By Shiryn Ghermezian, EnStarz | Oct 10, 2012 11:40 PM EDT
Former NFL defensive athlete and "Blazing Saddles" actor Alex Karras died on Wednesday, Oct. 10, after a long battle in recent years with dementia, heart disease, cancer and a recent kidney failure. He was 77.
"He suffered from dementia for the last decade of his life," Craig Mitnick, his attorney, 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."
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Karras was one of the many former NFL players to sue the league for treatment from the head injuries he obtained while on the football field.
His wife Susan previously stated to Fox News that her husband was no longer able to drive or recall some of his favorite recipes.
"This physical beating that he took as a football player has impacted his life, and therefore it has impacted his family life. He is interested in making the game of football safer and hoping that other families of retired players will have a healthier and happier retirement," she said.
Karras was a Detriot Lions defensive lineman but many fans remember him for his acting, with roles in sitcoms and movies alike.
Following his retirement from football in 1970 at the age of 35, he played Mongo in the 1974 Mel Brooks movie "Blazing Saddles" and family man George Papadapolis on the ABC series "Webster." His wife Susan also played his wife on "Webster."
Karras also starred in the film adaptation of "Paper Lions," among many of his other works, and in "Saddles," he created the famous line, " "Don't know..." (looking straight into the camera)...Mongo only pawn in game of life."
Aside from "Webster," Karras also starred in a number of other television series', according to IMDb. The same year of "Blazing Saddles," he starred in "M*A*S*H" and he first appeared on television in 1969, a year before he officially retired from football, in the show "Daniel Boone."
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