Home Television Drama White Shadow, The

White Shadow, The

1 9 7 8 – 1 9 8 1 (USA)

This drama series focused on Ken Reeves (Ken Howard), a one-time professional basketball player with the Chicago Bulls.

A succession of knee injuries had forced him out of the game, and he took up a job as basketball coach at Carver High School in Los Angeles.

Carver High was an inner-city school with lots of problems, not just among the kids. It was a hard job, especially for someone unfamiliar with street-wise kids and coaching them in a game he knew best as a player.

Ken could have earned more doing something else – as his sister Katie (Robin Rose) kept reminding him – but he found greater satisfaction working with these teenagers.

Ken’s old friend Jim Willis (Ed Bernard) was Carver’s principal, and Sybil Buchanan (Joan Pringle) was the vice principal (and occasional thorn in Ken’s side) who became principal in 1980.

The show focused mainly on members of Ken’s basketball team, although The White Shadow was more than just a basketball show. It was also the story of young people and their adjustments to life in an often hostile world.

Within the framework of a high school basketball team were stories of personal conflict, drug problems, teenage crime, and the dangers in a tough area – in the spring of 1980 one of Ken’s players, Curtis Jackson (Eric Kilpatrick), was shot to death while witnessing a liquor store hold-up.

As in real life, students moved on, and in the spring of 1980, after the team won the LA City Basketball Championship, several players graduated from Carver and were replaced by new players in the fall.

The series treated its subjects sympathetically and with a high degree of realism, and was lauded by educational organisations although its audience size remained marginal throughout its run.

Ken Reeves 
Ken Howard
Jim Willis 

Ed Bernard
Sybil Buchanan 

Joan Pringle
James Hayward 

Thomas Carter
Morris Thorpe 

Kevin Hooks
Katie Donahue 

Robin Rose
Bill Donahue 

Jerry Fogel
Curtis Jackson 

Eric Kilpatrick
Milton Reese 

Nathan Cook
Ricky ‘Go-Go’ Gomez 

Ira Augustain
Warren ‘Cool’ Coolidge 

Byron Stewart
Mario ‘Salami’ Pettrino: 

Timothy Van Patten
Ezra Davis

Roosevelt Grier
Eddie Franklin

Art Holliday
Jesse Mitchell
Stoney Jackson
Wardell Stone

Larry Flash Jenkins
Paddy Falahey

John Laughlin
Nick Vatalgia

John Mengatti
Abner Goldstein

Ken Michelman
Teddy Rutherford

Wolfe Perry
Phil Jefferson

Russell Phillip Robinson
Katie Donahue

Robin Pearson Rose