song, has a story in it, and you always have to dig for that story, that angle, before you start going. I think that's the thing that attracted Walt Disney to our songwriting, is that we always had a kind of a hook, an angle. It wasn't just a straight ahead statement. It was a song that had either a question in it that made you think, or a statement that made you think, a hook.

Richard M. Sherman:
And basically, that's what Bob and I did. We started writing pop songs, and through sheer luck, a little girl named Annette Funicello recorded a song of ours called Tall Paul back in 1958, only 50 years ago. And that song in 1959 became a top ten song, a big hit. And Annette, who was Mouseketeer for the Disney organization, needed new songs. And so they, the publishers at Disney Company, asked us, do we have any more songs for Annette? And of course, we wrote song after song for her and made many records with her. And little did we know this, but she was one of the pets of Walt's organization, and he had discovered her and was listening to all of the songs that she recorded. And basically what happened was he said he was going to put her into a film. And he said, those two young fellas that are writing these cute songs, I like to meet them.

Richard M. Sherman:
Maybe they put a song into this picture. I'm going to put a net in, because she's now so popular with songs that's how we met the great man. And that sort of brings you up to a very crucial part of our lives. And that's when we met Walt Disney.

Lou Mongello:
And what was that first meeting like? You know, you're told now that you're going to be brought before Walt Disney, who obviously, at the time, you know, was so successful with what he was doing. Tell me, what was that first meeting like for you?

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, I can remember very vividly what it was like because it was amazing. We walked into this, the office. We didn't realize we were going to play the song for Disney himself. We played it for this executive, music executive, and he said, yeah, that sounds like a great song for the picture. We got to play it for the boss. And I said, well, who's the boss? They said, well, Walt Disney, of course. So I said, you mean we're going to play for this icon? We never realized we'd ever meet the man. And so we just were in this office.

Richard M. Sherman:
And so he brought us into the actual offices of Walt Disney, and he was sitting behind a desk, very occupied, writing, signing some autographs or something like that. And his opening line to us, are you fellows really brothers, or are you just sort of using that name? Because when I was in vaudeville, we used to have brother acts, and we never were brothers. It completely threw us because he was so funny and sort of friendly. And he said, oh, no, no, we really have the same parents. And Mister Disney, he says, no, call me Walt. Call me Walt. He didn't like to be called Walt, mister Disney. So then he said, now, let me tell you about this picture.

Richard M. Sherman:
And he launched into describing a picture that had nothing to do with the film that we were written this song for. He was describing what became the parent trap, the Haley Mills picture. But we had written a song for a picture called the Horse Masters for Annette Fulicello. So he was into this long description of this picture, and my brother, who's very brave, Bob, he said, mister Disney, walt, he said, we have come with a song for Annette Funicello. We don't know about this other picture. So he says, oh, well, why did you let me go on like this? How do you tell this man, this world famous man, that you're talking about the wrong picture? Stop him. So he just said, okay, let's go to the other room and let's hear the song. So I played this song, the Strummond song for him, this little song we've written for Annette.

Richard M. Sherman:
And he said, which is typical of Disney, he said, that'll work. Now, I wasted a lot of time on this other thing. So he actually had given us a huge compliment, because Walt never said anything more than that'll work to people that were working for him because he didn't want to spoil him. He never said, wonderful, great, perfect. He would just say, that'll work. But at that time, we thought, well, that was kind of a put down for this song. We'd. Who really worked hard to get the right song for that picture.

Richard M. Sherman:
So basically, he started on this other picture, and he handed us a script, and the script was called we belong together. And that was the picture that became the parent trap, which was our very first Disney major picture that we had done.

Lou Mongello:
Yeah, I tried to imagine what that must be like, and then hearing the story about how, you know, you don't want to interrupt the man as he's on a roll, but, you know, we'll talk specifically about some of the films you worked on and some of the attractions, but you worked for Disney during really what was a golden age for the studios? What was it like working with and for Walt Disney, maybe. What are some of your fondest memories during that time?

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, I'd say that the thing about working at the Disney studio under Walt was this. He was a member of the team. He was a. A great spark plug, a listener, a remarkable listener. He could discern what would work and what wouldn't work. He inspired everybody that worked for him, and everybody was trying so hard to please the boss. I mean, that was the whole thing. And if he told you a story, it was the most important story that ever was told by humankind, because he had this ability to hypnotize you, to get you so excited about some episode of Zorro or something that you just would kill yourself to write the perfect number for it or write the perfect dialogue if you were a script writer or design the perfect setting for if you were a setting designer.

Richard M. Sherman:
I mean, the whole thing was. He was hypnotic about the way he inspired people, and it was great. It was wonderful working for him. He never talked about how much it's going to cost, and this is the bottom line, and this is the blue, this is this and that. He never talked about that. It just the quality of the product, and that's all he cared about. That abruptly changed when Walt passed away. It totally changed.

Richard M. Sherman:
But when he was alive, nobody ever thought about anything with doing a great job on the product.

Lou Mongello:
And obviously, like you said, we keep talking about story, and story was really of paramount importance to Walton, I assume, for you and your brother, as well as you were writing the songs?

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, I think basically the key to our getting jobs as staff writers for Walt Disney was our sense of story, because all good songs, as I said earlier, have good story in them, good hook lines. And when we were handed eventually a book called the Stories of Mary Poppins by Pamela Travers, Walt Disney knew full well that there was no storyline in the Mary Poppins books. They were just episodes. There were wonderful, wonderful episodes where they were incredibly delightful character, Mary Poppins. And they had each self contained storyline. So each chapter was another adventure, but there was no through line. Nothing really happened to the family. It's just that Mary Poppins would come into the banks household, have wonderful adventures with the children, and fly away again.

Richard M. Sherman:
So Bob and I, when we were handed this book, because one day he handed us the book after we had done about six or seven assignments that he had given us, and he liked them all, he said, read this and tell me what you think. He didn't say, I need a song for this sequence, or, I need a title song for this movie. He just said, read this and tell me what you think. And Bob and I read the books, and we were thrilled by the fact that he gave us a book to read. And secondly, we were kind of disappointed because there was no storyline. So we said, let's take six chapters of these two juicy. Six juicy chapters that we saw were really outstanding, put them together and make a story out of it. Let's say there's a problem in the family.

