LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Former NFL star and TV dad Alex Karras died Wednesday at his Los Angeles home at age 77.
Karras, a defense lineman who played for the Detroit Lions his entire NFL career, had been in declining health recently. Karras had suffered from heart disease, stomach cancer and dementia. Ultimately, he died from kidney failure.
After retiring as an athlete, Karras worked as a commentator on Monday Night Football and as an actor. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Karras starred in the 1974 comedy “Blazing Saddles” and most memorably played the adoptive father of the title character in the TV show “Webster.”
In April, Karras joined more than 2,000 former football players in a class-action lawsuit against the National Football League. The suit claims the league misled players regarding the risks associated with concussion-related injuries — a charge the league denies.
Karras “sustained repetitive traumatic impacts to his head and/or concussions on multiple occasions” during his career, and “suffers from various neurological conditions and symptoms related to the multiple head traumas,” according to an excerpt from the lawsuit.
Karras’ wife, “Webster” co-star Susan Clark, disclosed in April that he was suffering from dementia. Karras reportedly was diagnosed with kidney failure last week and was given just a few days to live.
Karras was surrounded by family at the time of his death.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.
(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)