Bubba Smith, probably best known as Hightower in the Police Academy movies, died yesterday in his home at the age of 66. No cause of death has yet been named, but the results of his autopsy should be known late today or tomorrow. I think I speak for everyone when I say that this is a tragedy, and if God was fair, it would’ve been that son of a bitch Guttenberg.
Smith was found dead at his Baldwin Hills home. No cause of death has been determined and there were no initial indications of foul play. Smith was 66.
A caretaker found Smith dead at his home Wednesday afternoon, police said.
A 6-foot-7, 280-pound defensive end, Smith was the No. 1 NFL draft pick from Michigan State University when he joined the Baltimore Colts in 1967.
He played five seasons for the Colts, which included their upset loss to the New York Jets in Super Bowl III and a victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V. He spent two seasons with the Oakland Raiders and two more with the Houston Oilers before a knee injury ended his career in 1976.
After football, Smith was recruited to the ranks of former professional athletes who appeared as themselves in commercials for Miller Lite beer. He and fellow NFL veteran Dick Butkus were cast as inept golfers and polo players in the TV spots. Smith also was featured solo in one commercial extolling the virtues of the beer, beaming into the camera, “I also love the easy-opening cans,” while ripping off the top of the can.
Despite a lucrative contract and widespread popularity, Smith, who didn’t drink, walked away from the job out of concerns that the spots were contributing to alcohol consumption.
He turned to acting in movies and TV, playing Moses Hightower in six “Police Academy” movies. He also appeared in a number of TV series, including “Half-Nelson,” “Blue Thunder” and “Good Times.”
His brother Tody, a star at USC and in the NFL, later became Bubba’s agent. He died at 50 in 1999. [LATimes]
I’ll always remember Bubba Smith as the good former-football-player-turned-actor-in-a-police-procedural-parody movie, the one who didn’t kill people.