Alex Karras mourned in Gary, Ind.

File photo shows Detroit Lions' Alex Karras. (AP Photo/File)
October 12, 2012 4:45:04 AM PDT
Alex Karras, the rugged lineman who anchored the Detroit Lions' defense in the 1960s, then went on to an acting career in which he starred in the sitcom ''Webster'' and famously punched a horse in the 1974 comedy ''Blazing Saddles,'' died Wednesday. He was 77.

Football legend Alex Karras died at his home in the Hollywood Hills. The 77- year-old defensive lineman played for the Detroit Lions in the 1960s.

The Gary Ind., native and Emerson High School graduate suffered from Alzheimer's disease, stomach cancer and kidney failure.

His older brothers also played football. Lou Karras played for the Washington Redskins, and Ted Karras was an offensive lineman for the 1963 champion Chicago Bears

"He was a great guy. Football players looked up to him. He was sort of a silent leader," said Ted Karras, brother.

Karras' nephew Jeff, a high school football coach, spent time with him in Los Angeles.

"I knew him as a kind, gentle person, very intelligent with a spiritual side, very understanding and supportive," Jeff Karras said.

Karras went on to an acting career, gaining notoriety for punching the horse in the comedy "Blazing Saddles," the movie "Victor Victoria" and acting alongside his wife, actress Susan Clark in the television sitcom "Webster."

"He spoke about moving to Hollywood, taking that step. He was not afraid to put himself out there and ending up very successful," Ted Karras said.

Detroit drafted Karras out of Iowa University. He was a four-time all pro defensive tackle over 12 seasons. His mother was inducted into the Hall of Fame for being the mom of three pro football players. His family believes he was kept out of the NFL Hall of Fame for allegations of betting on NFL games

"He never cared about being in the Hall of Fame," Ted karras said.

Karras did care about his extended family, his children, grandchildren and his wife Susan.

"There is a sadness that I will not be able to talk to him anymore. He did everything his way," Ted Karras said.


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