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Famous Soap Opera Star Dies at 80

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Black model and actor Renauld White, famed for his pioneering efforts in the fashion and entertainment sectors, died on June 26, 2024. He was 80 years old at the time of his death, which occurred while he was receiving hospice care at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, New York City.

White, born in Newark, New Jersey, made his mark in the fashion industry during the 1970s, shattering barriers for Black models. In a historic moment in November 1979, he became the second Black model to appear on the cover of GQ magazine, following in the footsteps of Swiss model Urs Althaus. This notable achievement marked a significant step towards increased diversity in the modeling industry.

Throughout his commendable career, White collaborated with prominent fashion figures such as Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Bill Blass. He was among the first Black models to walk for notable designers like Donna Karan. His influence was not restricted to the runway; in 1982, he was featured on Playboy’s cover, further establishing his reputation as an industry pioneer.

White’s contribution to the fashion industry was not solely through modeling. He actively campaigned for more diversity in the sector, going head-to-head with modeling agencies over the lack of opportunities for Black models. His advocacy resulted in positive changes and created more avenues for future models of color.

White ventured into acting in 1986, making his debut on the popular soap opera “Guiding Light.” He played the character William Reynolds for several years, featuring in numerous episodes from 1986 until 1992. This marked the start of his successful acting career that spanned multiple decades.

Besides his work in “Guiding Light,” White’s acting portfolio included roles in various TV shows and movies. He appeared in the TV movie “Gun Hill” in 2014 and the horror film “Central Park” in 2017, his last on-screen performance. Throughout his career, White consistently advocated for better representation of Black actors in the entertainment industry.

Even towards the end of his career, White remained a significant figure in the fashion world. He returned from retirement in 2023, at 79, to participate in a campaign for Dolce & Gabbana, demonstrating his lasting influence and appeal in the fashion industry.

His longtime friend, fashion designer Jeffrey Banks, announced White’s death, describing him as “the perfect gentleman and a great ambassador” for his brand. White’s career is remembered with widespread respect and admiration in the fashion and entertainment industries.

A funeral service for Renauld White is scheduled for July 12, 2024 in Newark, New Jersey.

White’s legacy as a pioneer for diversity and representation in the fashion and entertainment sectors is expected to continue inspiring future generations, even as the industry mourns his loss.

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