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New Documentary Spotlights Disney Music Icon Howard Ashman

Disney+ has just announced a new documentary heading to the service, about one of the most important figures in modern Disney history. Coming out August 7 is Howard, a film about the late, great Howard Ashman. If you’re unfamiliar with the name, you definitely know his music. Ashman was the lyricist who wrote the scores (together with Alan Menken) for The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, along with several songs from Aladdin.

Before his Disney days, he made a name for himself writing the music for the Broadway hit Little Shop of Horrors. He tragically died of AIDS at only 40 years of age. This was shortly before the release of Beauty and the Beast, for which he won a posthumous Academy Award. You can check out the trailer for Howard down below:

The documentary is directed by Don Hahn, who also directed the 2011 documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty, about the early days of the so-called “Disney Renaissance,” something of which Ashman was a key component. Without the triple success of Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, it’s unlikely that Walt Disney Animation Studios would have reemerged as an entertainment powerhouse.

Howard features never-before-seen archival footage, personal films, and photographs, as well as interviews with Ashman’s friends and family. The film is an intimate look at the musical 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 Ashman’s journey to become the lyricist behind some of the most beloved and well-known classic family films in the world. 

A photo of Howard Ashman on the poster for Disney+ biopic Howard.

The Walt Disney Company

In a statement, Hahn said, “You may not know his name, but you sure know Howard Ashman’s music. He’s one of the greatest storytellers of the twentieth century who helped to revitalize the American musical and re-energize Disney Animation. He left us a songbook that still lives on in us today, yet his personal story has never been fully told until now.”

Howard hits Disney+ on August 7.

Featured Image: Walt Disney Studios