Ken Howard

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Ken Howard
Ken Howard 2014.jpg
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
Born Kenneth Joseph Howard, Jr.
(1944-03-28) March 28, 1944 (age 71)
El Centro, California, United States
Spouse(s) Louise Sorel (m. 1973; div. 1975)
Margo Howard (m. 1977; div. 1991)
Linda Fetters (m. 1992)

Kenneth Joseph "Ken" Howard, Jr. (born March 28, 1944) is 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 Screen Actors Guild in September 2009[1] and elected to a second term in September 2011.[2] Howard is currently the President of SAG-AFTRA (after Screen Actors Guild merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists).

Early life[edit]

Howard was born in El Centro, California, the son of Martha Carey (née McDonald) and Kenneth Joseph Howard, Sr.,[3] the older of their two sons. His younger brother, the late Don Howard, was also an actor. He stands approximately 6'6" (1.98 m) which in high school earned him the nickname "Stork".

He grew up in Manhasset, New York.[4] 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 Caucasian 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 is a graduate of Amherst College, where he served as captain of the basketball team.[5] 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.[6]



Ken Howard in trailer for "1776" (1972)

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. Other Broadway appearances include the Seesaw in 1973 and The Norman Conquests. Howard portrayed several US presidents in the 1975 Broadway musical 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and in 1976, appeared as Warren G. Harding in Camping with Henry and Tom in 1995.[7] He has 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.[8]


On television, he appeared as Ken Reeves, a Los Angeles high school basketball coach, in The White Shadow, produced by Bruce Paltrow in 1978. (The nickname was given to him in 1961 by the Long Island press when he was the only Caucasian starter on the Manhasset High School varsity basketball team.) 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. Additional credits include "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.

He has 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. Howard appeared in season one of The West Wing as President Bartlett's first choice for U.S. Supreme Court Justice in the episode "The Short List". Other dramatic guest roles include: NYPD Blue, The Practice, Boston Legal, Cold Case, Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, Brothers and Sisters, Law & Order: SVU, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Fairly Legal, The Closer, 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 in 30 Rock as Jack Donaghy's boss from Kabletown, Hank Hooper.


He made his movie debut in 1970 in Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon opposite Liza Minnelli. He has appeared in numerous movies since, in both dramatic and comedy roles, including: Oscar with Sylvester Stallone in 1991, Clear and Present Danger with Harrison Ford in 1994, and The Net with Sandra Bullock in 1995, 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.[9]


Howard is the author of the 2003 book Act Natural: How to Speak to Any Audience,[10] based on the drama courses he has taught at Harvard University. He is a popular reader for audiobooks.

Personal life[edit]

Howard is married to former stunt woman, Linda Fetters (1992–present). He was previously married to Margo Howard (13 March 1977 - 1991), the daughter of Ann Landers and to actress Louise Sorel (3 June 1973 - 1975).

Stage productions[edit]



  1. ^ "Ken Howard Elected as Screen Actors Guild President; Amy Aquino Elected as Secretary-Treasurer" (Press release). Screen Actors Guild. 24 September 2009. Retrieved 2011-12-07. 
  2. ^ Joshua L. Weinstein (22 September 2011). "Ken Howard Re-Elected President of SAG". The Wrap (Reuters). Retrieved 2011-12-07. 
  3. ^ "Ken Howard Biography (1944-)". Film Reference Library. Retrieved 2012-12-07. 
  4. ^ Alex Tarshis (10 November 2005). "Hanging Out in the NBA TV Green Room With ... Ken Howard". Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  5. ^ "Ken Howard". Retrieved 2011-12-07. 
  6. ^ "Ken Howard". The New York Times ( Retrieved 2011-12-07. 
  7. ^ "Plays—Camping with Henry and Tom". Retrieved 2012-12-07. 
  8. ^ Sam Allis (15 June 2008). "A new one-man show about late House speaker O'Neill seeks a broad-based constituency". The Boston Globe ( Retrieved 2011-12-07. 
  9. ^ Tom O'Neill (20 September 2009). "Biggest Emmy surprises: Ken Howard, Cherry Jones and . . . ?". Los Angeles Times ( Retrieved 2011-12-07. 
  10. ^ "Ken Howard". Screen Actors Guild. Retrieved 2011-12-07. 

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