||6 ft 2 in
|Date of Birth
|Place of Birth
||Gary, Indiana, U.S.
Alex Karras was an American football player, professional wrestler, and actor. He played football with the Detroit Lions in the National Football League from 1958–1962 and 1964–1970. As an actor, Karras is noted for his role as Mongo in the 1974 comedy film Blazing Saddles, and for starring in the ABC sitcom Webster (1983–89) alongside his wife Susan Clark, as the title character's adoptive father.
Karras was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions in 1958. He quickly became one of the dominant defensive tackles in the NFL, playing for 12 seasons (1958-1962, 1964-1970) with the same team, but missing the 1963 season for gambling activities. From 1960 to 1966, except for 1963, he played next to Roger Brown, a formidable pair of defensive tackles, until the latter was traded to the Los Angeles Rams. From 1958 to 1970, the Lions were over .500 six of the 13 years, making the playoffs only once, 1970, with a 10-4 win-loss record, Karras' final year. Aside from 1970, their best years were 1962 (11-3) and 1969 (9-4-1). In 1962, the Lion defense allowed 177 points (12.6 points/game), in 1969 188 points (13.4 points/game), and in 1970 202 points (14.4 points/game), for all three years the second-least in the NFL, thanks in large part to a tough and rugged defensive line led by Karras. Despite not allowing a touchdown in the divisional round of the 1970-71 NFL playoffs, the Lions lost to the Dallas Cowboys 5-0, his first playoff game and his final game.
In 1968, Karras figured prominently in the film adaptation of George Plimpton's nonfiction sports book Paper Lion, playing himself. Three years later, Karras was under consideration for the part of Carlo Rizzi, the duplicitous brother-in-law of the Corleone family, in The Godfather. The role was one of many acting opportunities that developed following his performance in Paper Lion and his appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Following his release by the Lions in 1971, he began acting on a full-time basis, playing a Tennessee boy turned Olympic weightlifter named Hugh Ray Feather in 1973's The 500-Pound Jerk. He played a hulking villain who menaced Clint Walker in the ABC TV film Hardcase. A minor but memorable role came one year later in the western parody Blazing Saddles (1974): the very strong and slow-witted thug Mongo, who rode into town on a huge brahman (marked with "yes" and "no" passing signals), knocked out a horse with one punch, and famously responded to a question from Sheriff Bart with, "Don't know..." (Looking straight into the camera) "...Mongo only pawn in game of life."