Alex Karras

Actor, Producer, Professional football player
Former NFL great Alex Karras made his transition to acting appear almost too easy, only to further defy expectations by taking on roles that skewed away from the tough guy image he had cultivated as a professional ... Read more »
Born: 07/15/1935 in Gary, Indiana, USA

Filmography

Actor (37)

Tracey Takes On... 1995 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Buffalo '66 1998 (Movie)

The TV Sportscaster (Actor)

The Tom Show 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Arli$$ 1996 (Tv Show)

Actor

Circus of the Stars Gives Kids the World 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

Will You Marry Me? 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

Civil Wars 1992 - 1993 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Ben Stiller Show 1992 - 1993 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Secret of the Twin Sister 1993 (Movie)

Floyd Powell (Actor)

Webster 1983 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Against All Odds 1984 (Movie)

Hank Sully (Actor)

M*A*S*H 1972 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

Maid in America 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

Victor/Victoria 1982 (Movie)

Squash (Actor)

Nobody's Perfekt 1981 (Movie)

Swaboda (Actor)

Porky's 1981 (Movie)

Sheriff Wallace (Actor)

When Time Ran Out 1979 (Movie)

Tiny Baker (Actor)

FM 1978 (Movie)

Doc Holiday (Actor)

Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang 1978 (Movie)

Hooded Fang (Actor)

Mulligan's Stew 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Actor

Babe 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

Blazing Saddles 1974 (Movie)

Mongo (Actor)

The Great Lester Boggs 1974 (Movie)

Sheriff Billy Bob (Actor)

Win, Place or Steal 1974 (Movie)

Frank (Actor)

Super Comedy Bowl 1 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Actor

Paper Lion 1969 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Centennial (TV Show)

Actor

Fudge-A-Mania (TV Show)

Actor

Hardcase (TV Show)

Actor

Jimmy B. & Andre (TV Show)

Actor

Mad Bull (TV Show)

Actor

The 500-Pound Jerk (TV Show)

Actor

The Greek Americans (TV Show)

Actor

Word of Honor (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

Former NFL great Alex Karras made his transition to acting appear almost too easy, only to further defy expectations by taking on roles that skewed away from the tough guy image he had cultivated as a professional athlete. As one of the greatest defensive tackles ever to play the game of football, Karras enjoyed a college career in which he won the Outland Trophy and a Rose Bowl Championship in 1957, followed by an impressive 12-year run with the Detroit Lions. His segue into acting began while he was still with the Lions, when he appeared as himself in the football docudrama "Paper Lion" (1968). After leaving football, Karras began appearing on various TV series and in movies, usually as a hulking bad guy or athlete. With his uproarious turn as the dim-witted man-mountain Mongo in "Blazing Saddles" (1974), he displayed not only a knack for comedy, but a willingness to laugh at himself. Over the course of the next decade he took on diverse roles in a variety of TV and film projects that included a role as a gold prospector in the miniseries "Centennial" (NBC, 1978-79) and a turn as a closeted gay bodyguard in "Victor/Victoria" (1982), opposite Julie Andrews and James Garner. Perhaps his most fondly remembered television role would be as the adoptive father of Emmanuel Lewis on the family diversity sitcom "Webster" (ABC, 1983-87; syndicated, 1987-89). Whether it was in the character of athlete, hired thug, lawman, or loving father, Karras endeared himself to audiences with performances that displayed surprising heart and humility for a man known early on as one of the hardest hitters in pro football.

Relationships

Susan Clark Actor

Wife
Met on set of CBS movie "Babe" (1975); co-starred as husband and wife Married May 21, 1980 until his death Oct. 10, 2012

Joan Jurgenson

Wife
Married 1958 Divorced 1975

George Karras

Father

Emmiline Karras

Mother

Katie Karras

Daughter
Born Jan. 31, 1980; mother, Susan Clark

George Karras

Son

Alex Karras

Son

Peter Karras

Son

EDUCATION

University of Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa 1958
two-time All-Big Ten defensive tackle

Milestones

1998

Cast in Vincent Gallo's "Buffalo '66"

1995

Acted in "Fudge-A-Mania," a production of "The ABC Family Movie"

1989

Inducted into National Iowa Varsity Club Athletics Hall of Fame

1984

Played a football player in Taylor Hackford's "Against All Odds"

1983

Starred opposite Clark as pro football player-turned-sportscaster George Papadopolis, who becomes guardian to his godson "Webster" (ABC); Georgian Bay Productions one of three production companies credited along with Emmanuel Lewis Entertainment and Param

1982

Shone as James Garner's gay bodyguard Squash in Blake Edwards' "Victor/Victoria"

1982

Executive produced (with Clark) CBS movie "Maid in America"; Clark and he also starred

1981

Portrayed Sherrif Wallace in "Porky's"

1981

With Clark, executive produced the CBS movie "Word of Honor"; made unbilled appearance as Manager of Supermarket Meat Department; Clark did not act

1980

First offering from Georgian Bay Productions, CBS movie "Jimmy B & Andre"; starred as title character; Clark (who shared executive producing duties) played small role

1980

Appeared as Jughead Miller in NBC miniseries "Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story"

1978

Founded film production company Georgian Bay Productions with Clark

1978

Acted in epic NBC miniseries "Centennial"

1977

Played hulking wrestler Iago 'Mad Bull' Karkus in CBS movie "Mad Bull"

1976

First credit as executive producer, "Mighty Moose and the Quarterback Kid," an "ABC Afterschool Special"; also starred as football player 'Mighty Moose' Novak

1975

Portrayed George Zaharis to future wife Susan Clark's Babe Didrickson in CBS biopic "Babe"

1974

Made feature film debut playing character other than himself in Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles" as Mongo

1974

Was a regular announcer on ABC's "Monday Night Football"

1973

Played gentle hillbilly weight lifter Hughie Ray Feather in CBS movie "The 500-Pound Jerk"

1972

TV-movie debut, "Hardcase" (ABC)

1969

Named to Iowa's all-time football team (selected by fans)

1968

Made feature film debut (as himself) in "Paper Lion," based on the book by George Plimpton

1964

Resumed career with Lions, finishing his 12-year pro career with one team

1963

Suspended along with Green Bay Packer Paul Hornung for one season by NFL Commisioner Pete Rozelle for betting on football; both Hornung and he bet on their respective teams to win

1958

Played defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions

1957

Signed a professional wrestling contract; signed with football team the Detroit Lions eight days later

1957

Consensus all-American; won Outland Trophy as outstanding collegiate interior lineman

1956

Played on Iowa's Rose Bowl team; named Associated Press All-American

Bonus Trivia

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Karras, who was on the field when New Orleans Saints Tom Dempsy hammered his record 63 yard field, said "Dempsy didn't kick the ball, God did. A man couldn't kick it that far."

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While with the Detroit Lions, Karras was selected all-pro defensive tackle in 1960, 1961, and 1965. He was named to NFL's Pro Bowl team in 1961, 1962, 1963, and 1966.

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In April 2012, Karras revealed he suffered from dementia and blamed the NFL for not properly protecting him and other players from concussions.

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Karras suffered kidney failure in October 2012. He was treated at a hospital in Santa Monica, CA and was later released for hospice care at his home in California.

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