×

Bernie Casey, ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ Actor and Former NFL Player, Dies at 78

Bernie Casey, the former NFL star known for his work in the films “Boxcar Bertha” and “Revenge of the Nerds,” died on Tuesday in Los Angeles after a brief illness, Variety has confirmed. He was 78.

Casey made his film debut in the 1969 sequel “Guns of the Magnificent Seven.” He then acted alongside fellow former NFL star Jim Brown in the crime dramas “…tick…tick…tick…” and “Black Gunn.” He played the title role in the 1972 science fiction TV film “Gargoyles,” and then portrayed Tamara Dobson’s love interest in 1973’s “Cleopatra Jones.”

Casey wrote, directed, produced, and starred in “The Dinner,” a 1997 film centering on three black men who discuss slavery, black self-loathing, and homophobia. That same year, he loosely portrayed a version George Jackson, a member of the Black Panther Party who was killed, in the drama “Brothers.”

In Martin Scorsese’s “Boxcar Bertha,” he played a heroic former slave and train robber, and then a recurring character in Bond films, CIA agent Felix Leiter. In 1981, he portrayed a detective opposite another former NFL player-turned-actor, Burt Reynolds, in “Sharky’s Machine,” which was directed by Reynolds. The two worked together a few years later on “Rent-a-Cop.”

His prolific acting career also included films such as “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Black Chariot,” “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” “In the Mouth of Madness,” “The Glass Shield,” “Mr. Hyde,” “Once Upon a Time … When We Were Colored,” and “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.” On television, he was in “Roots: The Next Generations,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and “Bay City Blues.”

Casey was born in Wyco, W.Va., and raised in Columbus, Ohio, before attending Bowling Green State University on a football scholarship. There, in addition to his football successes, he was a record-breaking track and field athlete, and competed in the 1960 U.S. Olympic trials.

He was picked ninth overall in the NFL draft, and spent six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers before going to the Rams for two years. He retired at age 30 and finished his professional career with 359 catches for 5,444 yards and 40 touchdowns.

After leaving the NFL, he dabbled in acting, painting, and poetry. Casey received an honorary doctorate degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design. He advocated for arts education and served as chairman of the board at the Georgia school. Casey was both a published poet and painter, whose work appeared in galleries across the globe.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing

    Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing From Usher, Adam Lambert

    A Beverly Hills real estate agent has been arrested on charges of stealing from the homes of celebrities, including Usher, Adam Lambert and “Real Housewives” star Dorit Kemsley. Jason Emil Yaselli, 32, is accused of encouraging an accomplice, Benjamin Ackerman, to enter homes during open houses in order to steal from them. Ackerman allegedly sold [...]

  • Pod Save America Hosts on Trump

    'Pod Save America' Hosts on Trump, the Democratic Primary and What's Wrong With Cable News

    Like many Democrats, Tanya Somanader was blindsided by the 2016 presidential election. A veteran of the Obama White House and a former speechwriter and digital specialist for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Somanader was gearing up for a Hillary Clinton administration. Instead, she had to grapple with the reality of a Donald Trump presidency. “A lot [...]

  • Ann Sarnoff Warner Bros

    Ann Sarnoff Formally Takes Reins of Warner Bros. as CEO

    The Ann Sarnoff era at Warner Bros. has begun. Sarnoff formally took the reins as Warner Bros. chair-CEO on Thursday, two months after she was appointed to the post. Sarnoff told employees in a memo that she has been impressed by the company’s track record during the past year amid a period of upheaval for [...]

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein (L)

    Harvey Weinstein to Be Arraigned on New Indictment

    Harvey Weinstein is set to appear in court on Monday for an arraignment on a new indictment, the Manhattan D.A.’s office said Thursday. Prosecutors announced last week that they would seek a fresh indictment, which would allow actress Annabella Sciorra to testify at Weinstein’s trial. The move came after Justice James Burke ruled on Aug. [...]

  • AI Technology David Beckham

    How AI Tech Is Changing Dubbing, Making Stars Like David Beckham Multilingual

    David Beckham does not speak Arabic, Hindi or Mandarin. But when the soccer legend starred in a PSA for malaria awareness this spring, he effortlessly switched among these and six other languages, thanks to cutting-edge technology that could soon change how Hollywood localizes its movies and TV shows. The PSA in question was produced with technology [...]

  • Eminem Publisher Sues Spotify, Claiming Copyright

    Eminem Publisher Sues Spotify, Claiming Massive Copyright Infringement

    Eight Mile Style, a publishing company that holds administration rights to Eminem’s early catalog, filed a major copyright infringement lawsuit against Spotify late Thursday, claiming that the streaming giant has no license to host about 250 of Eminem’s songs, while also taking aim at the Music Modernization Act, the federal law enacted last year to [...]

  • iQIYI headquarters building in Beijing

    China’s iQIYI in Talks for Indonesia Expansion

    Chinese streaming firm iQIYI is in negotiations to expand further into Southeast Asia through a venture with Indonesia’s Media Nusantara Citra. iQIYI announced its first step outside Chinese-majority territories in June, when it revealed a linkup in Malaysia with pay-TV leader Astro. It also operates in Taiwan. In April, the company said that it planned [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content