Jim Brown, NFL great and ‘Dirty Dozen’ actor, dead at 87

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Jim Brown, one of the most famous pro football players to successfully tackle Hollywood, has died, according to an Instagram post from his wife, Monique.

Brown was 87.

“He passed away peacefully at our LA home,” she noted, adding, “To the world he was an actor, an activist, and a football star. To our family he was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. Our hearts are broken.”

After a successful career as a college athlete who played football, lacrosse and ran track, Brown was drafted for the NFL as a fullback for the Cleveland Browns in 1957. He played for the team until 1965, setting touchdown and rushing records, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.

However, even before he stopped playing, he started acting, making his feature film debut in the 1964 Western Rio Conchos. He soon began amassing dozens of big-screen credits, including 1967’s ensemble World War II movie The Dirty Dozen.

Brown appeared in many famous “blaxploitation” action movies in the ’70s, including Slaughter and Three The Hard Way, and worked through the ’80s with guest roles on TV and in the movies.

He played a flamethrower-wielding pro “Stalker” nicknamed Fireball in the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi film The Running Man and played on his past credits in Keenan Ivory Wayans‘ blaxsploitation spoof I’m Gonna Git You, Sucka, the following year. In his long acting career, Brown also appeared in movies like Tim Burton‘s Mars Attacks, He Got Game for Spike Lee and in the acclaimed football film Any Given Sunday for Oliver Stone.

The former football great was also active in the Civil Rights Movement, and over the subsequent years launched various organizations to boost Black entrepreneurship and advancement.

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