Remembering the lyricist behind ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Aladdin’

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Howard Ashman and Paige O’Hara during the recording of the “Beauty and the Beast” soundtrack. Photo courtesy of Disney.

The new documentary “Howard,” directed by “Beauty and the Beast” producer Don Hahn, looks at the life and legacy of Howard Ashman, the man behind some of the most beloved lyrics in the history of show business. Hahn and Alan Menken, Ashman’s songwriting partner, share memories of their friend and collaborator.

Menken and Ashman wrote memorable songs for “The Little Mermaid,” including ”Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” and “Kiss the Girl.” 

Ashman learned of his AIDS diagnosis during the press tour for “The Little Mermaid,” and his health quickly deteriorated as he continued working with Disney. He finished “Beauty and the Beast” from his hospital bed, and by the time the film’s theme song won an Academy Award in 1992, Ashman had died. His partner Bill Lauch accepted his Oscar in his place. 

The film “Howard,” now streaming on Disney+, draws on archival footage and interviews with Ashman’s partner, family, and creative collaborators. Hahn and Menken share their remembrances of their old friend.



Kim Masters


Kaitlin Parker