Richard M. Sherman:
Let's just say the father's not paying attention to the kids, and the mother's off busy doing her things. And so Mary Poppins is needed. So she comes into the family and she changes things. She gives little life lessons to the kids and to the family itself, and unites that family so that when she flies away, she's done a job. This was our concept, and we came in with a story concept, not just some song ideas or. Yeah, that's good, Walt. It could be something. We came in with a real idea, and also we came in with a period.

Richard M. Sherman:
We changed the stories from the thirties, which was depression England, back to the turn of the century, when it was still colorful and charming and english music hall style songs could be used. We came in with all these ideas. And so we weren't just songwriters for him. We were story men. And when we sat down and talked about this project of what it could possibly be, that's the day he said, you fellas really like to work? We said, we sure do. Walt. And he said, well, how do you like to work here? Of course, we would flipped. We flipped.

Richard M. Sherman:
We said, oh, my God, yes, we'd love to. And that was August, I think it was, of 1960. And so from that point on, we were the staff writers and we worked on everything, but it was always story, story, story. I mean, that was what it was all about. And that was the key to our being successful at Disney.

Lou Mongello:
And I think that's the fascinating part, is that you weren't just songwriters. You were really involved in the creative process of the films themselves. And I think that's why the songs work so well.

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, thank you. That's very nice for you to say that. But actually, we were very fortunate so that we weren't just, like, augmenting or adding something to a. A film. We were actually helping to paint the picture in our way. And sometimes it was merely a title song for a film, or sometimes it was a whole musical with storytelling throughout and character development throughout. It all depended on the project. Each project was different.

Richard M. Sherman:
And all we did about 36 films at the Disney studio in those years, and then we subsequently came back and did others. But our tenure there was very, very, let's say, prolific. We worked every day and we loved it.

Lou Mongello:
Well, you know, going back to stories and writing for the films, is it fair to say, maybe that you wrote songs for the characters in the film, say, as opposed to the actors themselves, even though you had the benefit of working and writing for people like Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke and Louis Prima?

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, you're absolutely right. You said it all. I'll just repeat what you said and say this. We wrote for the character. We never wrote for the actor. On rare occasions, when we were told, we're going to have Maurice Chevalier in a film, we need a number for him, we could hear his voice when we were doing it. But when all the songs from Mary Poppins and in Jungle Book, when Louis Prima sings I want to be like you, I mean, we had no idea Louis Prima was going to do it. All we knew was that we were writing about this eight and we had to write a funny song about a scary ape and make him to be fun instead of scary.

Richard M. Sherman:
And so we made him the king of the swingers and that give us.

Music 1:
A jazz number and be just like the other men.

Richard M. Sherman:
I'm tired of all going around. I mean, these are things. We just wrote the song. And when we were finished with the song, then we would talk with Walt and we would talk with the other producers and directors about casting and then when we found the cast of the personality we wanted, we'd come and test him and make sure he was right. So all these things are ingredients in the creation of the film. But in the case of the Sherman brothers, writing for Disney, 95% of all the songs we wrote, we wrote for the character and not for the actor.

Lou Mongello:
All right, well, around the same time as Mary Poppins, you know, early to mid sixties, the 1964 65 World's Fair is approaching, and you were asked to write for two attractions, the carousel of progress. And it's a small world. And I'm going to ask you about each of these individually, but first, tell us about maybe the challenge of being presented with writing for an attraction versus writing for a motion picture.

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, each and every assignment that we had was individual into itself. Because if you're going to have to write for a stuffed teddy bear or a tiger, you know, who's called Tigger, and jumps around, it's just as much of a challenge as to write for a concept that's a carousel of progress that's going to be putting people into this auditorium that swings around so that there are seven different or six different stories that are being told. Each one of these was an individual challenge, and it was fun. I mean, it was great because we never knew what we were going to do one day. The next day, I recall the first challenge was the carousel of progress. They were constructing this for the world's fair. It was going to be sponsored by General Electric, and it was going to tell the story of how electricity has changed man's life and how we came from an ice cube sitting in a bathtub for cooling the house to electronic devices. You know, it was just remarkable how.

Richard M. Sherman:
How this was done and depicted. It would take me 2 hours to even describe it. But let me just say we were given an assignment by Walt to write a song that would tell the story of, with broad strokes of how life has changed through man's ingenuity, man's reaching further and challenging the envelope and going further. And we had to have a kind of a song that would change in period from the turn of the century, which would be ragtime, to the jazz age, which would be a jazz music, to the swing period, which would be the thirties and forties, the big band era, and into the sixties, which was when. When this would be the current day at that time. And that would be the sweet music, like sort of Montanavani strings and things. So basically, one song could be played in different guises, different arrangements. And so all these were little buttons that were pressed to us.

Richard M. Sherman:
And then he said, and I need it yesterday because you always needed it right away. And so we would write a song. Now, I remember vividly the inspiration for there's a great big beautiful tomorrow, which is the theme song for the Ge Pavilion, which was the carousel of progress. And that was. We started. We were talking about it, and he said, well, another one of Walt's big dreams, and then we have to sit there and create something for him. So he said, well, walt has a dream, and that's the start. Now, we started with that, and he said, well, we can't ever say that in a song, but if you listen closely to the lyric, there's a line that goes, man has a dream, and that's the start.

Richard M. Sherman:
He follows his dream with mind and heart, and when it becomes a reality, it's a dream come true for you and me. That's all part of the lyric of there's a great big beautiful tomorrow. And so, basically, Walt Disney was the inspiration to the wellspring that gave us the key to writing that song, and he loved it. He liked the play on the bees, great big beautiful tomorrow and shining at the end of every day. Very optimistic, because Walt was definitely an optimistic man. He liked to look at the bright side of things, and it was Walt's song, and he loved the song very much. Of course, he never said anything, but that'll work to us. But to everybody else, they wrote the perfect number for this, you know? And that was it.

Richard M. Sherman:
That was Walt's way. And then that was the one song for the world fair, which became permanent attraction at the. At the parks. And then the other song that we wrote was, it's a small world, after all. And here we were like troubleshooters, because they had this incredibly beautiful concept of a boat ride through the watery. Audio animatronics dolls, all beautifully gowned and costumed, singing. And they were singing national anthems of the various countries. That was the concept on paper.

