White Shadow

White Shadow

Synopsis of TV Show

When a professional athlete busts his knee, there are a few vocational routes to take. There’s sports commentary, the autobiography business, personal appearances at used car lot grand openings, and the lecture circuit—all careers that A.E. Housman may have been thinking of when he wrote his poem "To An Athlete Dying Young." But more than all of those other post-athletic activities, there’s coaching, shaping young talent with the wisdom accrued in years of experience.

Fictional Chicago Bulls forward Ken Reeves was talked into the latter career by his old friend and teammate Jim Willis, and that was the premise behind TV's White Shadow. Jim was a principal at Los Angeles’ Carver High School, nestled right inside an inner-city, working-class neighborhood…and though Reeves was new to the world of clipboards and de facto paternal responsibilities, coaching soon appeared to be his true calling.

The White Shadow was created by TV producer (and big basketball fan) Bruce Paltrow, later of St. Elsewhere and father to Ms. Gwyneth you-know-who. It was about the sport, of course, but it was also about a growing up in a tough neighborhood at a tough time. The kids on the team had to face drugs, gangs, race hostility, learning disabilities, financial hardship, and more—so it wasn’t all towel rattail fights in the locker room. Whatever the dilemma, Coach Reeves figured into the solution, be it through good advice or hands-on intervention. His players trusted him, and given the general mistrust they had for people older than them, that was really saying something.

In the 1979-80 season, b-baller Curtis Jackson was shot while standing in a liquor store that was being held up. That was also the year that a load of players “graduated” from high school and moved on…and a new batch of actors came in to take their place. In its third season, the show lightened up—there were more laughs and decidedly more singing in the shower, which some would argue the Carver players did as well as they played hoops.

On the court or off, the young men on the Carver High basketball team were a funny and eclectic group, and their coach, their “white shadow,” was always there to lend an assist.

Release History of Prime Time Show

11/27/78 - 8/12/81 CBS

TV Sub Categories


Television Network


Television Studio


TV Cast

Ken Reeves Ken Howard
Jim Willis (first episode) Jason Bernard
Jim Willis (1978-80) Ed Bernard
Sybil Buchanan Joan Pringle
James Hayward (1978-80) Thomas Carter
Morris Thorpe Kevin Hooks
Curtis Jackson (1978-80) Eric Kilpatrick
Milton Reese (1978-80) Nathan Cook
Mario "Salami" Pettrino Timothy Van Patten
Abner Goldstein (1978-80) Ken Michelman
Ricky Gomez (1978-80) Ira Angustain
Warren Coolidge Byron Stewart
Katie Donahue (1978-79) Robin Rose
Bill Donahue (1978-79) Jerry Fogel
Nick Vitaglia (1979-81) John Mengatti
Manager Phil Jefferson (1979-81) Russell Phillip Robinson
Wardell Stone (1980-81) Larry Flash Jenkins
Jesse B. Mitchelll (1980-81) Stoney Jackson
Teddy Rutherford (1980-81) Wolfe Perry
Eddie Franklin (1980-81) Art Holliday
Paddy Falahey (1980-81) John Laughlin
Ezra Davis (1980-81) Rosey Grier

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