Though typecast as a dull-witted brute, Austrian-born Mike Mazurki was the holder of a Bachelor of Arts degree from Manhattan College. During the 1930s, he was a professional football and basketball player, as well as a heavyweight wrestler. His clock-stopping facial features enabled Mazurki to pick up bit and supporting roles in such films as The Shanghai Gesture (1941) and Dr.Renault's Secret (1943). Larger parts came his way after his indelible portrayal of psychotic brute Moose Malloy in 1944's Murder My Sweet. His trademarked slurred speech was reportedly the result of an injury to his Adam's apple, incurred during his wrestling days. While villainy was his bread and butter, Mazurki enjoyed working with comedians like Jerry Lewis and Lou Costello; he was particularly fond of the latter because the diminutive Costello treated him with dignity and respect, defending big Mike against people who treated the hulking actor like a big dumb lug. Mazurki's many TV appearances included a regular role on the short-lived 1971 sitcom The Chicago Teddy Bears. In 1976, Mike Mazurki was effectively cast as a kindly trapper in the family-oriented "four-waller" Challenge to Be Free, which ended up a cash cow for the veteran actor.