Bubba Smith Dies
updated 08/04/2011 AT 08:30 AM EDT
•originally published 08/04/2011 AT 07:00 AM EDT
The cause of death was not immediately determined, but the Los Angeles County coroner's office said in a statement, "There is no indication of anything other than natural death."
"I had no idea that he was even ill or that anything could be wrong," former Michigan State teammate Gene Washington tells the Detroit Free Press. "It's incredibly sad, because Bubba was such a larger-than-life figure. Nothing surprised you with Bubba."
The 6'7" (some accounts added an inch to that), 300-lb. Texas native was born Charles Aaron Smith and 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.
His eventually prolific acting career began with small roles on such TV shows as Wonder Woman, Taxi and Charlie's Angels before he became the florist-turned-cop in the first Police Academy installment in 1984.
He also served as the Miller Lite beer commercial pitchman in the '70s and the '80s, starring in the famous "Tastes great, less filling" campaign. " He later quit the lucrative job because, as a teetotaler, he said he didn't wish to contribute to drinking.
Information on Smith's survivors was not available.
His brother Tody, who played for the Dallas Cowboys, the Oilers and the Buffalo Bills (and later became Bubba's agent), died in 1999, age 50, reports the Los Angeles Times.