Football star, actor Alex Karras passes away at 77
Karras was best known to moviegoers as 'Mongo' in 1974's 'Blazing Saddles'
Former Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras, who went on to act in movies and television has died at the age of 77. Karras had suffered in his later years from kidney disease, heart disease, dementia and stomach cancer, according to his family.
As an actor, Alex Karras is probably best known as the burly imbecile "Mongo" - so tough he knocks out a horse with a single blow - in Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles."
Karras later pursued acting. He's probably best known as the burly imbecile "Mongo" - so tough he knocks out a horse with a single blow - in Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles."
He then went on to star in the 1980s' sitcom "Webster" - he played George Papadapolis, the guardian of the newly orphaned Webster, played by actor Emmanuel Lewis.
"Karras had always dreamed of being an actor," and got a boost when Lucille Ball "took him under her wing and allowed him to train in small parts."
Karras co-wrote two autobiographies entitled "Even Big Guys Cry" and "Alex Karras by Alex Karras."
"His love of nature and most especially of the ocean, where he spent many happy days on his fishing boat, led him to support numerous organizations committed to protecting our environment for future generations," his family said.
Last April, Karras joined hundreds of former NFL players suing the league over concussion-related injuries. Karras served as lead plaintiff for what was then the 12th concussion-related complaint filed against the NFL by the Locks Law Firm in Philadelphia.
Karras "sustained repetitive traumatic impacts to his head and/or concussions on multiple occasions" during his NFL career, and "suffers from various neurological conditions and symptoms related to the multiple head traumas," the lawsuit said.
His wife and "Webster" co-star Susan Clark had revealed at that time that Karras suffered from dementia.
The more than 2,000 NFL players who are suing the league claim the NFL misled players concerning the risks associated with concussions. The NFL has repeatedly said that player safety is a priority and that any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit.
Memorial services are being planned and will be announced shortly.
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