Alex Karras, the man who spent part of his life playing the most violent of sports and then went on to portray one of the gentlest father figures on television, has passed away at the age of 77. Karras died today of kidney failure in his Los Angeles home.
Karras lived two lives in entertainment; he's best known in the TV world for his role as father George Papadapolis on Webster. He co-starred alongside his real-life wife Susan Clark in the 1980s sitcom, in which he played the adoptive father of the titular character, played by Emmanuel Lewis. Karras also appeared on M*A*S*H and The Odd Couple, and in the films Victor Victoria and Porky's. But to me, he'll always be Mongo, the dim-witted, horse-punching oaf from Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles.
Before his acting career, Karras laid people out on the football field. Following a collegiate career at the University of Iowa, Karras played defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions for 12 seasons beginning in 1958. He also found himself in the booth of Monday Night Football in the 1970s.
Karras had suffered from dementia in recent years, and was part of the April lawsuit against the NFL by former players over concussion-related injuries.
Here's Karras as Mongo in Blazing Saddles. Warning: NSFW language