Richard M. Sherman:
And they put. And they started recording these voices to do that. And as you can imagine, it was an absolute disaster, because if you walk through this, it was not boats at the time. It was a mockup. And you'd walk through the serpentine trail and listening to these voices, the first three or four groups were kind of charming and delightful, and all of a sudden, you heard nothing. It was all swishing together, and it was cacophony. And so Bob and I were called in to come up with a simple song that could be translated into any language. And it had to have sort of simple repetitions in it.

Richard M. Sherman:
And so we were told, write the simplest possible song to sing the most you possibly can. And it was a salute to the children of the world. And it was called UNIcEf salute to the children of the world. I think that was. There was a working title of it, and we said, walt, can we come up with something better than that? He said, well, yeah, if you can. But remember, it's about the small children of the world. They're the hope of the future. And that he gave us that to start with.

Richard M. Sherman:
And so we came up with this concept. It's a small world after all let's not blow each other up let's learn to respect each other and love each other. And that's what we're saying. Without saying those words. We just said, it's a small world after all it's a world of laughter and a world of tears a world of hopes and a world of fears there's so much that we share it's time we're aware it's a small world after all that's what we said in the song. And if you hear it as a jingle, you want to shoot us. But if you hear it slowly and hear the words, you say, hey, it is a prayer for peace, isn't it? And that's what we wrote. And it became kind of.

Richard M. Sherman:
Of the, I'm told, the most performed song in the world, with all the parks that's playing it all the time, and everybody knows it, which makes me feel very happy.

Lou Mongello:
Yeah. And I have to admit, to hear you sort of. To hear the person that wrote the words somewhat say, and saying the words really is a privilege. And, you know, those four words, even with all the amazing things that you and your brother have done, sort of immortalized you. Correct me if I'm wrong. The original way that you had written the song, you had originally thought about it to be performed in somewhat of a different style, correct?

Richard M. Sherman:
Oh, definitely. When we first wrote the song, when you write anything, you don't write it fast and in tempo. You write it slowly and carefully. And we were playing it and singing it, and Bob was coming up with wonderful words for it, and I was coming up with words on it. We were both working on the music because we collaborated on everything. We actually were writing it like a prayer for peace and there is just one moon and one golden sun and a smile means friendship to everyone there's so much though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide it's a small world after all that's what we're saying. Let's be loving and kind and reach out to people. But we didn't say reach out to people and loving, kind.

Richard M. Sherman:
We just sort of imply it because Walt would never want us to lay it down like a trowel. Just put it on with a feather. And so we just implied that he loved implied ideas. It was always. He was very quick to grasp an idea. Like a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Has nothing whatever to do with sugar and medicine. It has to do with an attitude.

Richard M. Sherman:
If you have a bright attitude about something, a sweet attitude, a tough job becomes easier. You look at the bright side of it. Feed the birds, toughen some bag. Has nothing to do with the price of breadcrumbs. At two pennies to buy bread crumbs, it says, it doesn't take much to be kind and do a kind deed to give love, it costs nothing. Tuppence, it's nothing, no money. It's just giving it from yourself, from your heart. But we don't say those words.

Richard M. Sherman:
We just say, feed the birds, tuppence a bag. And the implication was there. He always dug the fact that we imply things. And the same thing with small world. It's a small world after all, and the after all is the hook.

Lou Mongello:
And you obviously followed your father's advice, which was to keep it simple, to keep it singable, but most of all, keep it sincere.

Richard M. Sherman:
Oh, my goodness. You really are a researcher. That was great. Yeah, that's exactly what he said to us when we were young guys starting out. And he made the challenge. He said, keep it simple, singable and sincere. And as he was walking out the door, and he says, and make it original. That was it.

Richard M. Sherman:
And so he'd always guide us in those early years until we finally got the right angle on things. I remember we had written many, many songs. It was country music was very big back in the early fifties. And we finally wrote a song, which we had a hook on, and he liked the hook. And that was. We wrote a song, a blatant line, gold can buy anything. And then we had a codicil, honestly. But love.

Richard M. Sherman:
Gold can buy anything but love. And he says, now you have a hit song. Now you have a possibility of a hit song. Go out and try to sell that one. And that was our very first published song. It wasn't a hit, but it did get published.

Lou Mongello:
And really, in addition to it's a small world, really two other very small words that really define, to a certain degree, your work is obviously Mary Poppins?

Richard M. Sherman:
Oh, yeah. Well, that was a major, major jump for Bob and myself. You know, we had never done a full musical score. We had pictures with songs in them, and we'd had popular song hits and a couple of big ones. But the thing is that this was a giant, giant step forward for us. And, of course, it put us into the position of writing musical film, and that's what we started doing. From then on, most of our pictures were musicals, but Mary Poppins was the perfect cast, the perfect creative team. I mean, my praise goes out to so many people involved in that film from Bill Walsh and Don de Grati, who did this incredible script, and Walt himself, who was hands on the whole time, pushing everybody and pushing and creating the final product, and Peter Ellen show, who did the incredible mat artist, who did the mat.

Richard M. Sherman:
So there in Burbank, California, we were in edwardian England because of his artistic creativity. I mean, there were so many people that contributed, and I haven't even mentioned this superlative cast with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke and Glynis Johns and David Tomlinson, all these wonderful people that were part of our cast. It was a labor of great love and great talent on many, many parts. And Bob and I were lucky enough to be the songwriters. We really love, working on it and helping with the story, because that's what we did.

Lou Mongello:
Well, I applaud you for crediting so many other people, but I have to say that what you did and what your brother did on this work made this film the timeless classic that it remains. And to your credit, in addition to receiving your oscar, you also coined a word that's a staple of every Disney fan's vocabulary. You put it to song, and you have to. You have to allow me to just step through the songs that you wrote for the film so as not to minimize your impact on it. A spoonful of sugar, jolly holiday I love to laugh chim chim, feed the birds step in time, stay awake, Sister Suffragette a man has dreams the life I lead let's go fly a kite one of my personal favorites, fidelity Fiduciary bank, the perfect nanny, and, of course, supercalifragilistic XP halidocious. I don't think that I am exaggerating when I say that what you did qualifies as a true masterpiece.

