Once upon a time, in the land of Oz, four characters set out on a strange and difficult journey. Each was lacking something essential in life, and each wanted to find the mighty Wizard of Oz and ask him for his help.
• Dorothy had lost her way home, and she wanted the Wizard to return her safely back to her Aunt and Uncle’s farm. “There’s no place like home,” she said.
• The Tin Woodman was stiff with rust, and he wanted the Wizard to give him a warm, loving heart beating in his chest. “No one can love who has no heart,” he sighed.
• The Scarecrow’s head was stuffed with straw, and he wanted the Wizard to give him a brain. “Brains are the only things worth having in this world,” he said.
• The Lion had lost his nerve, and he wanted the Wizard to give him back his courage. “As long as I know myself to be a coward I shall be unhappy,” he said.
He was big man.
He was courageous.
He was fun loving.
He was an All-Pro Defensive Tackle.
He once was a Lion too. A Detroit Lion.
Alexander George “Alex” Karras, Performer Artisan, (July 15, 1935 – October 10, 2012), nicknamed “The Mad Duck”, 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. He was a color commentator for the ABC network’s Monday Night Football. He served three years in that role until leaving after the 1976 NFL season. As an actor, Karras is noted for his role as the thuggish Mongo in the 1974 comedy film Blazing Saddles, and for starring in the ABC sitcom Webster (1983–87) alongside his wife Susan Clark, as the title character’s adoptive father. [Wikipedia, revised]
Indeed it was primarily the sage father figure he portrayed in “Webster,” as George Papadapolis, an adoptive father, for which Karras was known to many fans who have watched the sitcom in re-runs. Karras’ wife on the show, the actress Susan Clark, was also his real-life wife, and she has noted in recent years that her husband was far closer to the fictional figure than to the nasty and sometimes reviled defensive tackle he was in the NFL for a dozen seasons.
Performers have the special ability, even among the Artisans, to delight those around them with their warmth, their good humor, and with their often extraordinary skills in music, comedy, and drama. Whether on the job, with friends, or with their families, Performers are exciting and full of fun, and their great social interest lies in stimulating those around them to take a break from work and worry, to lighten up and enjoy life. [Please Understand Me II]
“He was a giant of a man with a big heart, a great sense of humor, and very grounded outlook on life,” recalled actor Emmanuel Lewis, who played the role of Karras’ munchkin-sized adoptive son, Webster, on the 1980s television sitcom of the same name. “He might have towered over you . . . but he had a knack of being able get down to your level without being small about it.”
Really more of a Gentle Lion, courageous nonetheless.
It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more ‘manhood’ to abide by thought-out principles rather than blind reflex. Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles and an immature mind. — Alex Karras