Sherman keeps the spirit of his father and grandfather alive in a new family-friendly show.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Craig Glenday - Musical Theatre Review
Robbie Sherman is the latest in a long line of Sherman Family music-makers. Famously, his father and uncle - ROBERT B. SHERMAN and RICHARD M. SHERMAN (respectively) - were and are the Disney songwriting legends known to the world as "THE SHERMAN BROTHERS".
The Brothers started writing together on a dare from their father, Tin Pan Alley songwriter AL SHERMAN (pictured above, with his sons), who inherited his ear for music from his father SAMUEL SHERMAN, who was the court composer and conductor for Emperor Franz Josef II of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Explore this section to find out more about previous Sherman generations, and what Robbie, as a trustee of the estates of Al Sherman and the Sherman Brothers, is doing to keep their work alive in the 21st century.
Music has run through the Sherman family tree for many generations. Here's a brief overview of the past four generations. In the next tab, you can see a more detailed timeline of the joint careers of the most famous generation to date: the Sherman Brothers.
Samuel Sherman (1871-1948) was the court composer and conductor for Emperor Franz Josef II of the Austro-Hungarian Empire between 1903 and 1909. Born in the small fishing village of Stepinetz near Kiev, Ukraine in 1871, Samuel hailed from a musical family. His father Otto Sherman played the clarinet while Samuel and his younger brothers studied the violin as youths.
In 1903, to avoid conscription into Russian Czar Nicholas II's army, Samuel fled Stepinetz, leaving his wife Lena and their four children. He made his way to Prague (which was at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), where his fortunes were to suddenly change for the better. Within a year of his arrival, Samuel was appointed concertmaster, first violinist and intermittent court composer in the Royal Court of Emperor Franz Josef.
Samuel's wife Lena and their children, Olga, Avrum (Al), Edith and Regina would later join Samuel in Prague. In 1909, Samuel and Lena emigrated once again, this time moving to America and settling in New York City. Again fortune changed for the Sherman family; this time for the worse. In America, Samuel found it difficult to find the sort of work he felt was worthy of his talent.
By 1911, Samuel's increasing frustration proved too much for his marriage to bear and he and Lena separated. Lena was left to take care of their, by then, five children. Their youngest, Harold, having only been born a year earlier, in 1910.
Thirteen-year-old Al was forced to quit school to find work so that he could earn enough money to provide for his mother and siblings. Eventually, Al would enter the music business, against Samuel's direct orders. Samuel spent the last thirty-six years of his life working as a violinist in a small, indistinct Italian restaurant in Brooklyn where he died in 1948.
Samuel's son, Al Sherman (1897-1973), was a popular songwriter active during the Tin Pan Alley era. Some of his most recognizable song titles include: "You Gotta Be A Football Hero", "Now's The Time To Fall In Love" and "Lindbergh (The Eagle of the U.S.A.)".
Al was born "Avrum" to Samuel and Lena Sherman on 7 September 1897 in Kiev, now part of modern-day Ukraine. When the Shermans moved to New York in 1909, adolescent Al taught himself how to play piano. Despite youth and scant knowledge of the English language, natural talent soon earned Al a reputation as a top “mood music” pianist in silent movie and movie theatres.
Al’s songwriting career began in 1918 while working as a staff pianist at the Remick Music Company. At Remick, he worked alongside future songwriting greats including George Gershwin and Vincent Youmans. During this time, he also organised and directed a small orchestra that played in New York and Miami Beach.
In 1921, Al met silent film actress, Rosa Dancis. They were married in 1923.
During the last days of vaudeville, Al and several of his fellow hitmakers formed the revue “Songwriters on Parade”, performing on the Loews and Keith circuits. Throughout the 1920s, 30s and 40s, Al was one of the most sought-after songwriters on Tin Pan Alley.
Some of Al Sherman’s other well-known songs include: “Wanita”, “Save Your Sorrow”, “Pretending”, “On the Beach at Bali-Bali”, “Over Somebody Else’s Shoulder”, “No! No! A Thousand Times No!”, “For Sentimental Reasons”, “(What Do We Do On a) Dew Dew Dewey Day”, “Nine Little Miles from Ten-Ten-Tennessee”, “Ninety-Nine Out Of a Hundred (Wanna Be Loved)”, “On a Little Bamboo Bridge”, “Livin’ In the Sunlight, Lovin’ In the Moonlight” and “Got the Bench, Got the Park”.
Artists who recorded Al Sherman songs include: Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Eddie Cantor, Rudy Vallee, Ozzie Nelson, Lawrence Welk, Peggy Lee, Patti Page and Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Orchestra among others.
Al also wrote songs for the major Broadway revues including: The Ziegfeld Follies, George White’s Scandals, The Passing Show and Earl Carroll’s Vanities. And he wrote songs that were included in motion picture scores including:Sweetie, The Sky’s the Limit, The Big Pond andSensations of 1945.
Al’s 1952 chart topper song “Come’s A-Long A-Love” (sung by Kay Starr) would prove to be his last big hit. When he died in 1973, the Associated Press wrote, “Al Sherman helped raise the spirits of a Depression-era generation”.
Al and Rosa Sherman’s older son, Robert B. Sherman was born in 1925. Their younger son, Richard M. Sherman was born in 1928. Forming and guiding the Sherman Brothers songwriting team would prove to be Al’s greatest songwriting achievement.
Al's sons, Robert B. Sherman (1925 -2012) and Richard M. Sherman (1928-), a.k.a "The Sherman Brothers, were one of the most formidable and well-loved songwriting partnerships in American music history, specializing in family entertainment. They wrote more motion-picture musical song scores than any other songwriting team in film history. The Sherman Brothers film scores include: Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Jungle Book, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Charlotte's Web, The Slipper and the Rose and The Aristocats. View the Sherman Brothers' timeline on the next tab in this section.
Robert B. Sherman's son, Robert J. ("Robbie) Sherman (1968-) has inherited the family talent genes in triplicate. He is a composer (like his uncle) and a lyricist (like his father) as well as a book and scriptwriter, whose musical credits onstage and screen to date include the critically acclaimed Love Birds, Bumblescratch and A Spoonful of Sherman.
Read Robbie's full bio on the About page.
[1980s coming soon]