Died: March 23, 2016 (at age 71)
Birthplace: El Centro, California, U.S.
Kenneth Joseph Howard Jr. (March 28, 1944 - March 23, 2016) was an American actor, best 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 formed union, SAG-AFTRA, 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.
Howard was born in El Centro, California, the son of Martha Carey (née McDonald) and Kenneth Joseph Howard, Sr., a stockbroker, being the elder of their two sons. His younger brother, the late Don Howard, was also an actor, famous for directing Deathtrap (play), in 1980, starring William Shatner, in Denver. 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. Howard had basketball in his blood well before The White Shadow debuted. The nickname "The White Shadow" was given to him by the Long Island press in 1961, as 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.
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.
|This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.|
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 Bruce Paltrow's wife, Blythe Danner (who also played wife Martha to his Thomas Jefferson in the film 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 Mark 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 critically acclaimed 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, Dirty Sexy Money, 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 movie roles followed, in both dramatic and comedic roles, 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 Sylvester Stallone in Rambo, and in Michael Clayton as the villain to George Clooney's hero. 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.
Actors' union SAG-AFTRA announced his death on Wednesday, March 23, 2016, five days before his 72nd birthday, but gave no cause. Executive Director David White said: "Ken was a remarkable leader and his powerful vision for this union was a source of inspiration for all of us."
George Clooney, his co-star of the 2007 legal thriller Michael Clayton, remembered having met him for the first time, in 1983 at 20th Century Fox, as a fan of The White Shadow.
Linda Fetters Howard, stuntwoman, was his wife from 1992 to 2016. His previous wives include writer Margo Howard; (m. 1977-1991), and American actress Louise Sorel (m. 1973-1975).
|1970||Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon||Arthur||Technicolor drama film directed and produced by Otto Preminger.|
|1971||Such Good Friends||Cal||Comedy-drama film directed by Otto Preminger.|
|1972||The Strange Vengeance of Rosalie||Virgil||Thriller film directed by Jack Starrett.|
|1776||Thomas Jefferson (VA)||
|1976||Independence||Thomas Jefferson||Short film directedby John Huston.|
|1983||Second Thoughts||John Michael||Drama film directed by Lawrence Turman|
|1993||Ulterior Motives||Malcolm Carter||Action-drama film directed and co-written by James Becket.|
|1994||Clear and Present Danger||Committee Chairman||Spy thriller film directed by Phillip Noyce, based on Tom Clancy's book of the same name.|
|1995||The Net||Bergstrom||Cyberaction thriller film directed by Irwin Winkler.|
|1998||Tactical Assault||General Horace White||Action-thriller film directed by Mark Griffiths.|
|1999||At First Sight||Virgil's Father||Romantic drama film directed by Irwin Winkler.|
|2004||Stuck||Marty||Short film directed by Clark Harris.|
|Double Dare||Himself||Documentary film about stuntwomendirected by Amanda Micheli.|
|2005||Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story||Bill Ford||American family sports drama film written and directed by John Gatins.|
|In Her Shoes||Michael Feller||Comedy-drama film based on the novel of the same name by Jennifer Weiner and directed by Curtis Hanson.|
|2006||Arc||Santee||Drama film directed by and written by Robert Ethan Gunnerson.|
|2007||Michael Clayton||Don Jeffries||Legal thriller film written and directed by Tony Gilroy.|
|2008||Rambo||Arthur Marsh||Independent action film directed, co-written by and starring Sylvester Stallone.|
|Under Still Waters||Conrad||Drama-thriller film directed and written by Carolyn Miller.|
|Smother||Gene Cooper||Comedy film directed and co-written by Vince Di Meglio.|
|2009||Two:Thirteen||Sheriff Sedgewick||Horror / thriller film directed by Charles Adelman.|
|The Beacon||Officer Bobby Ford||Horror/thriller film directed and written by Michael Stokes.|
