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Alex Karras Acting Career Remembered: Looking Back

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By Emma Koonse, Christian Post Reporter
October 10, 2012|2:24 pm

Following the death of Alex Karras on Wednesday, fans have honored the athlete-turned-actor by reflecting on his career.

Although he was part of the "Fearsome Foursome" as Detroit Lions defensive lineman for 10 non-consecutive years, Karras was also well known for portraying unique and memorable characters on both television and in films.

After retiring from the NFL in 1970, Karras played an essential role as himself in the film adaptation of George Plimpton's "Paper Lion." He then made several appearances on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" before becoming a full-time actor.

One year after landing a role in the 1973 film "The 500-Pound Jerk," Karras portrayed a thug named Mongo on the television series "Blazing Saddles."

Due to Karras' role as Mongo, the movie's line, "Don't know … Mongo only a pawn in game of life," became famous.

That same year, Karras became a commentator on ABC's "Monday Night Football," where he stayed for three years.

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Karras returned to acting with roles in films "Porky's and "Centennial" and in the 1980s, the actor went on to portray a family man named George Papadapolis on ABC's "Webster." His onscreen wife, Susan Clark, was also his wife in real life.

Karras died at age 77 in Los Angeles surrounded by his wife and kids. His family's spokesperson revealed that he had experienced kidney failure, heart disease, dementia and stomach cancer.

"Alex was known to family and friends as a gentle, loving, generous man who loved gardening and preparing Greek and Italian feasts," the Karras family wrote in a statement, according to CNN.

On Twitter, hundreds of tributes to Karras have surfaced after the news of his death spread on Wednesday.

"RIP Alex Karras," wrote morning talk show host and athlete Michael Strahan. "Football and acting legend!"

Wrestling announcer Howard Finkel posted, "RIP NFL great turned actor Alex Karras… Loved his classic line in Blazing Saddles: 'Mongo only pawn in game of life'"

"Farewell to Alex Karras, who blew my mind as Mongo in 'Blazing Saddles,' a flick that inspires me to this day," wrote Twitter user Dan.

NFL legend Barry Sanders posted, "I'd like to send my condolences to the family and friends of Alex Karras. May the great Lion rest in peace."

 

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