Thursday, March 24, 2016
Dawidziak recalls Ken Howard encounters
PD entertainment critic Mark Dawidziak, who with Dick Shippy were the best TV critics in BJ history, has warm memories of Ken Howard, the white basketball coach of an all-black team in “The White Shadow” TV series, who died Wednesday at the age of 71.
“So sorry to hear about the death of Ken Howard. Great, great guy. Got to know him a bit when he was working toward an MFA at Kent State University in the late '90s.
“Always cherished his work as Thomas Jefferson in ‘1776’ and in the title role of the landmark drama ‘The White Shadow.’
“But knowing he had played Mark Twain in an episode of ‘Bonanza’ (‘Hal Holbrook, it isn't,’ he told me), as well as the title role in a PBS adaptation of Mark Twain's ‘Pudd'nhead Wilson,’ I gave him a copy of my 1996 book ‘Mark My Words: Mark Twain on Writing.’
“Every time we met at a network press event after that, he mentioned how much the book meant to him. I later found out he cited it in his dissertation and his book ‘Act Natural.’
“He had many grand stories to tell, and we shared a few memories of Long Island childhoods.”
Howard was the current national president of SAG-AFTRA.
Howard also played Hank Hooper, the cable company CEO on the sitcom “30 Rock,” won a supporting actor Emmy Award in 2009 as the absent father Phelan Beale (the uncle of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) in the HBO telefilm “Grey Gardens,” lawyer Garrett Boydston on the ABC’s “Dynasty” and “The Colbys,” the retired police detective father of Jill Hennessy on “Crossing Jordan.”
He received a 1970 Tony Award as a phys-ed teacher at a Catholic boarding school for boys in “Child's Play.”
Survivors include his wife, retired stuntwoman Linda Fetters.
He earlier was married to actress Louise Sorel ("Days of Our Lives") and Margo Howard, the daughter of Eppie Lederer, who dispensed advice as the syndicated newspaper columnist Ann Landers. Both marriages ended in divorce.