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Shivah Stars

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Richard Sherman, Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, and Robert Sherman(Disney Enterprises)

Each week, we select the most interesting Jewish obituary. This week there are quite a few names: Stan Stearns, who took the iconic shot of John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father’s coffin; Zollie Volchok, who turned professional basketball into crowd-pleasing theater; and two-time world table tennis champion Sol Schiff.

This week, though, it’s got to be songwriter Robert Sherman. With his brother Richard he wrote songs for Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, and many others. They also wrote “It’s a Small World After All.” The brothers won two academy awards, and although they claimed to share the duties, Robert was known to be “the word man” and Richard “the music man.”

Robert was born in Brooklyn in 1925; his father, Al, came to the country as a Russian refugee before becoming a Tin Pan Alley Composer; his mother was Rosa Dancis, a silent film actress. Robert enlisted in the Army at 17 and served in Europe where he was shot and was part of the first American military unit to enter Dachau after its evacuation.

Photojournalist Stan Stearns, Took ‘Salute’ Photo at JFK funeral, dies at 76. [JTA]
Sol Schiff, Mr. Table Tennis, Dies at 94 [NYT]
Zollie Volchok, an N.B.A. Showman, Is Dead at 95. [NYT]
Robert. B. Sherman, a Songwriter for Disney and Others, Dies at 86. [NYT]

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Thanks for the mention on Stearns. I wish I had had time to get to the others. In my piece on Sherman, I talked about his paintings, as well, including those with Jewish themes he has donated to synagogues in Scotland and England. And I was happy also to find out that along with sugar-coated pop confections for Disney, his “You’re 16″ was recorded by Johnny Burnette – one of the greatest rockabilly stars – and Ringo. It redeems him from “Tall Paul” for Annette Funicello.


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Shivah Stars

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