Alex Karras, a former star NFL lineman whose affable nature and comedic flair propelled him to even greater fame in movies and TV, including the sitcom “Webster,” died in Los Angeles Wednesday of kidney failure. Karras was among the first pro sports stars to transition to movies and TV.
Noted for having punched out a horse in the 1974 Mel Brooks film comedy “Blazing Saddles,” Karras went on to star in the ABC sitcom “Webster” from 1983-87 alongside his wife Susan Clark. He played the title character’s adoptive father.
The same year “Blazing Saddles” debuted, Karras began a three-year stint as a commentator on ABC’s “Monday Night Football.”
Karras also guest-starred on “M*A*S*H*” and did short stint on “Match Game ’75.” He and Clark were also in the 1975 CBS movie “Babe,” in which he played George Zaharias to her Babe Didrickson. The six-foot-two, 250-pound Karras started his film career while still playing for the Detroit Lions. He portrayed himself in the film adaptation of George Plimpton’s book “Paper Lion.”
The league forced him to give up his interest in a Detroit bar, citing reports of gambling and organized crime influence. It also suspended him for a year after he admitted placing bets on NFL games.
Karras suffered from symptoms of dementia for years.