Ken Howard dies at 71

Thanks for the amazing memories, Ken!!

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The White Shadow star and SAG-AFTRA Chief Ken Howard dies at 71.

Ken Howard headed Screen Actors Guild and helped merger with AFTRA. Ken Howard starred in the 1970s series The White Shadow and had notable guest roles in such programs as 30 Rock and was the head of the SAG-AFTRA actors’ union died Wednesday.

The SAG-AFTRA confirmed by a statement about the death of Howard.

The union’s statement is: ‘We are deeply saddened to announce that SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard passed away today. Ken was an accomplished actor, author, teacher and unionist whose steady leadership as president of Screen Actors Guild positioned him to guide the union’s historic 2012 merger with American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. In addition to his many professional credits, awards and other laudatory work, he led the union for nearly seven years and was devoted to the interests of its membership.” The cause of death was not announced along with the statement though.

Howard was educated in Amherst and Yale, and then Howard first rose to fame for his portrayal of Thomas Jefferson in the 1969 musical 1776, it is a role he also performed in the 1972 screen version even before that. He won a Tony for his performance in the work ‘Child’s Play’ in 1970.

He was known for starring as Ken Reeves and the white basketball coach of an inner-city Los Angeles high school in the series The White Shadow for many fans.

But for many fans, he was known for starring as Ken Reeves, the white basketball coach of an inner-city Los Angeles high school in the series “The White Shadow.”  The 6-foot-6 Howard who is a high school star in his own right as well had been the only white player on his team and pitched the idea to producer-writer Bruce Paltrow. The White Shadow never scored highly in the ratings but was lauded for its unflinching storylines- in one episode a player was shot to death during a robbery and terrific performances.

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Howard appeared in a number of TV series and movies after The White Shadow left the air for good. He was then regular on Dynasty and The Colbys in the mid-1980s, and popped up repeatedly on ‘Murder, She Wrote’ and was the head of Kabletown in ‘30 Rock’ He won an Emmy for his performance in the TV movie ‘Grey Gardens’ and then became head of the Screen Actors Guild in 2009. 2012 is when the union merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio.

SAG-AFTRA praised Howard’s leadership along with their statement. It reads: “He will be remembered not only as the final president of Screen Actors Guild and the man who led it successfully to unite with AFTRA, but also as the first president to be elected by the members of SAG-AFTRA. He was proud and honored to embody that continuity”. Howard is survived by his wife Linda Fetters Howard and three stepchildren from a previous marriage according to the union.