Ken, I was happy to help with merger, phone banking and serving locally as a New England Board rep under your Presidency. I also worked with you on the President’s Task Force with the goals of educating, reaching out to and empowering our membership. In short, you left us a legacy, and it's now time for us, the members, to continue building and strengthening SAG-AFTRA's future with the foundation you helped us build thus far! Thank you!
I didn't know him well, but as a committee member I knew him and his work well enough. He was the right man at the right time, and did so much to help our union, and our industry, grow in ways that we already know or soon will come to realize. He was a model of what it means to be a great leader: patient, insightful and good-hearted. I will do my best to continue gleaming from the lessons he taught about leadership, because in that way his legacy will live on. Rest in Peace Brother, you will never be forgotten.
I first met Ken Howard while I was attending Boston University in fall 2014, while I was a senior. I had already joined SAG-AFTRA the year before, and was a proud member. The event was an Aaron Spelling Foundation exhibit at our school's library. I remember meeting Ken after his inspiring speech. I told him I had just joined the union and I was spending my last semester in Los Angeles, majoring in Film/TV. I was possibly the only student union member. He asked me what I studied, my name, and shook my hand and wished me luck. I said my name's "Kent." He said he'd see more of me in LA. He left an impression of a generous man who cared enough to improve the lives of others. As we move forward with his memory, I won't forget this brief moment of joy from a man working toward his vision.
-Kent van Kuller
I first saw Ken Howard on Broadway in 1776. There was very little advance sale on that show, and free tickets up at Equity. I went with some friends, planning to goof on the idea of a musical with the Founding Fathers singing and dancing. Boy, was I wrong. We leapt to our feet along with the rest of the audience at the end. And, of course, along with God knows how many others, watch the film on the 4th of July. Howard was wonderful in that show and in so many other shows. On top of that, he presided over the very tricky transition into SAG-AFTRA. What an extraordinary man!
-Chet Carlin Equity
Under his leadership, the union moved forward. While I did not know him personally, he seemed like a very kind man who truly cared about his fellow actors. He saw how the industry was changing and steered the members in a direction, where actors could keep on working. He will be missed. Prayers to his family and close friends.
A few years back, before the merger, there were tons of branch meetings. He came to Boston and talked to the people from what would become the New England Branch. Roberta Reardon came with him to this meeting. Both of them were so kind to all of us up-against-it actor types. I had a real problem at the time. I asked him directly what I should do: I had worked for an Indie filmmaker who supposedly signed a SAG contract, but the guy never paid me or a bunch of other actors. He never submitted the paperwork. The union was trying to help us with all of that. Ken was very direct. He looked at me with a sad face and said: You were desperate to work weren't you? I shook my head yes. He said: Don't do that again. If the paperwork isn't in place you will be used and probably not paid. He didn't call me a stupid idiot. He could have. He just understood that I was desperate to work. Later I thanked him for being so kind to me. He just answered simply: Of course. There was no egotism. He was humane. He got it. He gave so much of himself for the merger of SAG and AFTRA, both as a union member and as the President of SAG-AFTRA. At future meetings, I saw him calmly answer the same questions over and over again about the merger, and even take heat about the merger. Some people were not nice, but he handled it all gracefully. He was a mensch. A real good guy who loved actors/performers and was a hell of a performer himself.
It has taken so much of your time and energy to ensure that our unions have become stronger and united in solidarity. I am only one of many actors who have been touched by your talent. You have inspired so many, and given so much. Wishing your family and loved ones much peace at this difficult time.