US Premier: November 15, 1989

Based on  Hans Christian Anderson's beloved folk tale. 

Howard Ashman
Howard Ashman
Howard Ashman
Howard Ashman

A caricature by Mermaid colleague, John Musker

Howard Ashman

Alan Menken, Pat Carroll, Howard

Howard Ashman
Howard Ashman

While in Denmark for Little Shop, Howard posed with a statue of Hans Christian Anderson, the man who first created the story of the Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid Film
Directed and written by
Ron Clements and John Musker
Lyrics by Howard Ashman
Music by Alan Menken
Co-Producers: Howard Ashman, John Musker

Ariel is a headstrong young mermaid who wants something more than her life under the sea:

What would I give if I could live outta these waters
What would I pay to spend a day warm on the sand
Betcha on land they understand
Bet they don’t reprimand their daughers
Bright young women, sick of swimmin’
Ready to stand

Ariel’s friend and tutor, Sebastian the Crab tries to convince her that life is great right where she is:

Under the sea
Under the sea
Nobody beat us, fry us and eat us in fricassee
We what the land folks loves to cook
Under the sea we off the hook
We got no troubles
Life is the bubbles
Under the sea

But Ariel falls in love with a human prince and makes a deal with her evil Aunt Ursula:

I admit that in the past
I’ve been a nasty
They weren’t kidding when the called me, well, a witch

Sacrificing her voice for legs so that she can follow handsome Prince Eric, Ariel almost loses all before true love wins out.


The Little Mermaid was the harbinger of the renaissance of Disney animation.

As a writer, Ashman was evocative and accessible but also edgy and irreverent. It was his idea to transform the witch Ursula into a larger than life character, and to turn Sebastian the Crab, Ariel’s guardian, into a clever wise-cracking Trinidadian…”
              Michael Eisner (from Work in Progress)

Fathoms Below
Daughters of Triton
Part of Your World
Under The Sea
Poor Unfortunate Souls
Les Poissons
Kiss The Girl

Academy Award: Best Song (Under The Sea)
Golden Globe: Best Song (Under The Sea)
Grammy: Best Song Written for A Motion Picture (Under The Sea)

The Little Mermaid (Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theater 2008)

A Broadway musical based upon the hit film opened 17 years after Howard’s death. The show featured all of Howard’s lyrics with additional music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Glen Slater.