#ThrowbackThursday: “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” by Julie Andrews And Dick Van Dyke (Written By The Sherman Brothers)Video Still From “Marry Poppins” Walt Disney Productions
By Matt Clizbe
As I step up to fill in for Sean Smith, #ThrowbackThursday’s regular writer, I chose to spotlight the fantastic music of the Walt Disney masterpiece Mary Poppins. The 1964 classic found its way back into the modern day new cycle this week because two of the film’s stars, Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, attended the premier of Walt Disney Pictures’ Saving Mr. Banks. The film which stars Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, chronicles the revolutionary studio head’s personal journey to get the film made. Following a 20 year courtship of Marry Poppins’ author P L Travers, Disney enlisted the studio’s resident songwriting duo The Sherman Brothers to help him use songs and musical numbers to weave the series of short stories into a full length feature film that matched Walt’s unique vision.
The Sherman Brothers, who were Robert & Richard Sherman, began their relationship with the Disney company in 1959 by penning the top ten hit “Tall Paul” for former Mouseketeer Annette Funicello, hit their career stride in 1960 as Walt’s go to songwriters for Marry Poppins. As explained in the The Making Of Marry Poppins, the duo’s work would become essential to the film’s success. Disney had them work personally with him for 2 years, writing songs that would help develop the movie’s concept and plot in order to get Travers’ final permission to adapt her stories into a film. When it was all said and done the brothers had written 15 genuine classics for the film, and even had a hand in suggesting that Julie Andrews be cast in the title role.
Their creative involvement with Disney can be seen in the Saving Mr. Banks trailer. While helping Walt pitch the film to Travers, they are shown nervously handling the sheet music for “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” after the author expresses her distaste for made up words. Aside from the fact that “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” was obviously one of those made up words, the song went on to become a classic signature of the character, and has even gone down in history as the 5th longest word in the English language.
The Sherman Brothers’ contributions to Marry Poppins made them into songwriting legends. Along with Julie Andrews, their work helped the Disney studio win its first string of Oscars since Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. From then on their name would become synonymous with iconic theatrical music. For decades they continued to shape Pop culture with songs for features likes of It’s A Small World, Jungle Book, Winnie The Pooh, Charlottes Web, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and more.
No matter what the accolades were, both brothers are often seen in various documentaries, thankfully crediting all of that success to those unique years in the early 1960s, when the boys worked hand in hand with Walt, helping create some of his finest Disney magic. I think the whole thing is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. So, in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Marry Poppins, and the forthcoming Saving Mr. Banks, this week’s #ThrowbackThursday is “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Enjoy!
Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke
Walt Disney Productions