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Don Hahn Explores The Life Of Disney Lyrical Mastermind Howard Ashman In New Documentary ‘Howard’

Playwright and lyricist Howard Ashman in the documentary
Playwright and lyricist Howard Ashman in the documentary "Howard".
Disney+/"Howard" (2020)

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Think about some of Disney’s most iconic songs. Hits that have become classics and bring on that wave of nostalgia. Chances are, lyricist Howard Ashman had a hand in writing some of your favorite Disney tunes.

Howard Ashman’s life and career is explored in writer and director Don Hahn’s documentary “Howard”. From Broadway to Disney, Ashman made a name for himself as an accomplished writer in the musical world. He and his frequent collaborator, composer Alan Menken, were the masterminds behind the Broadway classics “God Bless You, Mr Rosewater” and “Little Shop of Horrors”. The latter of which later went on to see long-running success and eventually be turned into the 1986 feature film.

But it’s with Disney that Ashman created some of his most recognizable work. Ashman’s lyrics played a role in the success of Disney’s Renaissance era. He, along with Menken, wrote music for “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and The Beast,” and “Aladdin”. Together, the musical duo produced numerous Disney classics like “Part of Your World” and “Be Our Guest”. Their work with Disney received critical acclaim and a number of accolades that included Academy Awards, Grammys and Golden Globes. Ashman continued his creative partnership with Disney until the very end of his life when he died of complications from AIDS. In 2011, Disney recognized Ashman’s impact and work by honoring him with the Disney Legend award.

Hahn had worked with Ashman as a producer on “Beauty and The Beast”. He hopes this documentary shares not only Ashman’s highs, but his lows through his creative struggles and eventual battle with AIDS. Today on FilmWeek, writer and director Don Hahn joins us to discuss Howard Ashman’s life, what it was like working with the lyricist, and what audiences will take away from the film.


Don Hahn, writer and director of the documentary “Howard”; film producer whose credits include “The Lion King” and “Beauty And The Beast”