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Sherman Brothers honored with their very own Window on Main Street at Disneyland

Sherman Brothers honored with their very own Window on Main Street at Disneyland

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Given the strong positive reaction that Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman’s Window on Main Street ceremony received this past Thursday morning, Disneyland Resort President George Kalogridis remarked “ … we should open the Park like this every day.”

But – then again -- how could you not love an event that starts off with a chimney sweep appearing on Main Street USA, singing a rewritten version of “Chim Chim Cheree.” Which included the lines:

Room here for everyone, gather around
The Shermans determined each marvelous sound
These brothers composed every rhythm and rhyme
With spoons full of sugar and steps in time

Sherman Brothers get their window on Main Street Disneyland
Photo by Shelly Smith

Yes, this was a truly special day at Disneyland. As Kalogridis continued:

It’s a privilege to be here as we honor two genuine Disney Legends – Richard M. & Robert B. Sherman -- with one of the highest honors bestowed at The Walt Disney Company, their every own Window on Main Street USA.

Sadly, Robert wasn’t able to make the trip over from London. But Richard was. And to the tune of “Fortuosity,” this Sherman Brother made his entrance by rolling on stage in an antique roadster.

The Sherman Brothers now have a window on MAin Street in Disneyland
Photo by Shelly Smith

Once Richard had taken his seat, George continued his opening remarks. Reflecting on how the Sherman Brothers first met Walt Disney back in July of 1960. And from that one fateful meeting (where Walt offered Dick & Bob the chance to write a song for “The Parent Trap”), the Sherman Brothers would then go on to write more motion picture scores than any other songwriters in the history of film.

George went on, talking about Disney’s obvious affection for the Sherman Brothers:

Walt fondly referred to them as “the boys.” He valued their talent, their enthusiasm and their can-do attitude. Whether for film, television or his theme parks, Walt knew that the Sherman Brothers would create the perfect tunes to underscore his dreams.

The Sherman Brothers wrote many of the great songs for Disney movies
George Kalogridis, President of Disneyland. Photo by Shelly Smith

And then – as if to emphasize this point – Kalogridis then introduced flesh-and-blood versions of the Mother & Father AA figures from “Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress” attraction.

All of the Disneyland veterans & Imagineers in attendance at this Window of Main Street ceremony seemed to really get a kick out of this portion of the event. And given all the Disney theme park in-jokes …

MOTHER: After moving here from New York and after living in Tomorrowland for about six years, we thought that we’d really been around …

Richard and Robert Sherman received their own window on Main Street in Disneyland
Photo by Shelly Smith

FATHER: And around and around and around … But it wasn’t til we finally sold the place to that singing eagle and his little owl

… it was easy to understand why.

After a brief intro, Mother & Father then launched into song. Performing a medley of all the tunes that the Sherman Brothers had written for the Disney Parks. And – in true synergistic fashion – they even managed to work in a plug for DCA’s soon-to-be-opening nighttime extravaganza, “Disney’s World of Color.”

The Sherman Brothers
Photo by Shelly Smith

Once Mother & Father finished their performance, it was time for Tom Schumacher – the President of the Disney Theatrical Group – to come to the podium. And speaking on behalf of all the baby boomers in the audience, Schumacher said:

If you grew up … in the last half of the 20th Century, you were raised by the Sherman Brothers. They educated you. They delighted you. They entertained you. They enlighted you.

Thomas went on to talk about his own Sherman Brothers-related memories. How he caught “Mary Poppins” during its original engagement at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. And then how – many decades later – when he met with Dick at Beverly Hills’s fabled Polo Lounge and said “So whaddaya think? ‘Poppins’ on Broadway?,” he watched as Sherman’s legendary smile started at one ear and then wrapped all the way ‘round to the other.

The Sherman Brothers get a window on Main Street Brothers Tunemakers
Tom Schumacher, President of Disney Theatrical Group.
Photo by Shelly Smith

Schumacher (who’s clearly a Sherman Brothers enthusiast) offered up his own theories as to why Dick & Bob’s music is so popular, so lasting:

I think that it’s got a number of factors.  One is that (a Sherman Brothers song) touches you in the heart, and then it touches you in the mind. But it sounds like an old friend the first time you hear it.

And speaking of old friends … Tom then introduced Marty Sklar, the former head of Imagineering (Who – as Schumacher quipped – allegedly retired from the Company last July but “ … there’s not a person here that’s buying that for a minute”). And Marty – who actually worked with Dick & Bob on many attractions for the Parks – was quite eloquent. Talking about how it would be impossible to …

Richard Sherman attended the ceremony in Disneyland
Disney Legend Marty Sklar. Photo by Shelly Smith

… imagine Disneyland without the beautiful background music of “Summer Magic” here on Main Street? Or the beautiful “Feed the Birds” when you shop in the Emporium? Or the unspellable “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” when you ride the Carousel in Fantasyland? … (These) two brothers wrote tunes that will last as long as there are Disneylands and Worlds somewhere on our truly small planet.

As Sklar stepped away from the podium, it was then Tom Staggs (i.e. the new Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts)‘s turn to speak. And Staggs was clearly not thrilled to be following two gifted storytellers like Schumacher and Sklar, deadpanning:

I think – as they were staging this (Windows on Main Street ceremony) – they said that “We’re going to need two Legends and a Suit.” Guess who I am?

The Sherman Brothers
T
om Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
Photo by Shelly Smith

Still, Tom soldiered on. Talking about how Walt himself had started the Windows on Main Street tradition, as he sought to pay tribute to those who helped to make his dream a reality. And for the two Disney Legends that were being honored this past Thursday morning, Staggs remarked:

Richard & Robert Sherman are two people who have truly earned this honor … Their contributions – as you’ve heard – have touched every facet of our Company. It’s indeed a fact that the sun never sets on the music of the Sherman Bros. Which is daily heard on theme parks from Anaheim to Orlando to Tokyo to Paris & Hong Kong. They’re the ideal songwriters for a Company like Disney. They possess an enduring optimism that permeates every measure of their work. They also have the uncanny ability to bring Disney stories to life through music in both a magical and memorable way.