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, you're very, very kind to say that, and I'm very proud of it. I know Bob is, and we feel that it was a big, big leap forward for our career, and we were very lucky, I think, to have a boss like Walt Disney, who helped select what we were going to finally wind up in the film. Because, you see, as we developed this film film, we were developing many of the chapters that we were exploring to see which other chapters he might use. And so a lot of songs were written for the film that we never used. And we. Some of them found their life in another. In another film, and we changed them a little bit and used them someplace else. But basically, the songs that were selected were really the very cream of all the things we were doing.

Richard M. Sherman:
And they really were story. Each song had a story. Part of the story was being told through the song. And I think the key to a really good musical is if you don't have the songs, you don't have a picture. And I think that that's what we had here. We had hunks of the story. I mean, just huge hunks of dialogue were just sung, and people didn't even realize they were hearing songs performed when they were doing it because it was so woven into the film. And that one of my favorites of all the songs in the picture, two reprises that were used near the end of the film.

Richard M. Sherman:
When the father and Bert have a conversation, and the father is. He feels his life is falling apart because he's been fired from the bank for causing a ruckus. There was a run on the bank because the little boy didn't want to invest his tuppence in the bank. And so everything falls apart, and he's very sad and upset. And he says, a man has dreams of walking with giants to carve his niche in the edifice of time. And then he's feeling sorry for himself, and he says, it's Mary Poppins. She's the one that caused all this trouble. And then Burt pipes in and says, oh, yeah, she's the one who sings a spoonful of sugar.

Richard M. Sherman:
That's all it takes. Changes bread and water into tea and cakes. These are tea and cakes, indeed. And they're having this conversation. It's all sung. The whole thing is musical comedy, the way it's sung. And that's a really well integrated show. That's the way we were.

Richard M. Sherman:
We were writing it.

Music 1:
It's that Poppins woman. She did it. I know the very person you meet. Mary Poppins. She's the one what sings a spoonful of sugar. That is all it takes. It changes bread and water into day and night. See, that's exactly what I mean.

Music 1:
Changing bread and water into tea and cakes.

Lou Mongello:
Indeed.

Music 1:
No wonder everything's higgledy piggledy. Here.

Lou Mongello:
And is it true that feed the birds really was a personal favorite of Walt's and one that he often would ask you to come in and sing and play for him on the piano?

Richard M. Sherman:
That's absolutely true. Walt fell in love with that song because he, when he heard it the first time, at that first propitious meeting, when we first told him our ideas of how we could do Mary Poppins as a musical, he asked at the end of that meeting, play that bird lady thing again. So I played. It was not completed. It was just about 16 bars. I sang it for him, and he listened to it intently, and he said, that's the whole story, isn't it? And he said, that is the story, Walt. That's the story. The father doesn't give the tuppence to the kids, meaning he doesn't give their attention.

Richard M. Sherman:
He's so busy making money and supporting the family, he's not giving of himself to the kids. And the mother is so busy with her life, she doesn't. So she has to have a nanny taking care of the kids because she's not doing it. So then, symbolically, at the end of the show, we have this song, let's go fly a kite. And the opening line is, with tuppence for paper and strings, you can have your own set of wings. And the father, mother, kids, run out to the park and fly the kite. Now, that is all symbolic. It's Walt Disney way of doing things.

Richard M. Sherman:
He doesn't say, hey, listen, families get together, go to Disneyland, and enjoy each other. He doesn't say that. He says, let's go fly a kite. That's why Disney dug us, because we understood what he wanted to say to people. And that's. That's the secret of the whole thing. I don't know. I think I drifted away from answering your question.

Lou Mongello:
No, not. Not at all. It was beautiful. And because let's go fly a kite is a personal favorite of mine, I can, and I really appreciate your explanation of it.

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, you know, actually, it was that something came from our father. Our father used to make kites for us when we were kids. He said, you know, if one thing is to go out and buy a kite and fly it, that's great fun. And we used to do that, too. But he says, but if you make a kite, then it's really yours, and it's a piece of you up in the air. And he used to make kites for us, and then we go out and fly them as youngsters, and we were trying to think of a good ending for the show that just came to our minds. He said, what about if the father mends the kite that was broken in the beginning of the movie? And he says, the heck with all this worrying about the bank. I'm going to take my kids out to fly a kite together.

Richard M. Sherman:
And they all go out and fly the kite. And people were crying at the end of the picture. Why? Because it's so pretty. It's a beautiful. It's a statement without insulting anybody by telling what it is. You just felt it in your gut. And that was. That's what we tried to do.

Richard M. Sherman:
And in answer to your question about feed the birds, yes, it was his favorite song. And many times on Friday afternoons he'd call us up and say, what are you working on? And we'd come over and tell him. And we knew that's not what he wanted to hear. He knew what we were working on. He'd say, okay, play it. And he'd look out the north window of his office and I'd sing until I feed the birds for him. He said, well, have a good weekend, boys. And then he sent us home.

Richard M. Sherman:
He was very sentimental. He loved that song. I'll tell you a little story. About five, six years ago, it was the Disney people decided to have this statue, this wonderful bronze, large statue of Walt and Mickey Mouse called the partners, officially dedicated at the Disneyland attraction out in Disneyland. And so they had a big ceremony on the 100th birth anniversary of Walt Disney's birthday. And I was asked to come and play some of the songs we had done for the parks and. And some of the other things which I did. And there were thousands of people, maybe 2500 people out on Main street in.

Richard M. Sherman:
In Disneyland. And I remember I was playing this white piano and it was. There was a hush. And I'd finished playing one of the songs in small world or something. And I said, but I'm going to play this one song just for Walt because it was his favorite. So I looked at the statue and I said, this one's for you, Walt. And I sang and played feed the birds. And you could hear a pin drop in this.

Richard M. Sherman:
In this setting. It was just amazing. And toward the end of the song, just as I sang tuppence, tuppence, tuppence, that spot there. One bird out of a clear sky. There wasn't anything, not even a cloud in the sky. Came flying out of nowhere, right down, swooping under where I was at the piano, right past where I was at the piano and up into the sky again. As I finished the song and I heard an audible intake of breath coming from 2500 people on Main street in Disneyland. And then I couldn't even believe it.

