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Ken Howard
Ken Howard 2014.jpg
1st National President of the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)
In office
2012 – March 23, 2016
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Gabrielle Carteris
28th President of the Screen Actors Guild
In office
Preceded by Alan Rosenberg
Succeeded by Merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
Personal details
Kenneth Joseph Gerard Howard Jr.

(1944-03-28)March 28, 1944
El Centro, California, U.S.
Died March 23, 2016(2016-03-23) (aged 71)
Valencia, California, U.S.
Education Amherst College (BA) (1966)
Yale University
Kent State University (MFA) (1999)
Occupation Actor, comedian, politician
Awards Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play
1970: Child's Play
Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in Children's Programming
1981: The Body Human
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
2009: Grey Gardens

Kenneth Joseph Howard Jr. (March 28, 1944 – March 23, 2016) was an American actor. He was known for his roles as Thomas Jefferson in 1776 and as basketball coach and former Chicago Bulls player Ken Reeves in the television show The White Shadow (1978–1981). Howard won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play in 1970 for his performance in Child's Play, and later won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his work in Grey Gardens (2009).

Howard was elected president of the actors' union, Screen Actors Guild (SAG), in September 2009 and reelected to a second term, in September 2011. He was the last president of the Screen Actors Guild and the first president of the newly combined SAG-AFTRA union, after the Screen Actors Guild and another union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), voted to merge in 2012. He was reelected in 2015.

Early life

Howard was born on March 28, 1944, in El Centro, California, the son of Martha Carey (née McDonald) and Kenneth Joseph Howard, a stockbroker, being the elder of their two sons. His younger brother, the late Don Howard, was also an actor and director. His approximately 6-foot 6-inch (1.98 m) stature earned him the nickname "Stork" as a high school student. He grew up in Manhasset, New York, on Long Island.

The nickname "The White Shadow" was given to him by the Long Island press in 1961, as, at age 17, Howard was the only white starter on the Manhasset High School varsity basketball team.

A member of the National Honor Society in high school, Howard turned down several offers of basketball scholarships in favor of a more focused academic education. He graduated in 1966 from Amherst College, where he served as captain of the basketball team. He was also a member of the a cappella singing group The Zumbyes. He attended Yale School of Drama but left to make his Broadway debut before completing his master's degree – which he achieved in 1999.


Howard began his career on Broadway in Promises, Promises with Jerry Orbach. In 1970, he won a Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Dramatic) for Child's Play. Howard later starred on Broadway as Thomas Jefferson in 1776 and reprised the role in the 1972 film. His other Broadway appearances included Seesaw in 1973 and The Norman Conquests. Howard portrayed several U.S. presidents in the 1975 Broadway musical 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and appeared as Warren G. Harding in Camping with Henry and Tom in 1995. He appeared in legitimate theater in many cities, most recently as Tip O'Neill in a one-man show According to Tip, at the New Repertory Theatre in Watertown, Massachusetts.


On television, Howard appeared as Ken Reeves, a Los Angeles high school basketball coach, in The White Shadow, produced by Bruce Paltrow in 1978. Howard had the starring role in the 1973 TV series Adam's Rib opposite his good friend (and Paltrow's wife) Blythe Danner, who also played wife Martha to his Thomas Jefferson in the film version of 1776. He starred in The Manhunter, a crime drama that was part of CBS's lineup for the 1974–75 television season.

Howard starred in the TV movie Father Damien in 1980 and won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1981 for his performance as the ideal father in the CBS afternoon special The Body Human: Facts for Boys. Howard's additional credits included "Sidney Sheldon's Rage of Angels, 1983", the 2000 miniseries Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, and the feature film Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, both co-starring Kris Kristofferson. He played the title character in the 1984 American Playhouse production of Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson, having earlier played Twain on Bonanza. Later, he appeared as Garrett Boydston in Dynasty and its spin-off The Colbys. In the early 1990s, he appeared on Murder, She Wrote and, from 2001–04, in Crossing Jordan as the title character's father. In 2007, he appeared in the Jimmy Smits series Cane.

Howard guest-starred on numerous television dramas. He was guest villain in Hart to Hart Returns, a 1993 made-for-TV movie. He also appeared in season one of The West Wing as President Bartlet's first choice for US Supreme Court Justice in the episode "The Short List". His other dramatic guest roles included NYPD Blue, The Practice, Boston Legal, Cold Case, Eli Stone, Brothers and Sisters, Law & Order: SVU, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Fairly Legal, Crossing Jordan, The Closer, Blue Bloods, The Golden Girls, The Office, and 30 Rock.


Howard made his movie debut in 1970, in Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, opposite Liza Minnelli. Numerous dramatic and comedic movie roles followed, including: Such Good Friends, 1776, The Strange Vengeance of Rosalie, Independence, Second Thoughts, Oscar with Sylvester Stallone in 1991, Ulterior Motives, Clear and Present Danger with Harrison Ford in 1994, The Net with Sandra Bullock in 1995, Tactical Assault, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, and In Her Shoes in 2005.

