25 Facts About Howard Ashman


Howard Elliott Ashman was an American playwright, lyricist and stage director.


Howard Ashman collaborated with composer Alan Menken on several works and is most widely known for his work on feature films for Walt Disney Animation Studios, for which Ashman wrote the lyrics and Menken composed the music.


Howard Ashman's work included songs for Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin.


Howard Ashman was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Shirley Thelma and Raymond Albert Howard Ashman, an ice cream cone manufacturer.


Howard Ashman started his theater experiences with the Children's Theater Association, playing roles such as Aladdin.


Howard Ashman first studied at Boston University and Goddard College and then went on to earn a masters degree in Fine Arts at Indiana Universityin 1974.


Howard Ashman met future collaborator Alan Menken at the BMI Workshop, where he was classmates with Maury Yeston and Ed Kleban, among others.


Howard Ashman first worked with Menken on the 1979 musical Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr Rosewater, adapted from Vonnegut's novel of the same name.


Howard Ashman directed the workshop of Nine by Yeston at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, and after asking why Guido's wife stays with him after she knows he has not been faithful, inspired Yeston to write "My Husband Makes Movies".


Howard Ashman was director, lyricist, and book writer for the 1986 Broadway musical Smile.


Howard Ashman then worked with Tina Turner on a script which never came to fruition.


Howard Ashman became a driving force during the early years of the "Disney Renaissance".


Howard Ashman would hold story meetings, and said the animation and musical styles were made for each other, which is why Disney needed to continue making musical movies.


Howard Ashman made strong choices in casting actors with strong musical theater and acting backgrounds.


In 1988, while working on The Little Mermaid, Howard Ashman pitched the idea of an animated musical adaptation of Aladdin to Disney.


Out of the 16 songs written for Aladdin, three of Howard Ashman's songs ended up in the finished film, which was released after his death.


Howard Ashman, wishing to focus on Aladdin and his health, reluctantly agreed.


Peter Kunze noted that Howard Ashman was supported by Jeffrey Katzenberg, with the company even creating a production unit near his home, so he could receive treatment at the Saint Vincent's Hospital in New York City to work on Beauty and the Beast, but survived to see the early private screening of the film.


Howard Ashman died on March 14,1991, at the age of 40 years old, and never saw the completed film.


Beauty and the Beast, released eight months later, was dedicated to his memory, featuring the message after the end credits: To our friend Howard Ashman, who gave a mermaid her voice, and a beast his soul.


Howard Ashman was buried in the Ohev Shalom Cemetery in Reistertown, Maryland, and survived by his sister, Sarah Gillespie, and his mother, Shirley Gershman.


Howard Ashman met Stuart White, one of his first partners, at a summer university program in 1969.


Howard Ashman then met Bill Lauch in 1984, who worked as an architect.


Howard Ashman won a posthumous Laurence Olivier Award and five Grammy Awards, among other accolades.


The documentary film titled Howard Ashman premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 22,2018, before having a limited theatrical run on December 18,2018.