Renauld White, Groundbreaking Black Model and ‘Guiding Light’ Actor, Dies at 80

In 1979, he became just the second Black model to appear on the cover of GQ, going on to work with top designers worldwide

Josh Lucas and Renauld White during "Poseidon" After Party at Barneys at Barneys in New York City, New York, United States
Josh Lucas and Renauld White during "Poseidon" After Party at Barneys at Barneys in New York City, New York, United States (Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

Renauld White, who starred on the soap opera then known as “The Guiding Light” for two years and broke racial barriers as only the second Black model to appear on the cover of GQ, died on June 26. He’d been in hospice care at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. White was 80 years old.

Fashion designer Jeffrey Banks, a friend of White’s, shared the news with Women’s Wear Daily. More information about the cause of White’s death was not immediately available.

In November 1979, White became the second Black model to appear on the cover of GQ following Urs Althaus’ cover in 1977. White worked with designer Bill Blass in 1969 and walked in shows for Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren.

Banks told WWD that White “was a groundbreaker. There were very few Black models at the time. He really broke barriers. When they had a party for him in Newark for his 50-year anniversary in the fashion industry, he was very proud of the progress and how he opened the doors for other people.”

The pair were first introduced in 1971 at a fitting for Ralph Lauren, where Banks worked.

In an interview with The Morning Call in 1987, White explained that his father first inspired his love for fashion. “Actually, I got a feeling for clothes from my Dad — he always was an elegant man and a grand dresser. He’s a truck driver with a taste for the finer things in life,” White shared.

Modeling was not White’s only vocation. When he wasn’t shooting covers or walking runways, he appeared in films (he had a part in “The Stepford Wives”) and off-Broadway productions. He took a hiatus from modeling in 1985 after he landed the role of William on “The Guiding Light.”

“I must admit I was nervous at the beginning of the showings here at MFA, having missed the past two years because of my acting commitment with ‘The Guiding Light,’” he said. “Actually I had to ask to be written out of the soap for the week so that I could attend this week’s showings. Coming back after two years, I was a little out of sync for awhile.”

Renauld White was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, and attended Rutgers University. He began modeling after he was signed by Zoli Modeling Agency. White’s funeral will be held on July 12 at 11 a.m. at the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark.

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