Richard M. Sherman:
I said, what was? And then they applauded, of course, and everything. I said, what was that? To one of the officials there. They said, well, walt came down and said, thank you. And I said, what do you mean? He said, one bird came out of the sky. And I said, I can't believe this. Well, there was newsreels. We're shot at that. And there's that bird coming right down.

Richard M. Sherman:
And I'm finishing the song. So I know that Walt loved that song. Let me just say that I think it was him.

Lou Mongello:
And I'm sure that everybody else that saw that felt the exact same without speaking a word. They all thought the same thing.

Richard M. Sherman:
Oh, yes, definitely. Definitely. Because Walt was a great believer in people. He loved people loved that song. Because the song said, doesn't take much to give love, give it.

Lou Mongello:
And now a testament to maybe Walt's the way he was during this time in the late sixties, you're working for the company and you're asked to work on a non Disney project. You were asked to work on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with Albert Broccoli, your first project, really, in some time outside the company. Yet Walt gave you his approval to do this, didn't he?

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, actually, Cubby Broccoli, who was the producer of all the James Bond films, had acquired the one Ian Fleming story about the magical flying car that Ian had written for his, his son. Because the son said, you write about maseratis and you write about porsches and all these fancy cars, why don't you write a story about a car that I'd like to have? So he created this magical flying car, Chitty Chitty Bang bang, made the funny sound. And Covey got the idea because he loved Mary Poppins so much. He wanted to have Walt Disney co produce with him and he could, you know, get all the people. And most of the people, like Dick Van Dyke, were independent. They didn't have to get Walt Disney's approval, but Bob and I were under contract to Disney, so he wanted to do a co production. And Walt's plate was very full and he didn't have the time or inclination to do a co production. But he said, if you really like this project, and I like Cubby, I think he's a nice guy, a good man and a good producer, I think I'll give you a leave if you want to take it.

Richard M. Sherman:
So we actually were given leave of absence from our exclusive contract with Walt Disney productions to work in England with Cubby. And that's the kind of a man Walt Disney was. He just gave us this permission. He said, it'll be good for your career to do an outside picture. And so we did Chitty Bang bang, which was a huge hit for us. Yes, it was. It was, again, a tribute to the genius and the kindness of Walt Disney.

Lou Mongello:
And for you, Walt was right once again, because you received your third Academy Award nomination. So.

Richard M. Sherman:
That's right. We were nominated for that. And it was. And also, years later, it became a huge, successful stage show. And it's going to be coming back to the States as a touring show very shortly, I think, latter part of this year. Year.

Lou Mongello:
Excellent. I was a big fan of it when I was a child. So it's nice to know that it's coming to the stage like so many of your other shows, like Mary Poppins. But just back to Walt for a minute. How did his passing, how did it affect you personally and professionally, maybe with your work with the studio?

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, let's put it this way. How do you feel if your father dies? It was devastating, absolutely devastating. We loved him very much and we depended on him. We never realized when he passed that things would change so radically. But unfortunately, that's what happens. I mean, the people that took over meant well. They tried very hard, and they weren't Walt Disney. And for many, many years, the studio did not produce any greatness for a long, long time.

Richard M. Sherman:
They were doing adequate sometimes, but not great. And it was later years, certainly, the advent of the resurgence of fine musical scores in films like the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. The greatness came back. But there was a long period of time with, with a tremendous lack of, let's call it, spark.

Lou Mongello:
Yeah, so many people talk about the spark or lack of direction. People almost seemed lost as their mentor was gone and didn't know what to do.

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, yes, you said it. They said, well, what would Walt do? I mean, that's not a way to think. You have to say, what would we do? And we want to carry on creativity and everything, but let's not just keep repeating what we did in the past and do the safe project. Walt was always taking chances and going further. And so I guess maybe the lack of further thinking. See, Walt was such an outstanding storyteller and a super genius, and he didn't have anybody that really was that capable. There wasn't anybody around. I guess I can't give you exact reasons, but how do you replace somebody as great as Walt Disney, you can't.

Richard M. Sherman:
You just can't. A long, long time has to pass. And then eventually things come together and the right people assemble and then, yes, then good, great things can happen. It took a long time. Great things are happening now. People at Pixar are geniuses. They're terrific. But they weren't around then.

Richard M. Sherman:
There was nobody around then, so it didn't happen then. Now it's happening again.

Lou Mongello:
I agree, and I think it's certainly no comparison, but I think, like Walt Disney, Bob Iger is doing what Walt did, which was surround himself by the very best people in the industry. And I think we're seeing, like you said, a resurgence of greatness and creativity, and it's a very exciting time for the company. And to be a fan, well, you.

Richard M. Sherman:
Have to have a great leader who doesn't necessarily have to be creative himself, but at least respect and honor the creative mind and help steer them and helping. And help guide them, let's say, and guide the ship. But basically, you have to have people sensitive to creative thinking, and that's, that's. Iger's doing a great job. I think he's doing a wonderful job. He's done a major step forward when he said, let's not start this bigger, and who gets what. Let's. Let's work together.

Richard M. Sherman:
And so he and Pixar got together and made one organization out of it, which is fabulous. I mean, that's a great step forward, and I think the entire industry is better off for that.

Lou Mongello:
I agree. And like I said, as fans, we also, too, are feeling the wonderful effects of it. And like what happened so many years ago, the company is making wonderful films again. It's also having a trickle down effect on the theme parks. And you and your brother, of course, not only wrote amazing songs for films, but beyond the world's fair attractions, you've also written a number of theme park attraction songs. How did, how were you first approached? What was it like writing that first theme park song? And what was it, if you remember?

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, I think the very first theme park song we wrote was there's a funny story with it. We were invited to go down to a sound stage and look at something, and Ira, Bob and myself and about five other people came down and we sat on bridge chairs in a tropical room that was all dark and everything. And Walt said, okay, turn it, turn it on. So on comes the light, and we see, we're sitting in a tropical room with flowers like orchids, and everything has started singing songs. And then down from the roof came birds. And the birds started singing. And it was the first audio animatronics experiments that they were doing. And it was called the enchanted Tiki room.

