Actor Ken Howard, who won Emmy and Tony awards, has died at age 71, People magazine and Variety reported on Wednesday, quoting the actors union, SAG-AFTRA.
Howard had notable guest roles in such programs as "30 Rock" and was the head of the SAG-AFTRA actors' union.
Howard's death was confirmed by a statement from SAG-AFTRA.
"We are deeply saddened to announce that SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard passed away today," the union said. "Ken was an accomplished actor, author, teacher and unionist whose steady leadership as president of Screen Actors Guild positioned him to guide the union's historic 2012 merger with American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. In addition to his many professional credits, awards and other laudatory work, he led the union for nearly seven years and was devoted to the interests of its membership."
The cause of death was not announced.
The Yale-educated Howard first rose to fame for his portrayal of Thomas Jefferson in the 1969 musical "1776," a role he also performed in the 1972 screen version. In 1970, he won a Tony for her performance in the work "Child's Play."
But for many fans, he was known for starring as Ken Reeves, the white basketball coach of an inner-city Los Angeles high school in the series "The White Shadow." The 6-foot-6 Howard, a high school star in his own right, had been the only white player on his team and pitched the idea to producer-writer Bruce Paltrow.
"The White Shadow" never scored highly in the ratings but was lauded for its unflinching storylines -- in one episode a player was shot to death during a robbery -- and terrific performances. Such actors as Kevin Hooks and Timothy Van Patten first made their names on the CBS drama, which ran from 1978 to 1981.
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