'Guiding Light' Actor and History-Making Model Dies at 80

Renauld White, known for his trailblazing modeling career and performance on the soap opera Guiding Light, has died. He was 80 years old.

Fashion designer Jeffrey Banks, a close friend of the late model, shared the news on Instagram, writing, "It is with tremendous sadness that I report that my dearest friend and work colleague RENAULD WHITE, left us yesterday."

Banks recalled meeting White early in his career, noting that he was "always the perfect gentleman and a great ambassador for my brand," before sharing an anecdote about their close bond: "When first introduced to my Mother she claimed instantly that he was my 'older brother.' I only wished that was so."

The designer concluded his message with a touching sendoff, saying, "I shall miss our talks and times together, but will always remember the barriers you broke in the fashion industry and the love you shared as a trusted friend. Good night sweet Prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

No cause of death has been shared, and White's funeral will take place on July 12 at the Whigham Funeral Home located in Newark, N.J., where he was born and raised.

White began modeling in the '60s and quickly started pushing for more opportunities for people of color. He recalled in an interview with Black Living Knowledge, via the Loyalty Foundation, "I wanted to bring about change. I really confronted the establishment about why there were not more black male images."

"At first I thought I was going to get thrown in jail and beaten up because of my approach. But then they realized that they were wrong and that they were behind society and behind the times, and that they had to listen to me," he continued.

In 1979, White became the first African-American model to cover GQ and the second Black man to do so, following Swiss model Urs Althaus. He is also credited as being the first Black man to walk for designers like Bill Blass, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan.

Later in his career, White explored acting, appearing on the soap opera Guiding Light for several years and taking on a few other roles. He continued modeling throughout his life, and in 2023, he participated in a campaign for Dolce & Gabbana.

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