Richard M. Sherman:
And we didn't know what the devil it was because they'd never seen anything like it before. Carved tiki poles that started chanting, hugga booga, huga booga. All this type of thing. And it was weird. And I remember one of the fellas in the room said, what the devil is this, Walt? And Walt looked at Bob and myself. He said, you guys are going to write a song that explains what this is all about. And we said, we are? And he said, oh, yes. Yes, you are.

Richard M. Sherman:
And it's going to be a song that explains the enchanted tiki room. Well, all of a sudden, Bob and I were looking at each other. He said, there's no parrots. I think if we had a parrot, at least you could understand dialogue and lyrics from him. So we said, if he had a parrot, maybe the parrot could sing it. So Walt immediately four parrots would have a french parrot, would have a dutch parrot, we'll have a spanish parrot. And he was plussing the idea, and he says, now, what kind of song are we going to do? And I remember the first thing popped into my head was I said, well, it's a tropical room. Let's do a.

Richard M. Sherman:
A tropical rhythm, like a calypso. He says, okay, it's calypso gonna be sung by parrots. And he said, I need this right away because we're gonna have to start the whole thing with a song. And I remember Bob and I being songwriters. He said, tiki is a great word. If we played with the word tiki tiki tiki that sounds kind of cool. So we said, what about if we call it the tiki tiki tiki rule? He said, that's it. Okay.

Richard M. Sherman:
You're gonna write me that song and what it's all about. And with that, we ushered out the door and we went off to write it in a hurry. And it's the longest running show song, I think it's ever been performed. It's made all kinds of records now. It's 40 some years. It's been playing in the tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room. That song.

Lou Mongello:
Yeah. To call it a classic would be an understatement.

Richard M. Sherman:
Yeah. Well, that was the birth of. It was strictly a need to explain what that tiki room was all about. But once you heard the birds singing welcome to the tropical hideaway and they sing in the tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room. Everybody, you know, starts singing along with them. And that's, of course, just the fun of it all. It's just an invitation to enjoy yourself. And the birds are your hosts and they explain what the tiki room is all about in several silly verses that we wrote and funny jokes that Larry Clemens added.

Richard M. Sherman:
So we had a lot of fun doing that.

Lou Mongello:
And it's funny to hear just how quickly the creative process took place. You know, you, you open your mouth, you say a couple of words, and Walt says, good, that's it. Go do it. And you're off writing songs.

Richard M. Sherman:
Show me the executive today that can do that, and I'll, I'll be amazed. Because Walt could grasp two words, an idea. Just throw it, and he'd know exactly where you were heading. He could finish it for you. I. We were so close in our relationship with Walt that sometimes when we had an assignment, we'd see him in the hall. We said, walt, I think we got the idea. And then I'd sing him two bars of a song, and he'd say, yeah, that's it.

Richard M. Sherman:
Finish it. I mean, it was just like that because he knew what we were going to do if we could give him the approach. And it was a marvelous symbiosis that we had between us, really understanding of the need for a certain statement and how we could do it or how we would enlarge on it. We've never had it since. I must say that I've had some wonderful producers and creative people that I've worked with over the years, and they're all inspiring guys, but there's never been anybody like Walt Disney. He was only one of a kind, and maybe one in a century comes.

Lou Mongello:
Along like that, and it obviously just shows the trust that he had in you and your brother that he could just hear those two bars and know that the rest of what you would create, he didn't even need to hear.

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, yeah, I think that's the kind of, that's the kind of mind he had. He. Well, he knew us pretty well. He knew his artist. I mean, many times an artist would show him a sketch, he's. Yeah, that's it. Now work on that. Or, I think the chin's a little weak.

Richard M. Sherman:
Do something there. And he would sort of make suggestions. But he was so confident with his team of great animators, and his wonderful. He had some wonderful staff writers like Bill Walsh was a brilliant writer, and he'd say, I need a scene where this thing so happens. And Walsh would go off and do it, and he'd say, yeah, that's what we're talking about. That's the kind of a boss he was. He would sort of steer you. And with our.

Richard M. Sherman:
With our songwriting, it was. It was that kind of a thing. I remember walking down the hall one day, and we were writing a song for Maurice Chevalier to sing in a picture called in Search of the castaways with Haley Mills, which was in it. And they were stuck in an ambu tree after a big flash flood had come. And they're really stuck, and they're hungry, and they want something to eat. So this professor who was played by Chevalier said, you know, use the things we have around us. There's some bird eggs over here, and we can fry them on this pan and everything. And he starts building an omelet with spices and everything he finds from the tree, and he sings this song.

Richard M. Sherman:
And Walt wanted him to be singing a song as he's doing this. So we said, we have an idea. And the idea was, enjoy it. And we said, why cry about bad weather? Enjoy it. Each moment is a treasure. Enjoy it. And I sang that little song to him with a melody that much he said, yeah, that's it. Finish it.

Richard M. Sherman:
And that was it. And that became a classic Walt Disney moment in that film. It was just wonderful when he did that with Haley. They sang a duet together, and it was lovely. But it all started with. He heard two lines of a song, and he said, yeah, finish it.

Lou Mongello:
And, you know, that song, like most else of what you've written, including the theme park music, is that same happy, uplifting thing. Now, for example, for carousel of progress, she wrote the great big beautiful tomorrow. Again, one of my personal favorites. And I have to say, the video of you and your brother singing that at the piano with Walt with the GE jackets on, is one of my favorite videos anywhere.

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, that, again, was what he wanted, to get some more money to finish the pavilion. That was running over the over budget, and we had just finished the song, and he. And he didn't discuss this with us. We were just, you know, the kids on the block. We were writing our songs. And one day he called out about three days after we'd played the song for him, and he had said his classic battle work, and he said, on Friday, put a tie on. I'm doing some lead ins. I want you to come down to the stage two sound.

Richard M. Sherman:
Stage two after lunch. So he said, okay, walt. And so we wore a jacket and a tie and as we were being made up, he said, we're going to do something together. They pinned the ge logos on the back up with our jackets, and he was doing a big sales pitch on what they were doing for the carousel of progress. And he wanted us to sing the song. We didn't know he would sing it with us. And he said, prop the lyric up so we can do it together. So on the piano there, we did one take, really, and sang the song.

