Ken Howard (1944)
- Category : Entertainment-Actor-Actress
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Upheaval 1
American actor, writer, musician, producer and star of the TV series "White Shadow" in 1978. He was the recipient of the Theater World Award in 1969 for "1776" and a Tony Award in 1970 for a supporting role in "Child's Play."
Howard's father, Kenneth J. Howard, Sr., a broker, died 14 May 1995 at age 79 due to complications from Alzheimer's Disease. He has one brother.
Ken always wanted to do musical comedy and summer stock; however, acting isn't the only important creative activity in his life. As an undergraduate at Amherst, he did a lot of singing with a close harmony group called the Zumbyes. When he attended the Yale School of Drama in the mid-60s, his weekends were spent as an all purpose singing maitre d' in a sleazy nightclub. When one of his professors told him he would end up in a tuxedo, singing into a microphone in Las Vegas, Ken said that would be a dream come true.
He left Yale after two years to take a small part in the Broadway show "Promises, Promises." In 1972 he reprised his award winning Broadway role of Thomas Jefferson in the movie "1776."
Playing the role has always been the most important thing to Howard. He worked in several television series beginning in 1973, with a 13-week stint in "Adam's Rib" with Blythe Danner and later in "White Shadow," "Dynasty," and "The Colby's" which he left on 2 December 1986. In a disappointing series, "It's Not Easy," a three camera comedy with children and a live audience, he had a chance to use his comic abilities. These series have allowed him to put away a good deal of money and provide the security he needs in order to do what he loves, teach and act. After his television series and the miniseries "A Rage of Angels," he felt well recognized, doing his own promo as he has never had a publicist.
He enjoys playing golf, but feels he is not very good at the Hollywood lifestyle. When there he leases everything, homes, pets, cars and clothes included. Somewhat exhibitionist and narcissistic, he feels movie actors can be crushed by TV because of time constraints. He has learned to work quickly and easily, making him a hero with the crew. Not good at down time, he has remained busy almost constantly since leaving school.
Howard returned to academia in the summer of 1985 when he gave a workshop at Vassar. In late 1986 he returned to Harvard to teach workshops and act at the Institute for Advanced Theater Training, which performs all over the world. Howard's lists of credits in both movies and TV are extremely long, including Emcee of a syndicated weekly talent contest, "Dream Girls." He turned down being host of the "Miss America" program as he thought it too plastic. He appeared in "At First Sight" with Val Kilmer, released in 1998.
For years, Howard lived in a restored farmhouse in Connecticut with second wife, Margo Lederer, the daughter of Ann Landers (who expressed her opposition to their marriage on religious grounds). He adopted Margo's son Adam and they had two more kids, Abra and Cricket, but the marriage ended in divorce.
Back in Los Angeles with third wife, Linda, Howard found out in March 1999 that his kidneys were failing as the result of a misdiagnosed urinary blockage. He was in urgent need of a transplant. The 6' 6" actor had begun feeling fatigued all the time in 1995, having severe headaches and putting on weight. By the time he got the proper diagnosis, both kidneys were damaged by uremic poisoning and functioning at 30% of normal. Linda had no hesitation but was not an acceptable donor.
When his long-time friend, Jeannie Epper, found out Howard's plight, with no hesitation she offered her own kidney and seven weeks later, 26 July 2000, Jeannie's kidney was transplanted to Howard. They had met 25 years before when the attractive stuntwoman's brother was serving as Howard's double on the 1974 series "Manhunter." Within days, Howard was back on his feet with renewed faith in God and the humanity of friendship.
Howard died on 23 March 2016 in Los Angeles, California, aged 71.