The White Shadow Made His Mark

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The Penn Relays held at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, April 28-29, 1962. From left: Jim Thorpe, Bill Piggott, Ken Howard, Paddy McCrary

Ken Howard died on Wednesday, March 23, at the age of 71 in his Los Angeles home. Howard was very close to his hometown, Manhasset. Rev. Jimmy Only of Manhasset’s Congregational Church said, “The last time he was here was for the funeral of Fritz Mueller (2015), his Manhasset High School basketball coach who inspired the 1970’s TV show The White Shadow.”

Howard, who attended Manhasset High and played All-County there, was inducted into the Manhasset High School’s Hall of Fame in 2009 along with his former coach. The actor was best known for his role in the CBS TV series The White Shadow, where he played Coach Ken Reeves and drew from his own experiences on his high school basketball team. Howard was a Tony and Emmy Award-winning actor and president of SAG-AFTRA.

“I played at Manhasset High for a wonderful coach named Fritz Mueller,” he told The Sporting News in 2005. “My nickname, then, was White Shadow. My senior year, I was the only white guy in the starting five. Our colors were orange and blue, like Carver High.”

Howard made his Broadway debut in Neil Simon’s Promises, Promises. He made appearances on TV and in movies. His most recent appearance was alongside Jennifer Lawrence in the film Joy.

Aside from warming the hearts of audiences on prime-time television and on the big screen, the 6’6’’ actor has made even more of a contribution to the world of acting as he was also elected president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) in 2009. Howard was asked by friends to help stabilize the then troubled SAG, and in 2011 he was reelected after promising to unite SAG with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). While speaking on behalf of SAG-AFTRA, Howard said uniting the union was “the most important thing I have ever done.”

Howard was born March 28, 1944, in El Centro, California, to Kenneth Joseph and Martha Carey Howard. He had a younger brother, Donald Howard, also an actor. All are deceased. Howard is survived by his wife of 25 years, professional stuntwoman Linda Fetters Howard. In lieu of flowers, remembrance contributions may be made to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and the Onyx and Breezy Foundation for the Welfare of Animals.

—Rohanie Paraboo
contributed to the story

 

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Elizabeth Johnson is editor of Manhasset Press and Manhasset Press Magazine. Growing up in nearby Garden City and attending New York University, she is well-versed in the locale and knowledgeable about the beat she covers. Her community involvement is extensive and includes the Manhasset SCA, Kiwanis International, Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s Church, and various civic and local charitable organizations. Curious by nature, her travels, community service, love of the arts as well as local sports give her the inside view to unique content. During her time at Anton, she has received several awards from the New York Press Association and the Press Club of LI, including the coveted "Best Community Newspaper" several years in a row.

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