Ken and I both graduated from Manhasset High School on Long Island, I in '61 and Ken in '62. Ken was the opposite of a snob: he never lost his humble spirit of friendliness to all in spite of being a star athlete, student leader, and star of all the lavish musicals at the Congregational Church (our smallish high school only did dramas and comedies). I was thrilled to begin seeing him on TV shows and then in films, and was certainly not surprised when his leadership skills emerged in the Guild. He was marvelous in all his endeavors and will be sorely missed.
I met Ken Howard on the set of Tactical Assault in 1997. He was dressed in the fatigues of an Air Force general, and I could think of no one better to play the role. His booming voice and confident stature immediately took control of the scene. It was a privilege to watch him work, and I decided to tell him so. His friendly reaction to an admiring background actor, and the pure class that he extended to everyone on set, made a deep impression on me. At the end of a day's work, he offered to share an hour-long taxi ride with a few of us extras. We were over the moon to listen to his tales of acting, and to share some pleasant conversation on the ride home with an actor we admired greatly, and always will. My heartfelt condolences to Mr. Howard's family and friends.
There was a quiet energy in the air the day the day the news broke. A loss for many, both in the entertainment community and in the hearts of loved ones. A few years ago I met Ken, and he was sensitive to the needs of with whom he was connecting. He was kind and open, and made you feel comfortable in his presence. He represented a true leader in all he stood for and had accomplished. I was fortunate enough to run with him on his campaign, which brought us into his second term as President. His molding of the union is awe-inspiring and his big heart was one to cherish. Blessings to his wife Linda and his family and friends. Thank you for your hard work and strong spirit. Ken Howard, your legacy will remain and we thank you for that.
A while back I was at the resource center, the KMRC, in Chicago for an upcoming SAG-AFTRA meeting. I was early, and nobody else had arrived yet. Two people walked in. One was a staff member and the other was a rather tall man. We exchanged pleasantries and I thought: "He looks familiar. He even looks like our president. Hey, wait a minute!" It was Ken Howard. He was in Chicago and was going to join us for the day. He ended up sitting in on our meeting. Ken could not have been more friendly or willing to share what he knew. When the meeting was over you could tell everyone in the room felt a little better that he had been there. It was really wonderful to have him there. I was also fortunate enough to be selected to be out in LA for National Tabulation day last August. After the national tabulation was complete, another Steve from Las Vegas was going to give me a ride back to our hotel. He told me that Ken was at the restaurant next door and perhaps we should go over and say hi. "Of course!" When we got there, we were told Ken had already left. As much fun as being in LA for Tabulation Day had been, I felt a bit upset that I didn't get to see Ken again. He truly was one of those people that made you feel good and that you mattered. I feel honored to have had him as the president of my union and knew that he really cared about all of us. As I type this I still feel shock and sadness over his passing. Thank you for everything you did Ken!
It was a pleasure and a privilege to work alongside Ken as well as my other fellow members of The White Shadow cast. Ken was a very special talent and human being. I regret, now especially, not keeping up often enough with our friendship after leaving LA. Although we did, for a while, continue the annual friendly bets on Amherst-Wesleyan football contests – which I, invariably, lost. I have fond memories of our last visit together in St. Louis when Ken was starring, on stage, in Equus. Happy memories, too, of a lunch hour, during a shooting day at CBS on Radford with Ken, Bruce, Mark Tinker - a most talented collection of performers, producers, writers I have ever been privileged to be among and our resultant laughter. Ken will be missed by so many and known for his tremendous work as an actor, as well as his superior service to so many as SAG President and then as the first President of SAG-AFTRA.
A grand man who brought his grace and dignity to all around him. SAG-AFTRA will be ever better for his time with us.
Many years before I joined the union, I was a student at Amherst College in western Massachusetts. My a cappella group (the Amherst College Zumbyes) had invited alumni to a get-together. In walked Ken Howard, class of 1966: a towering, passionate blond presence in the filthy dorm basement where we hosted the gathering. Ken was way, way older than the other alumni present, and way more charismatic. He had been an outstanding member of the Zumbyes in his college days and didn't hesitate to stop the group cold in the middle of a song, mid-choreography even, to offer notes. The way he communicated was unlike any direction we'd ever been given: authoritative but calm, direct but gentle. "Maybe try stepping two more inches forward during your solo," he told one of the group's stars. "Maybe cheat your bodies out to create more distinct windows," he suggested after stopping us during a different number. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Ken Howard's maybes carried immense weight, equal parts gravitas and kindness. After joining SAG-AFTRA last summer I had plans to get in touch with Mr. Howard to let him know I had been there that night a decade ago and that I felt connected to him through decades of college a cappella lineage, corny though that may sound. I'm sad I'll never have the chance to now.
I met Ken and his lovely wife at an evening of the Emmy’s Party in Los Angeles. Although it was a brief conversation, I also was struck by how personable and thoughtful he was. He actually took an interest in me by asking how I was doing in my career as an actor. His wife asked if I would like a picture with him, and of course, I was so surprised at the offer. So, I have it. I’ve been ever so proud showing it to my husband. An actor, and the Leader of the Union she belongs to. I have never forgotten that evening, and expressed to him how proud I was of being a member of SAG-AFTRA. He and his wife smiled, and we shook hands as we parted. Those brief moments gave me a genuine insight as to his sincerity and fortitude in guiding this incredible union.
Ken was a few years ahead of me in high school, on Long Island, and made a splash in the roles of Curly, in Oklahoma, and Billy Bigelow in Carousel, already showing his considerable talents as a teenager (not to mention winning the hearts of every teenage girl in town!). We studied with the same voice teacher, Robley Lawson, and I applauded every success in Ken's career. I wish comfort to those he leaves behind and to the SAG-AFTRA community, who have lost a fine friend and advocate. Blessings, and Peace.