As former Detroit Lions defenseman and "Webster" actor Alex Karras has been given just a few more days to live due to kidney failure, fans of the one-time NFL great are reflecting back on the success that he’s had in both his professional and personal life.
Just eight years after his last NFL season with the Lions, Karras, 44 at the time, took to Hollywood in effort keep his name relevant in the public eye.
It was there that he met he met a 36-year-old actress named Susan Clark. Karras and Clark became acquainted with one another on the set of the 1975 TV movie “Babe.” Clark played Babe Didrikson, the famous athlete who died of cancer, while Alex played her husband, George Zaharias.
The film went on to win Clark an Emmy and also an eventual husband in Karras. "We were at our peak," she told People magazine. "Doing what we wanted to do—well. We had a terrific high of confidence."
Together, the two formed a film production company where Clark acted as creative consultant and Karras negotiated the contracts. In addition to their business partnership, the two would share the joy of producing life in their first and only child together -- Katie.
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In an interview with People magazine, Clark recalls how she met the love of her life. "People told me he was a sports superstar and one of the funniest men on TV," she told the magazine. "Then I met this large, rather shy man. He had a gaggle of big-bosomed stewardesses and very loud, small Greeks and Italians who trailed him like ducklings. There was no way I was going to get involved with a man who was in the middle of a divorce and had five children!"
Clark went on to tell the magazine that "Alex didn't come on like a macho Hollywood fantasy. I'd had the playboys where you rush to the bathroom in the morning to get made up and swallow Listerine before he wakes up. You can't base a life on that. Alex has insight, he's sexy and intelligent, street smart. He is very moral, and his confidence is astounding to someone like me, who sometimes has lots and then none."
Clark and Karras’s most notable role together, besides husband and wife, was from 1983-1987 when they starred alongside each other in the ABC sitcom “Webster.” The two played a married couple who parented an adopted black boy.
Now 77, Karras has been hospitalized due to kidney failure – a condition doctors say has left the former Detroit Lions defensive tackle with just days to live.
Clark said he suffered from dementia symptoms for more than 12 years and the period leading up to his current condition saw him unable to get behind the wheel of a car, the Washington Post reported.
“This physical beating that he took as a football player has impacted his life, and therefore it has impacted his family life,” Clark said earlier this year. “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.”
In recent years, Karras played an intricate role in the concussion lawsuit against the NFL involving more than 3,000 former players. He has had several health setbacks including cancer and dementia, presumably as a result of his time in the NFL.