In 2007, Howard appeared again with Stallone in Rambo, and in George Clooney's Michael Clayton. In 2010, he starred in The Numbers Game with Steven Bauer. He next appeared as Harlan F. Stone in Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar.

He gave an acclaimed performance as Phelan Beale in the 2009 HBO film Grey Gardens, playing opposite Jessica Lange, for which he received an Emmy Award. His last films were Better Living Through Chemistry (2013), A.C.O.D.(2013), The Judge (2014), The Wedding Ringer (2015) and the biographical comedy-drama film Joy (2015).

Ken Howard was elected the National President of the Screen Actors Guild on September 24, 2009.


Howard was the author of the 2003 book Act Natural: How to Speak to Any Audience, based on the drama courses he had taught at Harvard University. He was a popular reader for audiobooks.

Personal life

Howard was married three times. His first wife was actress Louise Sorel (m. 1973–75). His second wife was writer and advice columnist Margo Howard (m. 1977–91). His final marriage was to stuntwoman Linda Fetters Howard (m. 1992–2016).


The SAG-AFTRA actors' union announced Howard's death on Wednesday, March 23, 2016, five days before his 72nd birthday, although no cause was given. The Hollywood Reporter noted that Howard "was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer in 2007 and was recently hospitalized with a case of shingles." However, Howard died of pneumonia complicated by shingles and prostate cancer in Valencia, California. He was the first and, to date, only Screen Actors Guild or SAG-AFTRA national president to die in office.

George Clooney, in whose 2007 legal thriller, Michael Clayton, Howard appeared, remembered having met him for the first time, in 1983 at 20th Century Fox, as a fan of The White Shadow.



Year Title Role Notes
1970 Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon Arthur
1971 Such Good Friends Cal
1972 The Strange Vengeance of Rosalie Virgil
1776 Thomas Jefferson
1976 Independence Thomas Jefferson Short film directed by John Huston.
1983 Second Thoughts John Michael
1991 Oscar Kirkwood
1993 Ulterior Motives Malcolm Carter
1994 Clear and Present Danger Committee Chairman
1995 The Net Michael Bergstrom
1998 Tactical Assault General Horace White
1999 At First Sight Virgil's Father
1999 "A Vow to Cherish" John Brighton Directed by John Schmidt and co-starring Ossie Davis
2004 Stuck Marty Short film directed by Clark Harris.
Double Dare Himself Documentary film
2005 Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story Bill Ford
In Her Shoes Michael Feller
2006 Arc Santee
2007 Michael Clayton Don Jeffries
2008 Rambo Father Arthur Marsh
Under Still Waters Conrad
Smother Gene Cooper
2009 Two:Thirteen Sheriff Sedgewick
The Beacon Officer Bobby Ford
2010 A The Numbers Game Harold
2011 J. Edgar Harlan F. Stone
2012 A Fighting Man George Short film
Just an American Dr. Sullivan
2013 A.C.O.D. Gary
2014 Better Living Through Chemistry Walter Bishop
The Judge Judge Warren
2015 The Wedding Ringer Ed Palmer
Joy Mop Executive Final Film Role


