Da Doo Blog

A Birthday Thank You


Once again, it’s Howard’s birthday.  He would be 65 years old today.

Which means he’d be eligible for all sorts of goodies by now.  His AARP membership would be in good standing, Medicare and Social Security would have kicked in and then there are those discounts on Metro-North trains, movie tickets and early bird specials.

I can’t reconcile it.  I can’t reconcile the young and vibrant brother I remember…  the boy wonder, with a senior citizen.

Even at the worst.  Even when his body had been so thoroughly ravaged, Howard was a too young man dying at too young an age.  He was never old.

I, on the other hand, have marched on with the winds of time – or something like that.  Grey hair, aging parent, irritation at youthful fashions – I’m all in.  And I really, really wish Howard were here to share it with me.  Because his eye was always more jaundiced than mine, his wit sharper, his laugh louder.

I have no idea what Howard would have thought about social media.  I know he loved the idea of computers and was an early user of a portable computer to go back and forth to LA for his Disney work (it was the size of a carry-on suitcase – the ones that are really too big to be carried on).  He clearly loved to communicate and to amuse – I have a funny feeling he’d be of the Stephen Fry school of Twitter.  Or  maybe not.  I try not to answer questions that begin, “what do you think Howard would say…” but it’s always tempting.

So I don’t know if Howard would be a user of social media.  But I do know that I’m thankful it exists.  Because without it, I would never have learned about Howard’s fans.  The ones who grew up on Mermaid and Beauty, who did Little Shop in High School and who stay loyal and in awe of Howard and his work to this day.

Thank you all for reading, for listening, for caring.  Happy May 17th.

















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Posted on: May 17th, 2015 by Sarah Ashman Gillespie 7 Comments

7 Responses

  1. Fabio says:

    Hey Sarah,

    I just wanted to let you know that I am a huge fan and admirer of Howard’s life and work. Even though I was not even born when he passed away, I don’t only admire him because of his Disney work which helped build part of my childhood with Beauty and the Beast and those beautiful songs, but after reading about his life at different websites he also inspires me because of the hard worker and brave person he was. Thank you sharing with us your brother’s life and how we can find inspiration in him. Your mission with this site is, after all, us to remember Howard as the person he was rather than the typical “Disney hero”. Certainly you have managed to achieve this, as his soul is still alive for me although I am only 16 years old and not even from the United States (I am from Bogotá, D.C, Colombia) so you can now imagine the impact of this great project.

    Sorry for bad english if there are any mistakes.

    Fabio Restrepo

  2. Jesse G. says:

    A happy belated birthday to a sorely missed genius.

    I just recently discovered this website and it is fascinating. Im a Disnerd to the fullest and it really has been one of the joys of my life reading and learning about how influential he was- not only at Disney but in the field of Animation in general. Especially awesome to see the likes of John Musker and co posting in his honor (though I regret missing Q&A posts!). Just beautiful.

    Thank you for preserving your brother’s legacy with this page. It is wonderful and powerful. It truly is a testament to Howard’s sheer brilliance that so many people still want to know his history and what made him tick.

    Peace and love always…

  3. David Z says:

    Lovely post, Sarah, like all your posts.

    I never knew Howard; I was 11 when he passed. I’m not generally a great fan of musicals or Broadway, but his work was something special. He had vision. You can see a snapshot in the YouTube video where he’s coaching Jodi Benson on her performance of Part of Your World. All the parts that make it great–the strain, the pent-up intensity, the reserve–he understands them. There’s more longing in that song than in the past 10 years’ worth of top 40 hits combined. He was brilliant, and without him I would have missed something in my life.

    I can’t imagine what losing him has been like for his family. I’m truly sorry for your loss. You’ve created a fantastic presence for him in this website and blog. I want you to know that I appreciate it, and I’m sure his other fans do too.

    Happy birthday Howard!

  4. Rosie says:

    Lovely post Sarah – and such a nice picture too :)

    Happy Birthday Howard :)

  5. Dan Bonnell says:

    It was good to think of Howard today—all the shows we did together in college… and the early days in NYC. I miss him too, Sarah.

  6. Saskia says:

    Thank you for another touching post, and for sharing such a lovely, sweet picture. Happy birthday Howard!

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