Entertainment & Arts

Police Academy actor Bubba Smith dies

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionBubba Smith throws an American football as Moses Hightower in Police Academy 2

Bubba Smith, the American football star who found fame on screen playing Hightower in the Police Academy movies, has died at the age of 66.

The 6ft 7in (2m) star won the 1971 Super Bowl with the Baltimore Colts and moved into acting in the late 70s.

He played the softly-spoken Moses Hightower in six Police Academy films.

Smith was found dead at his home in Los Angeles. The cause of death has not been confirmed, but police have said it did not appear to be suspicious.

Fellow Police Academy star Steve Guttenberg paid tribute to Smith saying "his generosity was far larger than his physical stature".

He told TMZ: "Only his gift for caring about his friends and family could compare with his achievements on the football field, film and television. He also laughed like no other."

Gentle nature

Other Police Academy co-stars have also paid tribute via TMZ including Michael Winslow, who played Larvelle Jones.

He said: "I'm devastated. He was was a very good friend, we've known each other for 25 years."

GW Bailey, who played Captain Harris, added: "I am shocked and saddened to hear of Bubba's death. I am proud to say that Bubba was a dear friend and fellow Texan...[he] was one of a kind."

Hightower became a regular character in the comedy franchise, known for his gentle nature and physical strength, which saw him lifting cars or wrestling alligators in the pursuit of bad guys.

Born Charles Aaron Smith, he made his name on the field as a fearsome defensive player for Michigan State University.

He moved into the NFL with the Baltimore Colts in 1967 and played for the Oakland Raiders and the Houston Oilers, before retiring from the sport in 1976.

He began his acting career with small roles in TV shows such as Wonder Woman, Taxi and Charlie's Angels before joining the recruits in the first Police Academy movie in 1984.