Composer, Richard Sherman stopped in yesterday. That’s one of the cool perks that comes with working here at the Walt Disney Company. You never know what famous person may just drop in for a chat. Of course, we had a lovely time remembering the good old days with Walt Disney. Richard, along with his brother, Bob and I share something special. We all had the pleasure of working with the Old Maestro, Walt Disney on three very important projects back in the sixties. Those amazing projects include, “Winnie the Pooh,” “Mary Poppins” and Walt’s final animated motion picture, “The Jungle Book.” I reminded Richard that he and his brother Bob were two young kids back then. As a kid in my twenties, I was even younger. Why was I in the same room with so many important people, I wondered? And, when was Walt Disney gonna boot me out of the meeting? Thankfully, he never did and I have these wonderful memories to share.
There was a piano in our meeting area and we were reminded how much music played a role in so many projects at the Disney Studio. It’s difficult to imagine a story meeting on “The Jungle Book” without Robert and Richard Sherman sitting at the piano. The music in Disney films drove our storytelling and we were continually influenced by the fanciful music we heard. Vance Gerry and I had storyboarded a delightful little sequence with Kaa the Snake and Mowgli. Walt Disney was pleased with the sequence but suggested a song was needed. Of course, it didn’t take long before Robert and Richard Sherman had a new tune ready to record. Vance and I headed over to Recording Stage A to attend the session with actor, Sterling Holloway. Once the song was recorded, Vance and I headed back to revise our storyboards. Of course, much of what you see in the final film was inspired by the music of Robert and Richard Sherman.
Of course, we talked about Baloo, King Louie, and the wonderment and magic the Old Maestro brought to a story meeting. Back then, no idea was sacred and whatever made the story better was eagerly accepted. As far as Walt Disney was concerned, the best idea always won and that was all that mattered. Back in the old Disney days, I remember the cigarettes and ashtrays that once littered the upstairs story rooms. Today, those rather disgusting items have been replaced by delicious snacks, and we always make sure there are plenty of snacks available when Richard Sherman decides to pay our department a visit. An hour had now quickly passed and the charismatic composer headed out the side door to his vehicle. He would be returning soon, he reminded us. After all, an hour with Richard Sherman is only warm up and he had a wealth of more stories to tell.