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Arts and Entertainment

Actor and Football Star Alex Karras Dead at 77

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Alex Karras, the NFL player turned actor has died. He was 77.

News had surfaced in recent days that Karras had only a few days to live following a brief hospitalization for kidney failure and a ongoing battle with dementia. A spokesperson for Karras and his wife, actress Susan Clark, revealed that he had also been suffering from heart disease and stomach cancer. Karras died at his Los Angeles home, surrounded by family.

Born and raised in Indiana, Karras spent his entire professional football career playing for the Detroit Lions, and was on the team from 1958-1962 and 1964-1970; he had to take 1963 off because of controversial gambling activities, and during that time wrestled professional.

Karras retired from football in 1970 and moved to acting full time. His two best-known roles were as Mongo in the comedy classic "Blazing Saddles," and as the adoptive father (along with Clark, who played his wife) in the popular 1980s sitcom "Webster."His lengthy football career, however, may have had a dire impact on his health. Earlier this year Karras was the lead plaintiff among a group of ex-NFL players who filed a lawsuit against the league over injuries stemming from concussions sustained while playing.

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"Recently, his wife said Karras' quality of life has deteriorated because of head injuries sustained during his playing career," reports the Associated Press. Over the past week, Clark had been reaching out to friends and family to let them know Karras had only a few days to live.

Karras had five children with his first wife, and a daughter with Clark.