Can You Name These Famous Athletes Who Are Also Actors?

By: Robin Tyler
Image: 1996 – Warner Bros. Feature Animation

About This Quiz


Home of many talented actors and actresses who ply their trade, day in and day out to bring us the entertainment we crave on the silver screen and into our homes through television. 

Did you know, however, that many sports stars, both past and present, went into acting once their careers in their preferred sport were over? 

Some even began acting while they were still professional athletes. 

Now, when we say acting, there are often two strings to their bow. First, they appear as themselves in a movie or TV series and second, they get a bona fide acting gig, one where they actually have to play a character. 

And they certainly are a talented bunch. 

One former college football star, whose career ended prematurely, was even nominated for an Oscar.

But would you be able to identify these athletes-turned-actors by just seeing a single image? 

Sure, some are instantly recognizable, especially modern athletes, but you will have to put your brain into overdrive to identify those from Hollywood's glory days in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. 

But you got this! We have faith in you. Just take your time and go for gold... and an Oscar for that matter! 

A professional bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger won the Mr. Universe title, as well as multiple Mr. Olympia, crowns before turning to acting. He has become a massive Hollywood star, perhaps best known for the Terminator franchise.

The greatest martial artist of all time, Bruce Lee made a number of movies, most of which were filmed in Hong Kong.

One of wrestling's breakout stars, John Cena has had some success in Hollywood and starred in a number of movies, including "The Marine."

Famed martial artist Chuck Norris made the transition into movies easily. His roles in "MIssing in Action," "Delta Force" and host of other '80s action films, made him a household name. He also starred in the long-running TV series, "Walker, Texas Ranger."

Football star Fred Dryer played 16 seasons in the NFL for both the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Rams. He went on to become a successful actor and starred in TV series such as "Hunter," "Land's End" and "Cheers."

One of the true greats of the NFL, Jim Brown began his acting career in the '60s as his career drew to a close. He first played in Rio Conchos in 1964 with many more roles following during the next decades.

A former NFL player, Howie Long has acted in a number of movies, including "Broken Arrow" and "3000 Miles to Graceland."

Former professional American football player entered the world of acting after his career. He appeared in a number of movies as well as TV series. including "M*A*S*H" and "From Dusk Till Dawn."

The original Hulk, Lou Ferrigno was a bodybuilder whose physique saw him cast as the green monster in 1977. He has had other minor roles, often appearing as himself in both TV and movies.

'Rowdy' Roddy Piper was a first and foremost a professional wrestler but did appear in a number of TV series' and movies from the 1980s onwards, including "Zorro," "Silk Stalkings" and "They Live."

It seems like former NFL players love going into the acting world and Terry Bradshaw is no different. Often appearing as himself in a long line of TV shows, Bradshaw has also acted in a number of movies, including "Cannonball Run" and "Failure to Launch."

A star of TV series such as "Taxi" and "Who's the Boss," Tony Danza started as a boxer. His record? 12 fights, nine wins (all by knock-out), three losses.

Most well known for playing Moses Hightower in the Police Academy franchise, Bubba Smith played football professionally for the Baltimore Colts, the Houston Oilers and the Oakland Raiders before turning to acting.

One of the greatest basketball players ever, Michael Jordan starred in the Disney movie, "Space Jam."

Andre the Giant (real name André René Roussimoff) was a professional wrestler working mostly in the World Wrestling Federation stable. He appeared in a number of movies during his lifetime, including "The Princess Bride" and "Conan the Destroyer."

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is another professional wrestler who entered the world of acting. Unlike many, however, he has gone on to become a top star in Hollywood with lead roles in a number of blockbusters.

A former American football player, Alex Karras is perhaps best known for his appearance in "Webster" where he played George Papadapolis. Karras had many acting roles before this, however, in both TV and film.

Rosey Grier played in the NFL for the New York Giants and the LA Rams over a period of 11 years. After a minor role in "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," while still playing, Grier then acted in many TV series after he retired and most notably in the '70s.

After leaving the NFL in 1977, Ed Marinaro became an actor, starring in the TV sitcom, "Laverne and Shirley" and the cop drama, "Hill Street Blues" amongst others.

Esther Williams established a successful career as a swimmer in the 1930s and entered the world of acting in the 1940s where she appeared in movies such as "Fiesta" and "Bathing Beauty." She retired from acting in the 1960s.

An Olympic athlete, Jim Thorpe won two gold medals in the 1912 Stockholm games in the decathlon and pentathlon. He also played baseball, football, and basketball. In later life, he appeared in a number of Hollywood movies. A native American, he was often type cast in roles.

Professional wrestler and darling of the Worldwide Wrestling Federation, Hulk Hogan has appeared in a number of movies and TV shows over the course of his career, including "Rocky III," "Mr. Nanny" and "Baywatch."

