Actor, Football Star Alex Karras Passes Away at 77
Variety reports that Alex Karras, the star of the film 'Blazing Saddles' and the TV series 'Webster' passed away today at age 77. The NFL star, who played for the Detroit Lions in the 1960's before he began his acting career, had been suffering from kidney failure. His attorney, Craig Mitnick said he was surrounded by family members at the time of his passing.
Karras was diagnosed with dementia in April. He was one of almost 3,500 former NFL players suing the league for head injuries caused during their careers. In 1958, he was the 10th overall draft pick by Detroit and became a four-time All-Pro defensive tackle over 12 seasons.
In addition to appearing in Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles, he portrayed a sheriff in the 1980's comedy "Porky's" and Emmanuel Lewis' adoptive father, George Papadapolis, in the TV sitcom "Webster."
Karras' wife, Susan Clark, who played the wife of his character on "Webster," said he was formally diagnosed with dementia several years ago and has had symptoms for more than a dozen years.
"Perhaps no player in Lions history attained as much success and notoriety for what he did after his playing days as did Alex," Lions president Tom Lewand said. "We know Alex first and foremost as one of the cornerstones to our Fearsome Foursome defensive line of the 1960s and also as one of the greatest defensive linemen to ever play in the NFL. Many others across the country came to know Alex as an accomplished actor and as an announcer during the early years of 'Monday Night Football.'"
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