|2010||A The Numbers Game||Harold||Comedy film directed and written by James Van Alden.|
|2011||J. Edgar||Harlan Fiske Stone||Biographical drama film directed, co-produced, and scored by Clint Eastwood.|
|2012||A Fighting Man||George||Short film directed by Søren Olafson.|
|Just an American||Dr. Sullivan||Drama film directed and written by Fred Ashman.|
|2013||A.C.O.D.||Gary||Comedy film directed by Stu Zicherman.|
|2014||Better Living Through Chemistry||Walter Bishop||Comedy-drama film directed and written by David Posamentier and Geoff Moore.|
|The Judge||Judge Warren||Drama film directed by David Dobkin.|
|2015||The Wedding Ringer||Ed Palmer||Comedy film directed and co-written by Jeremy Garelick.|
|Joy||Mop Executive||Biographical comedy-drama film, written and directed by David O. Russell, (final film role)|
|1969||N.Y.P.D.||Rick Crossfield||Episode: "Everybody Loved Him" (S 2:Ep 22)|
|1972||Bonanza||Samuel Clemens||Episode: "The Twenty-Sixth Grave" (S 14:Ep 7)|
|Medical Center||Kevin Morgan||Episode: "The Outcast" (S 4:Ep 10)|
|1973||Adam's Rib||Adam Bonner||Contract role|
|1974-75||The Manhunter||Dave Barrett||Contract role|
|1977||The Court Martial of George Armstrong Custer||Prosecuting attorney||Made-for-TV movie directed by Glenn Jordan.|
|1978||Superdome||Dave Walecki||Made-for-TV movie directed by Jerry Jameson and written by Barry Oringer and Bill Svanoe.|
|The Critical List||Nels Freiberg||Made-for-TV movie directed by Lou Antonio.|
|A Real American Hero||Danny Boy Mitchell||Made-for-TV movie directed by Lou Antonio and written by Samuel A. Peeples.|
|1978-81||The White Shadow||Ken Reeves||Contract role|
|1980||Father Damien: The Leper Priest||Father Damien||Made-for-TV movie directed by Steve Gethers.|
|1982||Victims||Joe Buckley||Made-for-TV movie directed by Jerrold Freedman.|
|The Country Girl||Bernie Dodd||Made-for-TV movie directed by Gary Halvorson and Michael Montel|
|1983||It's Not Easy||Jack Long||Contract role|
|1983||Rage of Angels||Adam Warner||Miniseries directed by Buzz Kulik and written by Robert L. Joseph and Alex Mann.|
|The Thorn Birds||Rainer Hartheim||Miniseries directed by Daryl Duke and based on a novel by Colleen McCullough|
|1984||Glitter||Senator||Episode: "Pilot" (S 1:Ep 1)|
|He's Not Your Son||Michael Saunders||Made-for-TV movie directed by Don Taylor.|
|American Playhouse||Pudd'nhead Wilson||Episode: "Pudd'nhead Wilson" (S 3:Ep 2)|
|Hotel||Bill Tillery||Episode: "Passages" (S 1:Ep 15)|
|1985||Hotel||Malcolm Taylor||Episode: "Missing Pieces" (S 3:Ep 1)|
|Murder, She Wrote||Det. Sgt. Barnes||Episode: "Murder at the Oasis" (S 1:Ep 20)|
|1986||Rage of Angels: The Story Continues||Adam J. Warner||Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Paul Wendkos.|
|Dream Girl, U.S.A.||TV Host||Contract role|
|1988||American Playhouse||Sam Evans||Episode: "Strange Interlude" (S 7:Ep 1)|
|The Man in the Brown Suit||Gordon Race||Made-for-TV-Movie based on the novel of the same name by Agatha Christie and directed by Alan Grint.|
|1989||Murder, She Wrote||Hank Shipton||Episode: "Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall: Part 1" (S 5:Ep 21)|
|Episode: "Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall: Part 2" (S 5:Ep 22)|
|Bill Boyle||Episode: "Jack and Bill" (S 6:Ep 5)|
|1991||Deadly Nightmares||Dubois||Episode: "Homecoming" (S 6:Ep 14)|
|P.S. I Luv U||Jack Packer||Episode: "Pilot" (S 1:Ep 1)|
|Murder in New Hampshire: The Pamela Wojas Smart Story||Bill Smart||Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Joyce Chopra.|
|Memories of Midnight||Kirk Reynolds||Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Gary Nelson.|
|1992||Murder, She Wrote||Maxwell 'Max' Hagen||Episode: "The Mole" (S 9:Ep 3)|
|The Golden Girls||Jerry||Episode: "The Commitments" (S 7:Ep 15)|
|Mastergate||Courtleigh Bishop||Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Michael Engler and written by Larry Gelbart.|
|1993||Batman: The Animated Series||Hartness||Episode: "See No Evil" (S 1:Ep 56)|
|Hart to Hart Returns||Dr. Paul Menard||Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Peter R. Hunt (credited as Peter Hunt)|
|1994||One West Waikiki||Ronald Markham||Episode: "Til Death Do Us Part" (S 1:Ep 1)|
|Murder, She Wrote||Matt Kinkaid||Episode: "Death in Hawaii" (S 11:Ep 4)|
