LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — Alex Karras, an All-Pro lineman for the Detroit Lions, who transitioned to a successful career in acting, died Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 77.
According to the New York Times, Karras family said he suffered from heart disease and stomach cancer, as well as dementia at the time of his passing.
While he played in the NFL, Karras was known for his pass rush and ferocious tackling, playing with the Lions for 12 seasons over 13 years from 1958 to 1970. During that time, he played in four Pro Bowls, and he was a member of the N.F.L’s All-Decade team of the 1960s.
However, his penchant for speaking his mind about the NFL and team policies towards players often set him at odds with league officials and team owners and managers, and his involvement with a minor betting scandal may have left him unofficially blackballed from the Hall of Fame.
Following his career on the gridiron, took a turn at acting, with his film debut seeing him cast as himself in the film adaption of George Plimpton's football film "Paper Lions."
Other film credits for Karras include roles in "Porky's," the suspenseful drama "Against All Odds," the Mel Brooks comedy classic "Blazing Saddles," and the musical comedy "Victor/Victoria"
He also spent some time behind the broadcast desk, covering Monday Night Football for ABC with the likes of Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford.
In the 1980s, Karras was cast, with Emmanuel Lewis, as a retired football player who takes in an African-American boy in the beloved oddball situational comedy "Webster."
In addition to his wife, he is survived by their daughter, Katherine Karras; a sister, Nan Reisen; three brothers, Louis, Paul and Ted; five children from a previous marriage, Alex Jr., Peter, Carolyn Karras, George and Renald; and five grandchildren. – Staff Writers