Ken Howard, Character Actor and Union President, Dies at 71

Ken Howard. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Ken Howard, the veteran actor who served as the head of influential Hollywood talent union SAG-AFTRA, died on Wednesday at the age of 71, the union announced. Over the course of 45 years in show business, Howard portrayed characters as diverse as Thomas Jefferson in 1776, an unlucky-in-love attorney in Dynasty, Kabletown head Hank Hooper in 30 Rock, and the title character's father in Crossing Jordan. In 2009, he won an Emmy for his role as Phelan Beale in the HBO movie Grey Gardens. That same year, Howard was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild, where he spearheaded the union's 2012 merger with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. He would serve as president of the combined SAG-AFTRA until his death.