Iconic Fashion Model and Actor Renauld White Dead at Age 80

GettyImages-106979483 Renauld White
Renauld White Jemal Countess/WireImage

Fashion model and soap opera actor Renauld White has died at the age of 80.

White’s longtime friend, fashion designer Jeffrey Banks, told Women’s Wear Daily that White was under hospice care in New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital when he passed away on Wednesday, June 26.

A cause of death has not been confirmed.

Banks, 81, also shared the news via Instagram on Thursday, June 27. “It is with tremendous sadness that I report that my dearest friend and work colleague, RENAULD WHITE, left us yesterday," Banks wrote, including an old photo of White as a model. "Modeling for me from the very start of my career, RENAULD was always the perfect gentleman and a great ambassador for my brand. When first introduced to my Mother she claimed instantly that he was my 'older brother.' I only wished that was so."

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Banks continued: “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.”

White appeared on the cover of GQ magazine in November 1979. He was the second Black model to ever appear on the title’s cover.

White was an advocate for greater representation within the fashion industry, with WWD reporting that he forged “greater diversity on designer runways.”

He was seen as a model in shows for designers including Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan, and also worked for the likes of fashion houses including Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, Armani and Cerutti.

White also appeared in campaigns for brands including Macy’s, Black Tie cologne, Arrow Shirts and Vitalis.

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White was also known for portraying the character of William Reynolds on CBS’ Guiding Light, which aired from 1952 to 2009. According to Deadline, White appeared on the show for two years during the 1980s.

Although he was in retirement from both acting and modeling at the time, in 2023, White briefly returned to the spotlight to feature in an ad campaign for Dolce & Gabbana which was shot by acclaimed celebrity and style photographer, Steven Meisel.

During a 2011 interview, White detailed how he called on Wilhelmina Models, a modeling agency, to encourage more people of color to join the industry, per WWD.

“I wanted to bring about change. I really confronted the establishment about why there were not more Black male images," White said in the interview. "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.”