Richard M. Sherman:
And he said, kick your heels up when you go off when I tell you to. So, okay, we did that. And there, for the one and only time on film, he actually said, the Sherman brothers write the wonderful, a lot of the wonderful songs, you know, at the Disney studio. Well, he said wonderful songs to us, but not directly to us. He said it to the ge people. Well, sure enough, he got his money and he finished his pavilion. But here's again the kindness of Mister Disney. He was so wonderful.

Richard M. Sherman:
He, about two days or maybe a week after we had done this little bit for him with those two envelopes in our office, and it was 16 millimeter print of the thing that you love, that piece of footage of us doing this thing together. And the note said, this is a little souvenir the other day. I know that your grandchildren enjoy seeing this one day. And that was him. That's walt. He gave that spoonful of sugar. I'm going to start crying now. He was incredible.

Lou Mongello:
And, you know, that just adds to. And I think that's why I love the piece so much. Just a beautiful story that surrounds it, because you are unprepared. And there's Walt Disney singing one of the true anthems of him and his career and everything that he's done and what you've done. And then he tells you to go back to work so he can finish talking to the ge people. But then does that, that small little gesture that obviously, so many years later, means so much to you?

Richard M. Sherman:
It certainly does. I'm telling you, there were manifold, many, many, many times he did these wonderful, wonderful gestures. I think. Well, the main thing, I think, is he recognized in Bob and myself, these two pop songwriters. He recognized we had more to offer than just writing pop songs. And I think this was one of the greatest things of all, because he recognized we were telling story within the songs. We were saying more than just, I love you, I need you, I want you. I lost you.

Richard M. Sherman:
Forgive me. I mean, the typical stuff songs are written about, we were writing about something off the wall that you don't expect, and that was he liked that? He liked that idea. Well, then we sort of painted pictures.

Lou Mongello:
And he did the same with the song that, for some time replaced great big beautiful tomorrow. You wrote best time of your life. Again, that was the inspirational song.

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, again, they wanted. The ge people had a new president. He wanted to have a new statement, and he wanted to say, now is the greatest time, not just tomorrow. And so we're given an assignment. Can you give us another inspiring song about today? And so we wrote, now is the time. Now is the best time now is the best time of your life. And so we wrote that song, and they loved that. So I think for about 1012 years, Disney in Florida, Disney World.

Richard M. Sherman:
That was the theme song. But then they'd gone back to great big beautiful tomorrow. I'm happy to say, I figured you.

Lou Mongello:
Probably liked the original. But for me, I know for so many people, maybe of my generation, I grew up for so many years with best time of your life. But both songs I enjoy and one of the other favorite songs of mine that I remember from a kid that I think a lot of people don't remember was the little orange bird song that you wrote for Disney, and the.

Richard M. Sherman:
Flower, little orange bird in the yellow tree. Yeah, yeah, I remember that. That was. That was the orange grove. The orange growers of Florida or something were sponsoring a pavilion or something, and we wrote a song for it. Anita de Bryant sang it. Anita Bryant. Lovely singer.

Richard M. Sherman:
Yeah, yeah.

Lou Mongello:
And it's funny, because there you are. You were writing for characters and people like Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Now you're writing for singing Tikis and flowers and a little orange bird that is singing his thoughts so well.

Richard M. Sherman:
You know, each one is a challenge, and each one is a kind of a opportunity. I always like the idea of just sort of, like, letting myself become whatever it is that I'm singing. I like to think of myself as sort of malleable. That way I don't just say. I don't just write about what I think is what, about what that character thinks? So, in a way, you're an actor, and now Bob and I both sort of throw ourselves into a. A time period or a time frame or a situation, and not just writing what our viewpoint is, but what that character's viewpoint is. And it's a trick, but again, it's part of storytelling.

Lou Mongello:
It's brilliant. And it actually leads me to where I was going next. Because you wrote some songs for Epcot before it opened, specifically. Again, you talk about this intangible thing that you try and define which is the imagination pavilion. And he wrote magic journeys. And you've also written, making but one little spark.

Richard M. Sherman:
One little spark, again, is that wonderful thing that the human mind has, and that is inspiration. How do you explain it? It's a combination of everything you've lived, everything you experienced, everything you've read and heard, into a moment, a split second of time when you fuse it into an idea. And ideas are remarkable things, and that's what that one little spark is. Inspiration. It's at the heart of all creation. I'm reciting my lyrics, but one little spark of inspiration is at the heart of all creation. Right at the start of anything that's new, one little spark lights up for you. Imagination.

Richard M. Sherman:
Imagination. That's what it's all about. Yeah. Basically, it was, again, a statement, sort of culminating our thoughts about Walt Disney. He used to throw so many ideas at his friend, at his staff, and his. And his creative people, and then that one little spark would either light up for you or it wouldn't. But many times it did. And that's what the birth of these songs came out of.

Lou Mongello:
Yeah. I think one little spark for so many people is it's not just epcot sort of unofficial theme for song. It really is their sort of personal anthem because of the message that it conveys.

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, you see, within every human being, there's something wonderful. It's just, you have to find it and recognize it and then go with it, use it. And we as human beings have a wonderful thing over the animal kingdom, because we can take those ideas, because who knows? If an ape has an idea, it has a reaction, it has a pattern, but it doesn't have an idea, necessarily early, but a human being has an idea, and he can work with an idea. And so it's a blessing to be a human being. It's a great blessing. And we use those little sparks. That's what makes us human.

Lou Mongello:
Let me ask, speaking of the theme park songs, after the attractions opened, did you get a chance to go and see them, or even now, do you get a chance to go and visit the parks and hear some of your songs?

Richard M. Sherman:
Oh, sure. I love it. Yeah, I love when. I love the be there when they're singing along with it. It makes me feel very good. I've always enjoyed that. No, I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to write these things. There are a tremendous amount of very gifted people.

