Ken Howard

Ken Howard

Born: March 28, 1944
Died: March 23, 2016 (at age 71)
Birthplace: El Centro, California, U.S.

Kenneth Joseph "Ken" 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. 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 2009 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his work in Grey Gardens.

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.

Early life

Howard was born in El Centro, California, the son of Martha Carey (née McDonald) and Kenneth Joseph Howard, Sr., the elder of their two sons. His younger brother, the late Don Howard, was also an actor. 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 was a graduate of 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.


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, an American crime drama that was part of CBS's lineup for the 1974-1975 television season. The series was produced by Quinn Martin and starred Howard as Dave Barret, a 1930s-era private investigator from Idaho. He 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 the television series Murder, She Wrote with Angela Lansbury, and later in Crossing Jordan as Jill Hennessy's father from 2001 to 2004. In 2007, he appeared as the primary villain in the critically acclaimed series Cane with Jimmy Smits.

Howard guest-starred on numerous television dramas. He was guest villain in Hart to Hart Returns, a 1993 made-for-TV movie starring Stefanie Powers and Robert Wagner. He also appeared in season one of The West Wing as President Bartlet's first choice for U.S. 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 and Blue Bloods. He appeared in an episode of The Golden Girls as one of Blanche's many lovers, in The Office as Michael's former boss, and on 30 Rock as Hank Hooper, Jack Donaghy's boss from Kabletown.


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.

Personal life and death

Howard was married to former stunt woman Linda Fetters from 1992 until his death in 2016. He was previously married to Margo Howard (1977-91), daughter of Ann Landers, and to actress Louise Sorel (1973-75).

Howard died in Valencia, California, on March 23, 2016, at the age of 71. No cause of death was released.



Year Title Role Notes
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 1776 Thomas Jefferson
  • Musical film directed by Peter H. Hunt.
  • Written by Peter Stone and based on his book for the 1969 Broadway musical of the same name.
The Strange Vengeance of Rosalie Virgil Thriller film directed by Jack Starrett.
1976 Independence Thomas Jefferson Short film directedby John Huston.
1983 Second Thoughts John Michael Drama film directed by Lawrence Turman
1991 Oscar Kirkwood
  • Screwball comedy film directed by John Landis.
  • Based on the Claude Magnier stage play
  • A remake of the 1967 French film of the same name, but the settings has been moved to the Depression-era Chicago and centers on a mob boss.
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 American-German independent action film directed, co-written by and starring Sylvester Stallone.
Smother Gene Cooper Comedy film directed and co-written by Vince Di Meglio.
Under Still Waters Conrad Drama-thriller film directed and written by Carolyn Miller.
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 Better Living Through Chemistry Walter Bishop Comedy-drama film directed and written by David Posamentier and Geoff Moore.
A.C.O.D. Gary Comedy film directed by Stu Zicherman.
2014 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.


Year Title Role Notes
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 Manhunter Dave Barrett
  • Made-for-TV-Movie/crime-drama directed by Walter Grauman.
  • Used as the pilot for The Manhunter.
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)
1985-86 Dynasty Garrett Boydston Recurring
The Colbys Recurring
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 Epispode: "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:
  • "The 5 Wood" (S 4:Ep 5)
  • "The Car Pool Lane" (S 4:Ep 6)
A Boyfriend for Christmas Judge
  • Romantic Christmas film directed by Kevin Connor and written by Roger Schroeder.
  • Uncredited
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)
Huff Walt Callahan Episodes:
  • "Sweet Release" (S 2:Ep 4)
  • "Used, Abused and Unenthused" (S 2:Ep 5)
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)
Cane Joe Samuels Recurring
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:
  • Episode #1.9850 (S 39:Ep 50)
  • Episode #1.9851 (S 39:Ep 51)
  • Episode #1.9852 (S 39:Ep 52)
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)


Year Title Role Notes
1986 Drug Free Kids: A Parents' Guide Host


Year Title Role Theatre Notes
1968-72 Promises, Promises
  • Bartender Eddie
  • Karl Kubelik
Shubert Theatre December 1, 1968 - January 1, 1972
1969-72 1776 Thomas Jefferson
  • 46th Street Theatre (March 16, 1969 - December 27, 1970)
  • St. James Theatre (December 28, 1970 - April 24, 1971)
  • Majestic Theatre (April 27, 1971 - February 13, 1972)
  • 1969 Theatre World Award
  • March 16, 1969 - February 13, 1972
1970 Child's Play Paul Reese Royale Theatre
  • 1970 Tony Award Best Featured Actor in a Play
  • February 17, 1970 - December 12, 1970
1971 JFK Designer Circle in the Square Downtown Opened November 21, 1971
1973 Seesaw Jerry Ryan
  • Uris Theatre (March 18, 1973 - July 21, 1973)
  • Mark Hellinger Theatre (8/01/1973 - August 12, 1973)
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
1976 Equus National Company
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue The President Mark Hellinger Theatre May 4, 1976 - May 8, 1976
1983 The Glass Menagerie Broadway
1988-90 Rumors Glenn Cooper
  • Broadhurst Theatre (November 17, 1988 - December 13, 1989)
  • Ethel Barrymore Theatre (December 13, 1989 - February 24, 1990)
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
  • Pershing Square Signature Center
  • (The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre)
Opened November 13, 2012

Ken Howard supports the following charitable cause: Kidney Disease.

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

Terms Privacy Join Contact
Contact Any Star FanPal • 2024