Bernie Casey, a modern-day renaissance man whose résumé included acting, professional sports, and poetry, has died. According to Variety, Casey—who appeared in films like Revenge Of The Nerds, Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and I’m Gonna Git You Sucka—was 78.
Born in West Virginia, Casey was a decorated track and field star and football player in his youth, earning a scholarship to Bowling Green University and competing in the 1960 U.S. Olympic trials. After college, he entered the NFL, where he played for eight seasons: six with the San Francisco 49ers and two with the Los Angeles Rams.
After retiring from football in 1968, Casey moved into the world of acting and the arts; he published a book of paintings and poetry, Look At The People, and began his acting career with a performance in the sequel Western Guns Of The Magnificent Seven. Many of Casey’s early roles—including a few opposite fellow football player-turned-actor Jim Brown—were as part of the blaxploitation wave of the 1970s; he appeared in films ranging from Brown’s ...tick, tick, tick… and Black Gunn to serving as the male lead in Tamara Dobson’s Cleopatra Jones and starring as an anti-heroic dealer of death in George Armitage’s Hit Man. He also appeared in more mainstream fare, playing recurring Bond ally Felix Leiter in Sean Connery’s Never Say Never Again, and appearing opposite David Bowie in The Man Who Fell To Earth.
In the ’80s, Casey’s stern features and stentorian manner lent himself well to authority figures, giving memorable turns in Revenge Of The Nerds and as the teacher who hands out the fateful history assignment in Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure. He also tried his hand at TV and science fiction, appearing on both Star Trek: Deep Space Nine—as a charismatic, idealistic renegade in one of the show’s early two-parters—and its rival series Babylon Five. He continued to work as an actor through the ’90s and into the mid-2000s, before ultimately retiring. He died on Tuesday, after a brief illness.