Year Title Role Notes
1969 N.Y.P.D. Rick Crossfield Episode: "Everybody Loved Him"
1972 Bonanza Samuel Clemens Episode: "The Twenty-Sixth Grave"
Medical Center Kevin Morgan Episode: "The Outcast"
1973 Adam's Rib Adam Bonner Contract role
1974 Manhunter Dave Barrett
1974–75 The Manhunter Dave Barrett Contract role
1977 The Court Martial of George Custer Prosecuting attorney Made-for-TV movie
1978 Superdome Dave Walecki Made-for-TV movie
The Critical List Nels Freiberg Made-for-TV movie
A Real American Hero Danny Boy Mitchell Made-for-TV movie
1978–81 The White Shadow Ken Reeves Contract role
1980 Father Damien: The Leper Priest Father Damien Made-for-TV movie
1982 Victims Joe Buckley Made-for-TV movie
The Country Girl Bernie Dodd Made-for-TV movie
1983 It's Not Easy Jack Long Contract role
1983 Rage of Angels Adam Warner Miniseries
The Thorn Birds Rainer Hartheim Miniseries
1984 Glitter Senator Episode: "Pilot"
He's Not Your Son Michael Saunders Made-for-TV
American Playhouse Pudd'nhead Wilson Episode: "Pudd'nhead Wilson"
Hotel Bill Tillery Episode: "Passages"
1985–86 Dynasty Garrett Boydston Recurring
The Colbys Recurring
1985 Hotel Malcolm Taylor Episode: "Missing Pieces"
1986 Rage of Angels: The Story Continues Adam J. Warner Made-for-TV-Movie
Dream Girl, U.S.A. TV Host Contract role
1988 American Playhouse Sam Evans Episode: "Strange Interlude"
The Man in the Brown Suit Gordon Race Made-for-TV-Movie
1985–1989 Murder, She Wrote Various Roles 6 episodes
1991 Deadly Nightmares Dubois Episode: "Homecoming"
P.S. I Luv U Jack Packer Episode: "Pilot"
Murder in New Hampshire Bill Smart Made-for-TV-Movie
Memories of Midnight Kirk Reynolds Made-for-TV-Movie
1992 The Golden Girls Jerry Episode: "The Commitments"
Mastergate Courtleigh Bishop Made-for-TV-Movie
What Happened? Host Documentary
1993 Batman: The Animated Series Hartness Episode: "See No Evil"
Hart to Hart Returns Dr. Paul Menard Made-for-TV-Movie
1994 One West Waikiki Ronald Markham Episode: "Til Death Do Us Part"
Moment of Truth: To Walk Again Ed Keating Made-for-TV-Movie
Captain Planet and the Planeteers Voice Episode: "A River Ran Through It"
1994–98 Melrose Place Mr. George Andrews Recurring
1995 Op Center The President Miniseries
Her Hidden Truth Jack Devereaux Made-for-TV-Movie
1996 Diagnosis: Murder Special Agent Dunleavy 1 episode
Arli$$ Rocky Episode: "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of"
The Client Charlie Braxton Episode: "Money Talks"
1997 Something Borrowed, Something Blue Senator John Farrell Made-for-TV-Movie
Diagnosis: Murder David Clarke Episode: "Slam Dunk Dead"
The Practice Senator Frank Patanki Episode: "Hide and Seek"
1999 The West Wing Judge Peyton Cabot Harrison III Episode: "The Short List"
A Vow To Cherish John Brighton Made-for-TV-Movie
2000 The Practice Defense Atty. Bradford Episode: "Race Ipsa Loquitor"
Perfect Murder, Perfect Town Alex Hunter Miniseries
2001–05 Crossing Jordan Max Cavanaugh Recurring
2001 Family Law Reardon Episode: "Film at Eleven"
Arli$$ Coach Dreyfuss Episode: "Of Cabbages and Kings"
2004 Curb Your Enthusiasm Ken Abbot Episodes: 2 episodes
A Boyfriend for Christmas Judge Uncredited
2006 The Office Ed Truck Episode: "The Carpet"
George Lopez Dr. Woodson Episode: "The Kidney Stays in the Picture"
Ghost Whisperer Judge Walter Merrick Episode: "Fury"
Huff Walt Callahan 2 episodes
Conviction Judge Hanford Episode: "The Wall"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Dr. Arlen Rieff Episode: "Cage"
2007 Sacrifices of the Heart Thane Weston Made-for-TV-movie
The Nine Alvy Munson Episode: "Man of the Year"
Cane Joe Samuels Recurring
2008 Brothers & Sisters Boyd Taylor Episode: "Double Negative"
Eli Stone Thomas Hayes Episode: "Grace"
Boston Legal Judge Walter Yardley Episode: "Kill, Baby, Kill!"
Dirty ... Money Evan Connello Episode: "The Summer House"
2009 Cold Case Harry Kemp Jr. '58 Episode: "Libertyville"
Grey Gardens Phelan Beale Television Movie, HBO
2011–13 30 Rock Hank Hooper Recurring – 9 episodes
2011 The Council of Dads Burt Wells Made-for-TV movie
Fairly Legal Charles Pease Episode: "Pilot"
The Closer Wes Durant Episode: "Star Turn"
2012 The Young and the Restless George Summers 3 episodes
Blue Bloods Malcolm Episode: "Nightmares"
Counter Culture Ken Made-for-TV movie
2014 The McCarthys Coach Colwell Episode: "Pilot"


Year Title Role Theatre Ref.
1968–72 Promises, Promises Bartender Eddie
Karl Kubelik
The Shubert Theatre, Broadway
1969–72 1776 Thomas Jefferson 46th Street Theatre
St. James Theatre
Majestic Theatre, Broadway
1970 Child's Play Paul Reese Royale Theatre, Broadway
1971 JFK Designer Circle in the Square
1973 Seesaw Jerry Ryan Uris Theatre
Mark Hellinger Theatre
1975 Little Black Sheep Jack Hassler Vivian Beaumont Theatre
1975–76 The Norman Conquest Trilogy Tom Morosco Theatre
1976 Equus Performer National Company
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue The President Mark Hellinger Theatre
1988–90 Rumors Glenn Cooper Broadhurst Theatre
Ethel Barrymore Theatre
1995 Camping with Henry and Tom Warren G. Harding Lucille Lortel Theatre
1996 In the Moonlight Eddie Director Pasadena Playhouse
2007 According to Tip Tip O'Neil New Repertory Theatre
2010 Hopeless Romantic Michael Hanley Center Stage Theater, Santa Barbara
2012 Golden Child Assistant Director Pershing Square Signature Center
The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1969 Theatre World Award N/A 1776 Won
1970 Tony Award Best Featured Actor in a Play Child's Play Won
1981 Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Performer in Children's Programming The Body Human: Facts for Boys Won
2009 Online Film & TV Association Award Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Grey Gardens Nominated
2010 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Grey Gardens Won

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Ken Howard para niños

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