The White Shadow

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This article is about the television series. For the 1923 film, see The White Shadow (film). For other uses, see White Shadow (disambiguation).
The White Shadow
The White Shadow dvd.jpg
DVD cover
Genre Drama, Basketball, School
Created by Bruce Paltrow
Written by
Directed by
Starring Ken Howard
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 54 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Bruce Paltrow
Producer(s) Mark Tinker
Running time 48 minutes
Production company(s) Company Four
MTM Enterprises
Distributor 20th Television
Original channel CBS
Original release November 27, 1978 – March 16, 1981

The White Shadow is an American drama television series that ran on the CBS network from November 27, 1978 to March 16, 1981.


Thematically similar to Welcome Back, Kotter, but more dramatic than comedic, The White Shadow starred Ken Howard as Ken Reeves, a white professional basketball player who retires from the Chicago Bulls of the NBA after a severe knee injury. Upon his retirement, Reeves takes a job as a basketball coach at Carver High School, a mostly black and Hispanic urban high school in South Central Los Angeles. Carver's principal is former college classmate Jim Willis (Jason Bernard in the pilot, and Ed Bernard for seasons 1 and 2). Sybil Buchanan, played by Joan Pringle, is the vice principal who was against Reeves' hiring and clashed with Reeves in the areas of discipline and education on more than a few occasions. In season 3, Willis is promoted to a position with the Oakland Board of Education and Buchanan becomes principal of Carver.

According to the storyline, Reeves and Willis were roommates at Boston College. Reeves played college basketball and went on to be drafted into the NBA and played mostly with the Chicago Bulls.

The show was produced by Bruce Paltrow for MTM Enterprises. On November 8, 2005, the series' first season was released on DVD, with the second season following on March 7, 2006.

The White Shadow was the first ensemble drama on prime-time television with a predominantly African-American cast. With 54 episodes, it is the third-longest running drama with a predominantly African-American cast in the history of American prime-time television. Only Soul Food and The Wire have had more episodes.

The show's title is derived from a comment by player Morris Thorpe (Kevin Hooks) in response to a statement by Reeves in the final scene of the pilot episode. Reeves told the members of the team that he would support them and be right behind them, every step of the way, to which Thorpe replied, "Yeah. Like a white shadow."

In October 2011, ESPN Classic began re-airing all 54 episodes of The White Shadow. Reruns aired on Nick at Nite and TV Land in the 1990s with other MTM Enterprises series.

Main cast[edit]


DVD releases[edit]

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has released the first two seasons on DVD in Region 1.[1][2]

Cultural effects[edit]

When aired in 1980s in Turkey the series gained a lot of interest and the then unknown sport of basketball attracted millions of youth.[3]

Saturday Night Live did a parody skit of the show titled The Black Shadow when NBA star Bill Russell hosted the show on November 3, 1979.


External links[edit]