Renauld White, first African American ‘GQ’ cover model, dies at 80

The fashion world is mourning the death of a true trailblazer. Renauld White, the first African American model to grace the cover of GQ magazine, has died. He was 80.

Longtime friend and fashion designer Jeffrey Banks confirmed White’s death Wednesday. He was under hospice care in New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital. No cause of death was given.

White broke ground for American Black male models when he appeared on the cover of the men’s magazine in November 1979. The Newark native was the second Black model to ever appear on the title’s cover and worked in shows for designers including Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, Armani and Cerutti.

The Rutgers University alum branched into acting with a two-year stint on the CBS soap opera “The Guiding Light” and also counted the movies “Gun Hill” and “Central Park” among his screen credits. In 1998, he played the titular role in “Julius Caesar Set in Africa” at Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and also appeared on the covers of Essence, Ebony and others during a career that began in the early 1970s.

White, who was featured in Dolce & Gabbana’s 2023 campaign shot by Steven Meisel, closed out his long career on a high note, gracing the February 2024 cover of Ambassador Digital Magazine.

“We celebrated our 80th issue with Renauld on the cover for his 80th birthday,” Ambassador’s editor-in-chief Musa Jackson told The Daily News on Monday. “He and I were longtime friends but it was a true honor for him to do his last cover shoot with us. He was so graceful and still at the top of his game in his latter years. A true gentleman and a consummate professional to the very end.”

Funeral arrangements for White will be held on July 12 at Whigham Funeral Home in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey.