This topic isn’t really worth two posts, I know, but after some commenters mentioned other obvious examples of distinguished athletes turned actors the Rant Sports incompetent post ignored, I did some additional research myself.
The first thing I discovered was that Renae Juska’s list was about 90% lifted from other similar web lists that had appeared on various sites over the past three years. These lists were almost as incompetent as hers, though one of them included Johnny Weismuller, and another included Esther Williams. For the most part, however, all included the same basic group of athlete-actors, clearly serving as the basis for the next blogger looking for a cheap post.
This is how bad or misleading information gets stuck in the public mind and discourse, and the process occurs regarding topics and issues that matter, not just gratuitous lists.. This is why politicians still talk about women only earning 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man, and how 50% of marriages end in divorce. This how rumors and mistaken beliefs take hold and spread, changing the results of elections and the course of history…lazy writers cribbing dubious facts, unsubstantiated stats and lazy compilations of data from other lazy writers. The phenomenon feeds itself. Take the current case: someone asking themselves the question, “Gee, I wonder who the most prominent actors who were also accomplished athletes are?” will google the question and check four or five sites, read virtually the same names on all of them, and think the topic has been accurately researched. That will be an illusion, and soon there will be another post, confirming the earlier ones, and further validating informational garbage.
I also checked the biographies of actors whom I knew had athletic backgrounds, and the performing credits of prominent athletes whom I knew worked in TV, stage and films. I also considered some of the candidates, omitted by Juska, that various commenters had suggested. The result is this list of 30 athlete/actors who were ignored by Juska and Rant Sports, every one of whom is beyond question more deserving of a place on an “all-time” list of “Top 25 Athletes Turned Actors” than many of the choices on the Rant Sports list, and quite a few of which—Robson, Williams, Henie, Rigby, Weismuller, Crabbe, Norris, Beradino, and others—should rank near the top.
It’s an intriguing list, and some of the names on it will surprise you–they certainly will surprise Ms. Juska, whose knowledge of sports and the performing arts is short and shallow. Very few of these names appear on any of the other lists, yet they were or all genuine actor-athletes.In some cases, the Rant Sports list created an opportunity to learn about important American cultural figures they might be ignorant about, like Weismuller, John Wayne and Steve Reeves, some of whom are American heroes whose lives should be known to everyone as part of our historical legacy, such as Paul Robeson and Canada Lee, who were also important civil rights champions. That opportunity was squandered.
I’m sure the Ethics Alarms isn’t a complete list either—it’s not intended to be— and it is not ranked. I simply offer it to show what a little thought, diligence and research can accomplish. It is also offered so the next Renae Juska, and there are a lot of them out there, conspiring to make us stupid, might stumble upon some additional names to consider, rather than to stop their inquiry with lists that suggest that the career of Bubba Smith was superior to that of Paul Robeson.
The Ethics Alarms list…
- Esther Williams: Competitive swimmer; MGM movie star (“Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” “Dangerous When Wet”)
- Sonja Henie: Olympic figure skating champion; movie star (Sun Valley Serenade”)
- Paul Robeson: Football All-American and NFL player; world-renowned singer and actor on stage and in films (“Show Boat” “Othello”))
- Canada Lee: Professional boxer; stage and film actor (“Native Son,” “Cry the Beloved Country”)
- Johnny Weismuller: Olympic swimming champion and record-holder; popular movie and TV star (“Tarzan,” “Jungle Jim”))
- Buster Crabbe: Olympic medal-winner in swimming; TV and movie star (“Tarzan,” “Flash Gordon” and “Buck Rogers”)
- Lou Costello: Boxer, acrobat and basketball player; film and TV comedian and comic actor (Abbott and Costello)
- Kirk Douglas: Professional wrestler; movie star (“Lust for Life,” “Spartacus”)
- Burt Lancaster: Circus acrobat; movie star (“Bird Man of Alcatraz,” “Elmer Gantry”)
- Michael Warren: All-American basketball star; TV and film actor (“Hill Street Blues)
- Steve Reeves: Bodybuilding champion; movie star (“Hercules,” “Hercules Unchained”)
- O. J. Simpson: Heisman Trophy winner and NFL star; actor (“The Naked Gun,” “The Towering Inferno”)
- John Wayne: USC football player; movie star (“The Searchers,” “Red River”)
- John Berardino: Major league baseball player; soap opera star (“General Hospital”)
- Strother Martin: Competitive swimmer and diver; classic character actor ( “Cool Hand Luke,” “True Grit”)
- Kurt Russell: Minor league baseball player; child star and adult movie star (“Tombstone,” “Breakdown”)
- Alexander Gudonov: Professional ballet star; movie actor (“Witness,” “Die Hard”)
- Tony Danza: Professional boxer; TV star (“Who’s the Boss?”, “Taxi”)
- Jesse Ventura: Pro wrestler; movie actor (“Predator,’” “The Running Man”)
- Cathy Rigby: Olympic gymnast; musical comedy star (“Peter Pan,” “The Wizard of Oz”)
- Max Baer, Sr.: Heavyweight boxing champ; TV and movie actor (“Requiem for a Heavyweight,” “The Harder They Fall”)
- Chuck Norris: Martial arts champion; TV and movie star (“Way of the Dragon,” “Walker, Texas Ranger”)
- Steven Seagal: Martial arts champion; TV and movie star (“Under Seige,” “Executive Decision”)
- Roosevelt Greer: NFL star; TV actor (“Movin’ On,” “Daniel Boone”)
- Sean Connery: Competitive bodybuilder; Academy award winning movie star (“The Untouchables,” James Bond)
- Ed O’Neill: College football star; TV and movie actor (“Modern Family,” “Married With Children”)
- Mikhail Baryshnikov: Ballet icon; Academy Award-nominated actor (“Turning Point,” “White Nights”)
- Cynthia Rothrock: Martial arts champion; martial arts movie star (“Above the Law,” “China O’Brien”)
- Ben Johnson: Rodeo star and champion; Academy Award-winniing movie actor (“The Last Picture Show,” “Shane”)
- Dolph Lundgren: Martial arts champion; movie actor (“Rocky IV,” “The Expendables”)
Graphics: Brian’s Drive-In