Alex Karras, who played gay bodyguard “Squash” Bernstein in the Julie Andrews Academy Award winning 1982 hit film “Victor Victoria,” after a career as a football player and sportscaster, has died. Karras, who passed away after enduring kidney failure, dementia, heart disease and cancer, was 77. He may be best known for his role in the TV series “Webster.”
Karras had lived an amazing professional life. He had a medical degree, was an NFL football player with the Detroit Lions, was a professional wrestler, was a commentator on ABC’s “Monday Night Football,” was a writer, and acted in movies and TV.
Earlier this year, Karras joined a class-action lawsuit by former National Football League players who said the NFL did not do enough to protect them from head injuries. The suit said he had sustained repeated head trauma.
Karras’ lawyer, Craig Mitnick, said Karras was surrounded by family when died at his home in Los Angeles.
“He suffered from dementia for the last decade of his life,” Mitnick said. “He had lost his zest for life. He had suffered though dementia, he had suffered through cancer, his body just eventually gave way.
“He was such a strong, charismatic man. The dementia took that energy away.”
While he made hundreds of tackles on the football field, Karras’ most memorable take-down occurred on a movie screen when he played Mongo, a dull-witted brute who punched out a horse in Mel Brooks’ 1974 comic Western film, “Blazing Saddles.”
Here’s my personal favorite clip of ”Victor Victoria,” which shows Karras as James Garner’s character’s bodyguard.
He was an amazing man, and will be missed.
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