Legendary actor Ken Howard, who played coach Ken Reeves on the cult classic late-1970s show The White Shadow, has died.
He was 71. His cause of death has not been released.
Howard’s role on The White Shadow became one of his most well-known. The CBS drama depicted the challenges of a white coach, who previously played with the Chicago Bulls in the NBA, working at a south central Los Angeles high school. The show became beloved by aspiring athletes across the country and its three-season run still stands as one of the most influential shows in television history that predominantly featured a African-American cast.
As the story goes, the show’s title actually came from a nickname Howard inherited when he was in high school, as he was the only white player on his basketball team in the 1960s.
The show addressed serious issues in addition to having the basketball element. It remains one of a kind and is considered groundbreaking.
Howard won a Tony Award in 1970, and had a breakout role in 1776, playing Thomas Jefferson. He was a working actor until his death and was the sitting president of the Screen Actors Guilde-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Howard’s death comes five days before his 72nd birthday.
Here’s a glimpse of The White Shadow.