Richard M. Sherman:
I'm sure the people that are listening to this. There's a lot of people out there that have a lot to say, and are dying to say it. And you got to keep trying and putting your foot in that door, making yourself available, because one day something good can happen. It can happen. I can't guarantee it. Nobody can. Who knows? I mean, if Walt Disney didn't like Annette cello, would I be talking to you today? I don't know. But there it is.

Lou Mongello:
Right?

Richard M. Sherman:
True.

Lou Mongello:
And I guess I have to ask you, you know, and I know maybe it's an unfair question about a personal favorite song or accomplishment, and maybe if it's whether it's one that it's a personal favorite for you or one that you're most proud of or maybe one that has the most meaning for you. What song or songs would those be?

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, I think it's so difficult when you have 500 children, it's your personal favorite. Each child, or each song in this case, has a special story, a special meaning. I'm very dearly fond of the school, to Poppins. I think it's very special because it was a giant step forward. But how could I forget the fact that there was a little rock and roll ditty called Tall Paul that started the whole ball of wax? I mean, that's. You don't understand what I'm saying. And it's a small world, which everybody in the world knows this song, and a lot of people want to kill us or kiss us for it, but there you go. How can I say what is the favorite? It's an impossibility.

Richard M. Sherman:
I can only say I'm very grateful for the fact that I worked for Walt Disney. I'm grateful for all those opportunities he gave me. And I. I think maybe closest and nearest to my heart would have to be feed the birds, because that was Walt's favorite, so it's mine, too.

Lou Mongello:
Yeah. Like I said, I know. I kind of knew that it would be hard to sort of pick one, but.

Richard M. Sherman:
But, yeah, but it's not my favorite. It's just one of my favorites. Yeah.

Lou Mongello:
You know, obviously, since you worked for Disney during that time, you did come back, you wrote some more music for Disneyland's New Tomorrowland. You came back and you wrote for the Tigger movie. And I assume that since then you've been doing so much more about with your work on the stage shows. Give us a little bit of what you've been doing since your work for Disney.

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, we did some 25 films for other producers. I won't run a list down for you, but we had the joy of writing some wonderful, wonderful books. I mean, adding music and lyrics to some wonderful stories. For example, we worked with Charles Schultz on Snoopy come home, and we worked at Paramount with the Hanna Barbera people on Charlotte's web, a beautiful, beautiful book that we wrote music for, and we've written a lot of beautiful. And then for United Artists, we did two pictures, the Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, and then we did Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, two musicalizations of those classic american stories. We've done a lot of songs. And then we went to England and we did the slipper in the Rose, which was a retelling of Cinderella from the prince's point of view, a wonderful, elegant picture with Richard Chamberlain as our prince. And we had a lot of great, great experiences writing for other people.

Richard M. Sherman:
But the highlights of our life, I must say, have to be centered around the Disney product. And we're having worked for Disney on recent things as well. It's kind of lovely that we have this wonderful relationship. I know that I've done a lot of interviews for the dvd sections of reissues of some of the films we worked on, and that's a lot of fun reminiscing. We did a thing with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke sitting around piano with me reminiscing about Poppins for the Disney DVD special edition that just came out about a few years ago. This is the kind of thing that I've been enjoying doing, and I never cease to be amazed at how I remember everything because it's so vivid in my mind. It's like yesterday.

Lou Mongello:
Well, I definitely want to direct people, and I'll put a link in this week's show notes where you can find out to go and pick up a copy of your book called Walt's time. And it really, it's more than just a very beautiful scrapbook of your professional career with your brother. But what I enjoyed about the book was it really gives a very personal look at you and your family and especially the relationship that you had and the love that you had with your father and Walt, as well as now with your wife and children.

Richard M. Sherman:
Oh, well, thank you. It's a lovely thing. That book was about ten years. It came out about ten years ago, and I believe it's still available. I think you have to sort of go to one of these.com situations to get it. I don't know how I'm not involved in the publishing of it, but it's a lovely book called Walt's time by Robert and Richard Sherman. And it's a lovely thing, by the way, my son, Greg Sherman, and my brother's son, Jeff Sherman, are doing a beautiful documentary on the life of Bob and myself. It's called the Boys, the story of the Sherman brothers.

Richard M. Sherman:
And Disney is behind it. They're helping them put it together. And it's going to be wonderful. It's going to tell a whole life story, not just the Disney part of it, but the, from soup to nuts. And it's kind of a wonderful story. Different people will be surprised and I think amazed and enjoy it, I think, because there are a lot of things about it that I don't want to give away anything. It's just to say that it's, it's, it resumes, the resume of our, our existence. It's interesting.

Richard M. Sherman:
Yeah.

Lou Mongello:
And people can learn more. They can go to theboys.com. and I am personally looking forward to seeing this, really finding out about the growth of the professional and personal relationship with your brother and just the personal aspects that were so formative for you and obviously led to both of you creating so many beautiful songs for so many generations.

Richard M. Sherman:
You've been very kind in saying these nice things about my brother Bob and myself. And on behalf of my brother and myself, I thank you very, very much.

Lou Mongello:
Well, you have to indulge me, if you can, just for a second, because I need to just, you know, this is a rare occasion for me. So on a personal note, I have to say that I'm not just in awe of your work, but the music that you and your brother created have honestly helped to define me as a person. The songs that you wrote for your films were so much a part of my childhood, and they were so uplifting and put smiles on my face so many more times that I can count. Then I remember singing these songs with my parents, and the songs have truly touched me. They continue to do so. And now that I have children, I'm able to pass them along and see how they enjoy them. So to that, I really give you my most sincere thanks for bringing me and my family so much happiness for so many years.

Richard M. Sherman:
Well, I give you my most sincere thanks. That's very, very sweet. I appreciate that.

Lou Mongello:
It is. It has truly been a privilege to speak with you today. I hope you will always know how important and influential and meaningful your work continues to be to countless millions of families across the world. And this is where I would normally say, well, to learn more about my guest so and so, go here and here. But to learn more about Richard Sherman and the Sherman brothers, visit a Disney theme park or watch a classic Disney film with your family. And when you start to smile. You can silently thank my very, very special guest, Richard M. Sherman.

Lou Mongello:
I want to thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. Please give my best to your wife. And thank you so, so much. I hope I have the honor of meeting you in person and shaking your hand someday.

Richard M. Sherman:
I do, too. Thank you.


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