Lance McAlister

Lance McAlister

Lance McAlister covers everything in Cincinnati sports! Host of sports talk on Cincinnati News Radio 700WLW and ESPN 1530!Full Bio


November 27, 1978: The White Shadow debuts on CBS

November 27, 1978: The White Shadow debuts on CBS

The White Shadow was one of my favorite shows growing up. I have the first season (15 episodes) on DVD. 

In the pilot episode, longtime Chicago Bulls player Ken Reeves — played by 6-foot-6 Long Island product Ken Howard — suffers a career-ending knee injury. Howard, who is white, accepts an offer from his former Boston College teammate turned principal to coach at Carver High School, a predominantly black inner-city high school.

The White Shadow became the first television ensemble drama to feature a mostly African American cast.

The show ran just 54 episodes but was nominated for an Emmy for Best Drama Series twice during its three-year run. It was a show ahead of its time, boldly going where many shows were unwilling to go in the 70's.....storylines dealt with drugs, alcohol, teen pregnancy, gambling, prostitution, domestic violence.

Ken Howard: Coach Ken Reeves

Thomas Carter: James “Hollywood” Hayward

Timothy Van Patten: Mario “Salami” Pettrino

Kevin Hooks: Morris Thorpe

Byron Stewart: Warren Coolidge: 

Ken Michelman: Abner Goldstein

Erik Kilpatrick: Curtis “CJ” Jackson

Ira Angustain: Ricky “Go-Go” Gomez

Nathan Cook: Milton Reese

Cameos on “The White Shadow” included the likes of Mickey Mantle, The Harlem Globetrotters, Red Auerbach, Bill Russell and Elgin Baylor.

The New York Post had an excellent read on the show and an update on cast members:

Long before a recent generation of sports fans enjoyed and devoured “Friday Night Lights,” viewers were introduced each week to Coach Reeves and Ms. Buchanan, Coolidge and Salami, Thorpe and Hayward, Go-Go and Goldstein, and the myriad problems they and their families encountered with drugs and teen pregnancy and domestic violence and countless other issues involving their personal lives in inner-city LA.

The Post caught up with several stars and family members associated with “The White Shadow” — which ran on CBS for just three seasons from 1978 to 1981 — to discuss the critically acclaimed, but short-lived, show’s impact ahead of its 40th anniversary this week.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content

700WLW Podcasts

See All