Athletes to Actor – The 10 Who Did It Best

Article by Adam Walter

There is a long history of athletes turning to acting after their playing days are over. In fact, many of them get a jump start by acting while they’re still in the midst of their careers. Most of them have been forgettable, but some athletes have gone on to become serious actors or at least leave a lasting impression upon the landscape of popular culture. This is the list of the best athletes turned actors.

10. Bob Uecker

Okay, so maybe calling Uecker an athlete is a stretch when you look at his career .200 batting average, but the man did last six seasons in Major League Baseball. He will always most famously be remembered for his hilarious announcing in the Major League movies.

9. Carl Weathers

Weathers is most widely known for portraying Apollo Creed in the Rocky Franchise. Before he became famous for fighting and training Rocky Balboa, Weathers played linebacker for two seasons at San Diego State, 7 games for the Oakland Raiders and a couple years in the CFL.

8. Jim Brown

Brown’s name is often thrown around in the lists of best athletes in history. He is the only man to average over 100 yards per game for his entire NFL career. After his playing days were over, Brown turned to acting. His most famous role was in The Dirty Dozen.

7. Merlin Olsen

Although kids from the 80’s will undoubtedly remember Olsen most from his role as Ingalls’ family friend Jonathan Garvey on “Little House on the Prairie,” he was one of the best defensive tackles in the history of football. He made the Pro Bowl the first 14 years of his 15-year NFL career, which is a Pro Bowl selection streak that is only matched by Bruce Matthews, Tony Gonzalez and Peyton Manning.

6. Johnny Weissmuller

Weissmuller won five gold medals and a bronze for swimming in the 1924 and 1928 Summer Olympics. He then went on to portray Tarzan in 11 films, starting in 1932. Following that, Weissmuller starred in 13 movies as a famous Asian hunter called Jungle Jim.


5. Alex Karras

Karras was a star offensive lineman for the Detroit Lions over 12 seasons in the NFL. He went on to star in many TV shows and movies, most famously as Mongo in Blazing Saddles and George Papadopoulos on “Webster”.

4. Chuck Norris

Most recognizable by Millennials for the Internet memes referencing his legendary feats, Norris was an action star who is most famously known onscreen for fighting Bruce Lee in Way of the Dragon and portraying the title character in “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

3. Burt Reynolds

Reynolds was a star fullback coming out of high school, but he hurt his knee at Florida State in his sophomore year and never fully recovered. He turned to acting and became one of the biggest movie stars of the 1980s in films like Deliverance, Smokey and the Bandit and The Longest Yard.

2. Bruce Lee

The most famous kung fu movie star ever is also considered by many to be the best martial artist of all time. His most famous films were The Big Boss, Way of the Dragon and Enter the Dragon.

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger

A star so big he is instantly recognizable from his first name alone, Arnold is one of the biggest box-office stars in Hollywood history. In films such as Predator, Kindergarten Cop and The Terminator franchise, Schwarzenegger delighted audiences. Before he became an action hero, Schwarzenegger initially gained fame as one of the most successful bodybuilders ever. He won the title of Mr. Olympia seven times.

Media Mikes is proud to welcome Adam Walter. Adam is recently out of college and makes his home in New York City. His love of sports led to he and some friends starting an Internet blog. You can read more of his work at www.usssportsmachine.com. Welcome aboard!

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