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.
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