And speaking of memorable … One of the more memorable moments from the Sherman Brothers’ Window on Main Street ceremony came when Mother & Father came backstage onstage. Where – thanks to “… thanks to progress and this state-of-the-art technology (i.e. a vintage table radio from the 1930s),” we heard a voice from across the sea.

The window ceremony on Main Street Disneyland
Photo by Shelly Smith

Mind you, it took Mother & Father a moment or two to properly tune in that signal. And while they were cruising around the dial, we heard songs from some of the Sherman Brothers’ non-Disney films like “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Charlotte's Web” and “The Magic of Lassie.” But then – clear as a bell, coming all the way from London – was Robert B. Sherman’s voice. Who said:

It is such a thrill to be honored in this way with a Window on Main Street, Disneyland. To be woven into the unique fabric of this place, the Happiest Place on Earth, is a truly magnificent and humbling thing. It’s an enduring legacy and an acknowledgment of the work that my brother Richard and I have contributed. And it is a testament to the notion that -- with a little inspiration and a lot of perspiration -- dreams can become manifest.

This brand of Disney optimism and self determination is uniquely American. And it has been carried forward since the days of our founding fathers and was the very embodiment of Walt Disney himself. Our teacher, our mentor.

Robert Sherman, Richard Sherman and Walt Disney circa 1963
(L to R) Robert B. Sherman, Richard M. Sherman and Walt Disney circa 1963.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

50 years ago, my brother and I were first welcomed into the greater Disney family by Walt himself. Today would not be complete without thanking Walt for giving us two young songwriters our first big break. Thanks, Walt.

Lastly, I’d like to thank and acknowledge my brother Richard. We see each other only once or twice a year in one city or another. London or New York, sometimes LA. But I can think of no greater collaborator, no better balance to me. Thank you, Richard for the lifetime shared together and to everyone for the legacy being honored here today.

At this point, Richard M. Sherman made his way to the podium. Clearly undone by his brother’s unexpectedly kind words, he took a moment to collect himself. Then Dick launched into a story about his very first trip to Disneyland. How his old pal, Magic Castle founder Milt Larsen – sensing that this then-fledgling songwriter was feeling a bit blue – said “What you doing next week on Wednesday?”

Richard Sherman at the window ceremony on Main St. Disneyland
Photo by Shelly Smith

And the next thing Dick knew, he was …

… in a little car. And we drove forever to this place called Anaheim. And as we turned off the highway, there was this sign that said “Disneyland.” And I said “Oh, yeah. That’s that thing. I heard about this when I was in the Army.” This was about three months after the Park had opened. As soon as I walked in from the parking lot, all of the problems and pressures that I had been feeling just slipped away …

Sherman remembered that he had had a perfectly wonderful time at Disneyland during his very first visit to the Park. But a more memorable occasion came in the 1960s when Dick was visiting the Happiest Place on Earth with his wife, Elizabeth. They were just getting ready to head back home when they noticed a lone figure standing at the end of Main Street USA. It was Walt Disney.

Richard Sherman on Main Street Disneyland
Photo by Noe Valladolid

Sherman felt compelled to go up to his boss and tell Disney about what a wonderful time he and his wife had had that day at Disneyland, gushing that …

… As Tinker Bell flew over the castle and the fireworks exploded, I teared up. Happy tears. And then Walt confessed “I do that every time too.”

He was the greatest fan of this Park. Walt Disney himself.

As Dick closed out his remarks, Sherman quoted a lyric that he and his brother had written for the George Banks character in “Mary Poppins.” When the then-demoralized banker was telling Bert the chimney sweep that “ … a man has dreams of walking with giants. To carve his niche in the edifice of time.”

The Sherman Brothers window on Main Street Disneyland says "Brothers Tunemakers"
Photo by Noe Valladolid

Now gesturing to the window behind him in the storefront of Main Street USA’s 20th Century Music Company (which reads: “Two Brothers Tunemakers”), Sherman said “Well, I think now Bob & I carved our niche.”

Then – stepping over to a white grand piano – Dick played Walt’s favorite song, “Feed the Birds.” After that, Sherman was joined onstage by face character versions of Mary Poppins, Bert, the Pearly Band and even a few penguins. And as kites suddenly appeared in the skies over Main Street USA, the ceremony closed out with a performance of that Sherman Brothers favorite, “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”

In short, this Window on Main Street ceremony was a practically perfect tribute / celebration of the life & works of Richard M. & Robert M. Sherman. And it was a genuine thrill to be on hand when Dick & Bob finally got their window.

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  • Good God, it's about freaking time the Shermans got a window! And there ought to be some kind of Mary Poppins-based attraction at the parks as well. That movie was a huge hit, won tons of awards, was Walt's greatest masterpiece...and it's been totally ignored by the Disney suits for years. Why?

  • It's not like WDI hasn't tried, gigglesock. Tony Baxter likes to tell the story of how he got an interview with WDI by proposing an attraction based on the "Jolly Holiday" sequence; when he got up there, he says that they showed him ideas that they'd come up with that were even better than his!  I think "Poppins" just had the misfortune to come out in a period of time where the Imagineers already had plenty on thier plate, and by the time those projects got done, the days where audiences were excited by attractions with lots of AAs and no thrills had already ended.

    Bravo for the Shermans!  Now, how about getting Alice Davis her window while she's still around to appreciate it, guys?  

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