David Joel Zippel (born May 17, 1954) is an American musical theatre lyricist.


Zippel was born in Easton, Pennsylvania. He is a 1976 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. While there, he wrote a "bizarre political musical" called Rotunda. He had intended on going to Harvard Law School to become a theatrical lawyer, but when he met Wally Harper (at the time Barbara Cook's accompanist and was in need of a lyricist), Zippel offered his services. Two of the songs they wrote together were used when Cook sang at Carnegie Hall.[1] According to his official biography, "he is delighted not to practice law."[citation needed]

He also wrote the theme song to Veronica's Closet.[2]


His theatrical credits include:

Zippel contributed lyrics to The Swan Princess (music by Lex de Azevedo, the song Far Longer than Forever was nominated for a Golden Globe Award), as well as provided the singing voice of Jean-Bob the Frog, and more notably wrote the lyrics for the Disney films Hercules, with music by Alan Menken (the song "Go the Distance" received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song) and Mulan, with music by Matthew Wilder. The music and lyrics received an Academy Award nomination for Best Musical or Comedy Score. He was in his agent Richard Kraft's film Finding Kraftland.

Current unproduced projects include Buzz! (with Menken and Gelbart), The Private Lives of Napoleon and Josephine (with Coleman and Gelbart), and Going Hollywood (1981), an unproduced adaptation of Once in a Lifetime by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart; book by Zippel and Joe Leonardo, music by Jonathan Sheffer.[3]

Pamela's First Musical, written with Coleman and Wendy Wasserstein, based on Wasserstein's children's book, received its world premiere in a concert staging at Town Hall in New York City on May 18, 2008.[4]

In 2011, Zippel wrote the lyrics to the song "The Star-Spangled Man" featured in the film Captain America: The First Avenger. Alan Menken composed the music for the song, which was an affectionate send-up of 1940s Irving Berlin songs.[5][6]