Alex Karras

Active - 1968 - 2004  |   Born - Jul 15, 1935 in Gary, Indiana, United States  |   Died - Oct 10, 2012   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama

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A college football star at the University of Iowa, Alex Karras turned professional in 1958, spending the next 14 years with the Detroit Lions. Karras went on to be selected All-Pro in 1960, 1961, 1963 and 1965. While still with Detroit, he made his first film appearance in Paper Lion (1969). His appetite for show business further whetted by his work in the announcing booth on ABC's Monday Night Football, Karras became a full-time actor in 1971. He displayed a keen sense of comic timing in such roles as Mongo in Blazing Saddles (1974) and gangster James Garner's gay henchman (who literally comes out of the closet) in Victor/Victoria (1981). He often appeared opposite his wife, actress Susan Clark. Mr. and Mrs. Karras co-starred in the TV biopic Babe (1975), the raunchy but successful Porky's, and the long-running (1983-87) TV sitcom Webster. In addition to his thespic activities, Karras co-authored several books, including Even Big Guys Cry (1977) and Alex Karras: My Life in Football (1979). Karras suffered from numerous health problems in his later years, including dementia and cancer, before ultimately succumbing to kidney failure at the age of 77 in 2012.

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Factsheet

  • First round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 1958.
  • Suspended for one year by the NFL in 1963 for betting on football games.
  • Replaced Don Meredith as the color commentator on Monday Night Football in 1974.
  • Breakout film role came as Mongo in Blazing Saddles (1974).
  • Met second wife Susan Clark when they made the TV movie Babe together in 1975.