As a kid in high school watching football on Sunday afternoons, I remember Alex Karras as a fierce defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions. When he retired from the game in 1970 at age 35, the last thing I expected to see from him was the character of a Mongo in Mel Brook’s 1974 film ‘Blazing Saddle’s in which he delivered his classic line Mongo only pawn in game of life”. Later that year he joined Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell in the monday Night Football booth until 1976. He then went on to play a lovable dad alongside his real life wife Susan Clark with Emmanuel Lewis as lead character Webster Long, in ‘Webster’. The show was an immediate hit from its debut in 1983 through 1989. This past April, he joined more than 3,500 football veterans suing the league for not protecting them better from head injuries. More recently he suffered kidney failure and had been diagnosed with dementia. He had also suffered from heart disease and stomach cancer.
The suffering ended this morning. He was 77.
Alex’ most memorable moment from Blazing Saddles
Monday Night Football opening: October 16, 1976 – note the fashions and hairstyles
Alex in ‘Webster’