Howard Ashman (May 17, 1950 – March 14, 1991) was an American playwright and movie music lyricist. Ashman first studied at Boston University and Goddard College (with a stop at Tufts University's Summer Theater) and then went on to achieve his master's degree from Indiana University in 1974. He collaborated with Alan Menken on several films, notably animated features for Disney, Ashman writing the lyrics and Menken composing the scores.
Ashman was born Howard Elliott Ashman into a Jewish family in Baltimore, Maryland and was the artistic director of the WPA Theater in New York. His play, The Confirmation, was produced in 1979 at Princeton's McCarter Theater and starred Herschel Bernardi. He first worked with Alan Menken on a 1979 musical adapted from Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. They also collaborated on Little Shop of Horrors with Ashman as director, lyricist, and librettist, winning the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics.
Ashman was director, lyricist and bookwriter for the 1986 Broadway musical, Smile (music by Marvin Hamlisch). Also in 1986, Ashman wrote the screenplay for the Frank Oz directed film adaptation of his musical, Little Shop of Horrors (film), as well as contributing the lyrics for two new songs, "Some Fun Now" and "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space," the latter of which received an Academy Award nomination. Along with Menken, Ashman was the co-recipient of two Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes and two Oscars. His second Academy Award in 1992 was awarded posthumously for Best Song and was accepted by his partner, Bill Lauch.