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Former Lions Star Alex Karras Dies

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- Alex Karras, the Detroit Lions football star-turned-actor, has died, ABC News Radio has confirmed.  He was 77. 

Karras was reported to be ill and near death just a few days ago.  His lawyer, Craig Mitnik, tells ABC News Radio, "He was an amazing man in everything he did.  He fought really, really hard through his dementia and cancer.”

Karras was with the Lions from 1958–1962 and from 1964-1970, and was part of the 1962 Lions' vaunted "Fearsome Foursome" defensive line.  In 1968, he played himself in the movie Paper Lion, which kick-started his acting career.  After Karras was released by the Lions in 1971, he turned to acting full-time. 

Among Karras' most memorable roles are Mongo, the loveable bully who punched out a horse in the 1974 Mel Brooks classic Blazing Saddles, and George, the adoptive father of Emmanuel Lewis' title character on the sitcom Webster.  His real-life wife, Susan Clark, played his wife in that series.  Karras also had a notable role in the film Victor/Victoria, playing a closeted gay bodyguard.

Karras also appeared in the movies Against All Odds and Porky's.  His TV work also included roles in M*A*S*H, Centennial, Arlis$$ and The Odd Couple.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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