Alex Karras, who was a standout on the football field during his NFL days and went on to a successful career in television and film, has died. CNN reports that Karras, 77, died today at his home in Los Angeles.
Karras, one of the stars of the 1980s sitcom “Webster,” was surrounded by family members, a spokesman for the family said. Karras was thought to be near death after word surfaced that he had suffered kidney failure, as we reported Tuesday.
Karras died “after a heroic fight with kidney disease, heart disease, dementia and for the last two years, stomach cancer," the spokesman said.
One of Karras’ signature film roles was his performance as Mongo in the 1974 Mel Brooks comedy feature “Blazing Saddles.” He also portrayed a gay bodyguard in 1982 in Blake Edwards’ “Victor Victoria,” among other film appearances.
Karras was a defensive lineman for the NFL’s Detroit Lions from the late 1950s through the 1960s — a four-time Pro Bowler who was named to the 1960s All-Decade NFL Team. He entered the NFL after a stellar playing career at the University of Iowa.
Here’s the famous “punching the horse” clip from “Blazing Saddles” featuring Karras as Mongo: