Whether he's remembered as the adoptive father of a precocious little boy in "Webster," or as the dim-witted brute with a big heart known as Mongo in "Blazing Saddles," both the pro-football and entertainment world was saddened to hear of the passing of Alex Karras at the age of 77 on Wednesday. Karras had been battling dementia for a long time and was one of many former NFL greats who were involved in a lawsuit against the league over head injuries sustained while playing the sport.
Karras first shot to fame as an incredible talented linebacker for the Detroit Lions. After his NFL career ended, Karras was cast in one of Mel Brooks' most famous and critically acclaimed comedies, "Blazing Saddles." Alex capitalized on his massive size by playing the comically slow Mongo, delivering few lines but many big laughs. In 1983 Karras signed on to play the adopted father of "Webster," played by Emmanuel Lewis. The family-oriented sitcom lasted six years.
His passing puts Karras in the company of other stars who have died this year. Here a few of them.
Johnny Lewis - Just over a week ago, the "Sons of Anarchy" star was found dead outside the home of his elderly landlady, who also lay dead, the victim of an apparent murder inside the home. In a sad and bizarre twist to the story, Lewis is the only suspect in his landlady's death, according to police. Lewis was cremated and his ashes were spread in the ocean near San Diego, according to his death certificate.
Andy Williams - On September 26th, the golden voiced crooner of such standard classics as "Moon River" and "Lips of Wine" passed away. Andy was also known as the host of the long-running television variety show appropriately named, "The Andy Williams Show." Williams was 84 when he lost his battle with bladder cancer.
Michael Clarke Duncan - On September 3rd, the gentle giant passed away after a two-month battle for his life following a heart attack. Best known for his work in "The Green Mile" opposite Tom Hanks, Duncan was beloved for his big smile and upbeat spirit. His performance in that film garnered him his one and only Academy Award nomination. Duncan will appear in two upcoming films, "In The Hive," and "The Challenger."
Neil Armstrong - No, Armstrong wasn't a famous rock star, actor or director. But he was as close to all those occupations rolled into one, being that he was the first man to ever set foot on tour moon. Armstrong was the commander of the historical Apollo 11 flight that finally achieved President Kennedy's mission for the country to put a man on that big white rock that orbits above our planet.
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