I just learned that football player and actor Alex Karras has passed on. I mainly know Karras as George, the adoptive father of Webster Long in the 1980’s sitcom, Webster. I used to watch this show on Friday nights, and also when it was in syndication.
I always liked Karras’ character. He was like a teddy bear. He also came across as likeable and laid-back. I particularly remember two episodes. The first one was when Webster was angry at God because he thought that God had killed his mother and father, and so Katherine (Webster’s adoptive mother) was playing devil’s advocate at the church that Webster and his Uncle Philip attended. Essentially, she would question God, and George and Webster’s Uncle Philip would defend him. Katherine was asking why God allowed Webster to be sick one time, and George responded that there were many days of the year when Webster was not sick. George was giving a long, drawn-out answer, with a lot of numbers, and Uncle Philip finally said, “We get the point, George.” Come to think of it, watching this episode this may have been my first exposure to the problem of evil and theodicy.
The other episode that I remember was when George’s Greek father was a janitor at Webster’s school and was singing to his broom, prompting Webster’s friends to make fun of him. When Webster, George, and George’s dad were talking about Webster being embarrassed by his grandfather, Webster brought up the broom, and George said, “Oh, come on, Dad, not the broom!” I was used to shows in which adults were right and kids were wrong (at least that’s how I remember the shows, even if they were more complex than that), but, here, George, an adult, was identifying with Webster. But Webster still rebukes his friends at the end for making fun of his grandfather!
R.I.P., Alex Karras.