George Clooney Remembers Ken Howard’s Help in Early Acting Days

George Clooney Ken Howard
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George Clooney recalled an act of kindness decades ago by the late Ken Howard, who died Wednesday at the age of 71.

“There’s a story about how a young actor met Ken on the Fox lot in 1983 and told him what a fan he was of ‘The White Shadow,'” Clooney said in a tribute he released just hours after news of Howard’s death broke. “Ken asked that actor what he did and the young man said, ‘Well someday I hope to be lucky enough to work with you.'”

Clooney said he told Howard that he had an audition at Paramount — seven miles away — but he wasn’t going to make it in time because all he had was a bike.

“So Ken put his bike in the trunk of his car and dropped him off at Paramount,” Clooney added. “Then Ken just waved goodbye and said good luck, ‘I hope we do get that chance to work together.’ I didn’t get that audition, But I did get the chance to work with him years later. It was an honor. Today his obituary read that he was six foot six, but he was so much taller than that.”

Howard and Clooney worked together in Tony Gilroy’s 2007 thriller “Michael Clayton.” Clooney starred as a fixer for a top law firm while Howard played the ruthless CEO of the corporation that Clooney’s firm represented in a multimillion-dollar class action lawsuit.

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  1. Arne Yoga says:

    While mine is not your typical “Hollywood” story of pre-screen success days, it is nonetheless a tribute to the kind, simple and thoughtful man Ken Howard had very likely been to many. I was working as a lowly “background” character (a.k.a.: extra) on a television series that Ken was guest starring in. At the breakfast truck, I struck up a conversation with Ken, telling him how much I enjoyed his work on “The White Shadow”. He said thank you but rather than bathe in my admiration for him, he asked me about my life. He kept asking pointed questions until I revealed to him I had completed my Masters Degree but was at a crossroads between jobs as I worked on a writing project. He then revealed to me how had been a adjunct professor at Harvard and asked me how long it would take him to achieve his Masters Degree. We talked for quite some time that morning and a few days thereafter but I always wanted to let him know how much I appreciated his intelligence and humanity and how he didn’t make me feel like a despicable toilet cleaner as most do when you work as an “extra”. His decency was a large contribution to that which led me to value my work and life and towards the happy path I am on now. As opposed to being a forlorn “loser” most bit players in Hollywood feel if they don’t somehow win the “jackpot” and have a reasonably successful career in showbiz, which happens to be the case for more than 99.9999% of all of those who try to “make it” in Hollywood, regardless of their looks or talent.

    Ken Howard was first and foremost a humanitarian and this was loudly reflected in all he did by one who may have only known him somewhat briefly but nevertheless was profoundly impacted by his decency, which, believe me, is a rare and treasured feature in the “real world”.

    Rest in Peace Howard. My apologies for never having the opportunity to let you know what you meant to me. I hope your journey from here be all that you richly deserve.

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