|Moment of Truth: To Walk Again||Ed Keating||Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Randy Zisk (credited as Randall Zisk)|
|Captain Planet and the Planeteers||Voice||Episode: "A River Ran Through It" (S 5:Ep 6)|
|1994-98||Melrose Place||Mr. George Andrews||Recurring|
|1995||Op Center||The President||Miniseries based on Tom Clancy's novel of the same name and directed by Lewis Teague.|
|Her Hidden Truth||Jack Devereaux||Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Dan Lerner.|
|1996||Diagnosis: Murder||Special Agent Dunleavy||Episode: "Murder Can Be Contagious" (S 4:Ep 2)|
|Arli$||Rocky||Episode: "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" (S 1:Ep 10)|
|The Client||Charlie Braxton||Episode: "Money Talks" (S 1:Ep 20)|
|1997||Something Borrowed, Something Blue||Senator John Farrell||Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Gwen Arner.|
|Diagnosis: Murder||David Clarke||Episode: "Slam Dunk Dead" (S 5:Ep 5)|
|The Practice||Senator Frank Patanki||Episode: "Hide and Seek" (S 2:ERp 11)|
|1999||The West Wing||Judge Peyton Cabot Harrison III||Episode: "The Short List" (S 1:Ep 9)|
|A Vow To Cherish||John Brighton||Made-for-TV-Movie directed and co-written by John Schmidt.|
|2000||The Practice||Defense Atty. Bradford||Episode: "Race Ipsa Loquitor" (S 4:Ep 15)|
|Perfect Murder, Perfect Town||Alex Hunter||Miniseries directed by Lawrence Schiller.|
|2001-05||Crossing Jordan||Max Cavanaugh||Recurring|
|2001||Family Law||Reardon||Episode: "Film at Eleven" (S 2:Ep 12)|
|Arli$$||Coach Dreyfuss||Episode: "Of Cabbages and Kings"(S 6:Ep 7)|
|2004||Curb Your Enthusiasm||Ken Abbot||Episodes:
|A Boyfriend for Christmas||Judge||
|2006||The Office||Ed Truck||Episode: "The Carpet" (S 2:Ep 14)|
|George Lopez||Dr. Woodson||Episode: "The Kidney Stays in the Picture" (S 5:Ep 14)|
|Ghost Whisperer||Judge Walter Merrick||Episode: "Fury" (S 1:Ep 19)|
|Conviction||Judge Hanford||Episode: "The Wall" (S 1:Ep 9)|
|Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Dr. Arlen Rieff||Episode: "Cage" (S 8:Ep 8)|
|2007||Sacrifices of the Heart||Thane Weston||Made-for-TV movie directed by David S. Cass Sr.|
|The Nine||Alvy Munson||Episode: "Man of the Year"(S 1:Ep 11)|
|2008||Brothers & Sisters||Boyd Taylor||Episode: "Double Negative" (S 2:Ep 14)|
|Eli Stone||Thomas Hayes||Episode: "Grace" (S 2:Ep 2)|
|Boston Legal||Judge Walter Yardley||Episode: "Kill, Baby, Kill!" (S 5:Ep 9)|
|Dirty Sexy Money||Evan Connello||Episode: "The Summer House" (S 2:Ep 7)|
|2009||Cold Case||Harry Kemp Jr. '58||Episode: "Libertyville" (S 6:Ep 19)|
|Grey Gardens||Phelan Beale||Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie|
|2011-13||30 Rock||Hank Hooper||Recurring|
|2011||The Council of Dads||Burt Wells||Made-for-TV movie directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo|
|Fairly Legal||Charles Pease||Episode: "Pilot" (S 1:Ep 1)|
|The Closer||Wes Durant||Episode: "Star Turn" (S 7:Ep 9)|
|2012||The Young and the Restless||George Summers||Episodes:
|Blue Bloods||Malcolm||Episode: "Nightmares" (S 3:Ep 7)|
|Counter Culture||Ken||Made-for-TV movie directed by Ted Wass|
|2014||The McCarthys||Coach Colwell||Episode: "Pilot" (S 1:Ep 1)|
|1986||Drug Free Kids: A Parents' Guide||Host|
||Shubert Theatre||December 1, 1968 - January 1, 1972|
|1970||Child's Play||Paul Reese||Royale Theatre||
|1971||JFK||Designer||Circle in the Square Downtown||Opened November 21, 1971|
||March 18, 1973 - December 8, 1973|
|1975||Little Black Sheep||Jack Hassler||Vivian Beaumont Theatre||May 7, 1975 - June 1, 1975|
|1975-76||The Norman Conquests: Living Together||Tom||Morosco Theatre||December 7, 1975 - June 19, 1976|
|The Norman Conquests: Table Manners||Tom||Morosco Theatre||December 7, 1975 - June 18, 1976|
|The Norman Conquests: Round and Round the Garden||Tom||Morosco Theatre||December 7, 1975 - June 19, 1976|
|1600 Pennsylvania Avenue||The President||Mark Hellinger Theatre||May 4, 1976 - May 8, 1976|
|1983||The Glass Menagerie||Broadway|
||November 17, 1988 - February 24, 1990|
|1995||Camping with Henry and Tom||Warren G. Harding||Lucille Lortel Theatre||Opened February 20, 1995|
|1996||In the Moonlight Eddie|
|2007||According to Tip|
|2012||Golden Child||Assistant Director||
||Opened November 13, 2012|
Ken Howard supports the following charitable cause: Kidney Disease.