Ken Howard was one of the kindest souls I have ever met. I had the pleasure of working with him on The White Shadow, and even back then, as an actor, he spoke up for me to the producers when he felt I deserved better compensation for my work. He's always been that "look out for your fellow actors" kind of guy. Ken really cared, and we remained friends over the years. I respected and admired him so much, and my heart is thankful that I had the opportunity to tell him so. Heaven has another angel, you will be missed.
Three summers ago, I had just delivered my few lines (a brief argument with Robert Downey Jr.) in the film The Judge. Exhilarated from the fun ride, and relieved that I hadn't passed out from the pressure of the moment (just eight weeks after open-heart surgery), I went backstage to grab a snack off the craft table. As I was returning to the principal actors' holding area, this tall, older gentleman (who was playing Judge Warren in the film) approached me and congratulated me on a job well done and praised me for the difficult task of acting surprised repeatedly, take after take. Sure, he was probably just being kind, as those lines never made the final cut, but I appreciated it anyway. I had no idea who he was, so I asked, "Are you a local actor?" He responded, "Not currently. I lived in Massachusetts years ago, but now I call L.A. home." It was a short but sweet and sincere little conversation. I soon returned to where my fellow jurors were waiting between set-ups, and one of them asked me if I knew who that was. I thought he was just some nice older guy, but, guffawing, they quickly informed me that he was in fact the president of our union (SAG-AFTRA) and a very accomplished actor. Then it dawned on me, just days before I had voted him in for another term. Mr. Howard was a completely unpretentious gentleman with an outstanding resume and a personality to match it. Thank you, Mr. President.
So very saddened to learn of the passing of not only a wonderful actor, but a great SAG-AFTRA President and a man who brought a lot of love to the world. I remember seeing Mr. Howard on stage at the American Repertory Theater (ART) in Boston, in the mid-1980s. He was an excellent, lovely actor. May he always be remembered fondly, and may his family and friends know that he really touched so many lives in such a wonderful way.
I got to know Ken when he was making a movie in Santa Fe about 30 years ago. I’ve recently been in touch, because I’m now a SAG-AFTRA member. At that time, I was a golf pro and we had a blast. I would drive him back to his hotel each day, after golf, and I had a tiny Triumph TR-6. His knees were around his ears and he’d always say, “Please drive carefully, I’m not in a very safe position, here,” I miss him!
As a kid growing up in New York City and going to school, The White Shadow had a profound impact on me, as so many shows of that era did. Imagine, just a decade or so after Dr. Martin Luther King, and just years after integration became a real thing, to see a white coach interact with black ball players not just as students and players, but as human beings, was an astounding leap forward in healing wounds and moving forward. Godspeed, Ken. We are lessened by your loss.
Ken Howard was an outstanding actor, and I admired his easy-going nature. His work seemed effortless, and that was so impressive. As a member of SAG-AFTRA, I am grateful for his work on our behalf and for the benefit of the union. My condolences to his family, and may he rest in peace.
It was one of those special "Hollywood magic moments." I was a young guy, not yet a SAG-AFTRA member, relatively new to the industry, working as a member of Local 44 building the gym set for White Shadow. Ken wandered onto the set to check it out. He graciously engaged me and our small, dirty, sweaty group of craftspeople, complimenting and encouraging all of us, making it a special day. A consummate actor, absolutely, but I remember Ken for the heart he shared with us that day and for the humanity he brought to all that he did throughout his career. Thank you, Ken. You will be missed.
-J. Daniel Nichols
Back when the unions were considering a merge, Ken was meeting at the conference in Boston. I met him briefly for a few moments and found he'd had a big procedure that saved his life. I commented that I'd had the same procedure. From then on, there was a deeper connection. He came back to meet a second time, and not at such a big conference. It was at that time, he really had a connection with me. He smiled with a twinkle in his eye, and regardless of what might come, he always had a good outlook. He will be missed more than people know. RIP Mr. Howard.
Ken Howard was the consummate actor and a gentle giant of a man. He approached his career, leadership of the Guild and life with dignity, kindness and strength. He will be remembered for his many great roles and for uniting the membership of SAG-AFTRA when many said it was not possible. He will be deeply missed.
Ken Howard was a beautiful, gracious gentleman. He was phenomenal in In Her Shoes and as a retired athlete in Blue Bloods! A world-class actor and human! He will be missed! RIP our dear President!