Composer Richard Sherman (along with his brother Bob) has created some very memorable movie music, but none more magical than the jolly collection of songs in Walt Disney's Mary Poppins. Here, the 76-year-old Sherman tells TV Guide Online about the extra-packed Poppins 40th Anniversary DVD (out this week) and a musical legacy that's as sweet as a spoonful of sugar.TV Guide Online: How'd you like reuniting with Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews for this DVD?
Richard Sherman: Dick, Julie and I share a great bond. It's like when you see an old friend after many years and the years just fall away. It seems like yesterday. They are wonderful people. What can I say? It was a warm feeling. TVGO: One DVD treat is the three of you reminiscing around the piano.
Sherman: We were all very relaxed, but I was told not to ask Julie to sing because she is very self-conscious. She had an operation and now she can't sing those beautiful notes anymore. But I thought if I played "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" lower than [it was] originally done, she would probably do it. She was a great sport about it and started singing along. And then, Dick jumped up and danced. I said, "We can't top that." It was a great and very real moment. TVGO: Who decided to team them up in Poppins?
Sherman: Well, that is the brilliance of a great casting director, and we had Walt Disney as our casting director. I saw Julie on The Ed Sullivan Show doing "What Do the Simple Folk Do" from the show Camelot, and I called my brother Bob who said, "That Julie Andrews is perfect for Mary Poppins." The next day Walt's secretary made arrangements for him to see Camelot the next time he was in New York and the fix was in. TVGO: You hear mixed things about Walt Disney.
Sherman: The people that say nasty things about Walt didn't know him. He was the most marvelous man in the would. He made you believe you could do things you never dreamed you could do and you went out and did them because you wanted to please him. Ten of my most productive years were spent at Disney. TVGO: There've been many covers of Poppins songs. What are some of your favorites?
Sherman: I really liked Arthur Fiddler's version of "Chim Chim Cher-ee" and also Duke Ellington did a recording of the entire score in jazz. Louie Prima did a double-talk version of "Chim Chim Cher-ee" that inspired us to cast him as King Louie in The Jungle Book. TVGO: The Jungle Book's music is great. Which other scores of yours do people still ask about?
Sherman: We had great success with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Charlotte's Web, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks... TVGO: And don't forget the title song to the film That Darn Cat.
Sherman: Yeah, sung by the late, great Bobby Darin. But my brother and I get more scorn for the song "It's a Small World" than anything else we've done. (Laughs) I still get a kick out of that song, because everyone knows it. Last year, Reader's Digest voted it the number one song you can't get out of your head. TVGO: Do you get paid every time "It's a Small World" is played?
Sherman: No, I don't. If I did, I'd be the richest man in the world.