Ken Howard Dead Crossing Jordan

Ken Howard, Known for Crossing Jordan and White Shadow, Dead at 71

Ken Howard, who played the title character’s dad on Crossing Jordan, died Wednesday. He was 71.

The Emmy and Tony-winning actor, who also served as president of SAG-AFTRA, passed away near his home in Los Angeles, according to the organization. No cause of death was cited.

Howard starred in White Shadow, CBS’ late-1970s sports drama. His nearly 50-year acting career also included several other TV gigs, including DynastyThe Thorn BirdsMurder She Wrote and Melrose Place. More recently, he played Jack Donaghy’s Kabletown boss Hank Hooper on 30 Rock.

He took home an Emmy in 2009 for his portrayal of Phelan Beale, husband of Jessica Lange’s Big Edie, in HBO’s Grey Gardens. His most recent role was that of a mop executive in the 2015 film Joy.

Per our sister site Variety, Howard was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild in 2009 and 2011, then re-elected as president of SAG-AFTRA after the guild merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

He is survived by his wife, Linda Fetters.

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  1. Tim says:

    His presence was always welcome on the screen.

  2. Annie says:

    I knew him from Murder, She Wrote and Crossing Jordan. RIP

  3. I liked him in everything I ever saw him in, but (going back quite a ways) my favorite role of his was Thomas Jefferson in the movie musical 1776. He was so good in that. RIP, Mr. Howard. You’ll be missed.

    • JenInChicago says:

      I love that movie. It’s too bad more people don’t remember it or have ever seen it.

    • chris says:

      I loved him in 1776, too. When my family visited Philadelphia, he played Jefferson in the informational video at the visitor center as well.

  4. Steven says:

    He was great in Crossing jordan. I loved that show. He was also really funny in 30 Rock. Such a shame. RIP.

  5. Dan the critic says:

    He was also Thomas Jefferson in 1776.

  6. Guest says:

    I remember him from In Her Shoes with Toni Collette

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you! I couldn’t remember what I knew him from and that was it. It’s one of my faves. My thoughts go out to his friends and family.

  7. Znachki says:

    Loved White Shadow back in the day. But, he’ll always be Thomas Jefferson to me.

  8. Ed says:

    Who did he play on Melrose Place? He looks so familiar. I wanna say he was somehow connected to Allison?

    I know he was on the Holden Girls he played a suitor of Blanches who wouldn’t “put out” so to speak lol

  9. Tony Lang says:

    I always remember him for 2 things: as the favorites-playing father in Hindsight, and the “safe choice” nominee for supreme court in Season 1 of The West Wing.

  10. MP says:

    That is very sad. I loved his character on Crossing Jordan. Condolences to his family and friends.

  11. Sad. I liked White Shadow. The HS kids reminded me of the guys I went to HS with.

  12. Carlos Lee says:

    RIP, Ken. You were a good character actor.

  13. Scout says:

    Sorry to hear this. RIP, sir.

  14. B says:

    I loved him in so many things and will sincerely miss his presence. Peace and comfort to his family and friends.

  15. Peter says:

    He recently played a retired hockey player with alzhiemers on “Blue Bloods”, a very good performance. RIP

  16. Marsa Hughy says:

    I am seriously, deeply saddened by the news of Ken Howard’s passing! I had always delighted in seeing him in productions, before he became “Max” on Crossing Jordan. I’m currently watching all the season’s of C.J. on Netflix. It’s going to bitter sweet to finish watching the last four seasons. He will be truly missed by this loyal Ken Howard fan. #Reast in peaceKenHoward

  17. Brian Grewe says:

    He will always be the white shadow to me. Very underrated show.