The enigmatic Dennis Rodman played in the NBA for the Pistons, Spurs, Bulls and Lakers. After basketball, Rodman had a short-lived wrestling career. He has appeared in a number of TV shows as himself but also as a bona fide actor. These include "Third Rock From The Sun," "Soldier of Fortune" and "Rally On."

An American Olympic swimming star, Johnny Weissmuller went on to become and actor and starred as Tarzan in the 1930's.

A former NFL running back, OJ Simpson starred in a number of movies when his career came to an end, including the Naked Gun franchise. Simpson was acquitted of the murder of his wife, Nicole Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, in 1995 but was found guilty in a wrongful death civil trial and had to pay $33 million in compensation. Simpson served nine years in prison from 2008 for armed robbery as well as other charges.

Bob Uecker is instantly recognizable from his roles in the TV sitcom, "Mr. Belvedere," as well as the movie, "Major League." Uecker was a former Major League Baseball player.

Well known for playing Apollo Creed in the Rocky franchise, Carl Weathers had earlier played in the NFL for the Oakland Raiders and BC Lions.

Professional skateboarder Jason Lee's best acting role is that of Earl Hickey in the TV series, "My Name Is Earl." He has also starred in a number of movies. including "Mallrats," "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" and "Clerks II."

Chuck Connors played both professional baseball and basketball. After his career ended, Connors became an actor and starred in many TV shows and series, including "The Rifleman."

A Former French and Manchester United footballer, Eric Cantona began acting after he retired. He has appeared in a number of movies and TV shows, mostly in France.

A hard tackling defender, Vinnie Jones played for Wimbledon in the English First Division. On his retirement, he went into the world of acting, usually playing tough guys. He has starred in a number of movies, including "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" directed by Guy Ritchie.

Basketball superstar Shaquille O'Neal has dabbled in acting from time to time and starred in "Blue Chips" and "Kazaam" amongst other roles.

The star of the Transporter franchise, Jason Statham is a former diver who formed part of the U.K.'s diving team in the 1990 Commonwealth Games.

There is no need to introduce Burt Reynolds as an actor but did you know that before he went into acting he was an excellent American football player at college level. Injuries forced him to give up the game, however.

At over 7 feet tall, Wilt 'The Stilt' Chamberlain was impossible to miss. His NBA career spanned 14 years and when it was over, he went into coaching for a few seasons. Chamberlain appeared in one major role, that of Bombaata in "Conan the Destroyer."

A world surf champion on 11 occasions, Kelly Slater has appeared in many movies and even lent his voice talents to the animation, "Surf's Up."

Now a very popular actor, Terry Crews is a former NFL player with stints with the Rams, Redskins, and Eagles. Crews has appeared in The Expendables franchise and is a regular on the popular TV series, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."

Steve Garvey played in Major League Baseball series for 18 years. When his career ended, Garvey landed a few acting gigs over the years including the movie, "The Sandlot 2."

Joe Namath, or 'Broadway Joe' as he was fondly called, played in the NFL from 1965 to 1977, mostly for the New York Jets. He hosted "The Joe Namath Show" in 1969 and built his acting career on stage and the silver screen after his football career came to an end.

With a career spanning close to 20 years, its safe to say that Ray Allen could play basketball. His skills landed him a role in the 1998 basketball movie, "He Got Game," where he received praise for his performance. Allen later acted in the 2001 movie, "Harvard Man."

A linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks, Brian Bosworth's career spanned three seasons in the late 1980s. After he was forced to retire due to injury, 'The Boz' as he was known, tried his hand at acting and landed a number of roles in the 1990's and beyond.

An NFL star, Lawrence Taylor played for the New York Giants for 11 years before retiring in 1993. After this, he appeared as himself in a number of movies, such as "The Waterboy," while also securing an acting role in the football movie, "On Any Given Sunday."

Another NBA player to enter the world of acting, Rick Fox has appeared in both movies ("He Got Game") and TV series ("Shameless," "Oz").

One of the NBA's biggest stars, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played for 20 years in the top flight. He made his film debut while still playing, in the 1972 Bruce Lee movie, "Game Of Death." He often appeared in sitcoms, playing himself but had original roles in a number of other productions.

Boxer 'Tex' Cobb appeared in a number of Hollywood movies, including "The Golden Child" and "Raising Arizona."

An Olympian swimmer who won a bronze and gold medal in two separate games, Buster Crabbe began his acting career as Tarzan in 1933. He starred in more than 100 movies.

'Rocket' Roger Clemens played for an incredible 24 seasons in MLB. He has appeared in numerous TV shows, often playing himself, and had a small role in the movie, "Kingpin."

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