If you grew up loving Disney films like Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin, you grew up loving Howard Ashman. The brilliant lyricist partnered with Alan Menken on all three of those projects as well as the Broadway classic Little Shop of Horrors. Ashman was also a pioneer in the LGBTQ community who died tragically of AIDS at just 40 years old in 1991 during the production of Beauty and the Beast, with the film dedicated to him with these beautiful words: “To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, we will be forever grateful.” It cannot be overstated how much of an impact Ashman had on Disney’s so-called “Golden Age,” and now Disney+ will release a documentary about his extraordinary life.
Howard is directed by Don Hahn and will feature interviews with some of Ashman’s best collaborators and friends including Menken, Jodi Benson (Ariel), Paige O’Hara (Belle), Sarah Gillespie (Ashman’s sister), and Bill Lauch (Ashman’s partner, whose emotional acceptance of Ashman’s posthumous Academy Award is incredibly moving). The official synopsis released by Disney states,
“Howard” is the untold story of Howard Ashman, the brilliant lyricist behind Disney classics like “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid” and creator of musicals including “Little Shop of Horrors.” Featuring never-before-seen archival footage, personal films and photographs, as well as interviews with Howard’s friends and family, the film is an intimate look at the Disney Legend’s life, his creative drive, and the process behind the music. Spanning his childhood in Baltimore, to his formative years in New York, and his untimely death from AIDS, “Howard” goes in-depth to explore his journey to become the lyricist behind some of the most beloved and well-known classic family films in the world.
Howard will be released on August 7 on Disney+. Check out the trailer below!