Remembering Mike Henry

This week, I am remembering Trojans who died in 2021.

It’s worth noting that that first two (Steve Riley, Mike Henry) did not receive any mention from USC upon their deaths.

Mike Henry was attending Bell High School when he was noticed by another Trojan great (John Ferraro), who arranged for him to get a tryout at USC.

He was co-captain of the 1957 USC football team, and died on Jan. 8. He was 84.

Henry died from chronic traumatic encephalopathy and Parkinson’s disease, according to published reports.

Here is Mike Henry blocking a punt that C.R. Roberts recovered and scored a TD in USC’s 20-7 victory over Cal in 1956.

Henry also played in the NFL from 1959-64 with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams.

Henry was USC’s lineman of the year in 1957, with 38 tackles (19 solo) after he played at Bell.

But he was better known as an actor, especially when he played Tarzan in Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966), Tarzan and the Great River (1967) and Tarzan and the Jungle Boy (1968).

He also enjoyed fame for his role playing Junior, the son of Jackie Gleason’s Sheriff Buford T. Justice, in Smokey and the Bandit (1977).

My USC story involving Henry was that everyone was afraid to play against him in the 1961 spring football game when he played for the alumni team.

Hal Bedsole, who is in the College Football Hall of Fame, told me he played quarterback for one play and got crunched by Marlin McKeever and Henry. Two weeks later, he was in severe pain and an X-ray revealed he had three holes in his stomach. He underwent surgery that night.

Mike Henry with Farrah Fawcett

20 thoughts on “Remembering Mike Henry

    1. Several great lines between Jackie Gleason and Mike Henry in “Smokey and the Bandit”. Before my time, but Gleason was a huge TV star and household name.


      1. In an interview Jackie Gleason said something I never forgot– If you aren’t riveting then you have no business being on stage.

        I guess that is why I never made it

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Good stuff Scott Wolf. Mike Henry was a legend as Tarzan, and a great football player also.

    Keep up the good work! USC does a poor job these days keeping in touch, and providing updates on some of the great players of the past.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Scott Wolf! Great job on remember those great Trojans players of the past. Mike Henry was a legend on the screen, football field, and with many women in Hollywood.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Funny that Scott –who’s been often attacked on this site by USC Athletic Department trolls— is the only guy who remembers these Trojan greats…
      #RestInPeace, MikeHenry

      Liked by 3 people

  3. If anyone has the time please watch the video replays of the 1979 (USC vs. Michigan), and 1980 (USC vs. Ohio State). Both games were tough battles in the trenches, and of course Charles White put on quite a show in the 1980 game.

    Two guys stand out on USC defensive line who were tough as nails.

    1) Myron Lapka- Great player played a short time in the NFL with the NY Giants and Rams. I heard he became a Hollywood stuntman but rarely do you hear much about him. The guy was not heavily recruited but wow did he develop under the coaching of Marvelous Marv Goux.
    2) The late Rich Dimler- tremendous nose tackle from Bayonne, NJ.

    USC need to get back to tough guys on the defensive line. My goodness our star “softy” Drake Jackson would have gotten blown off the field in both these games all the way from Pasadena to Bakersfield.

    I should also mention how important the blocking from the USC fullbacks were in both games- Big shout out to fullback Lynn Cain, and Marcus Allen.

    USC needs to get away from this finesse stuff, and win games when necessary in the trenches with physical football.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good call, tommyd.
      Muhammed Ali said it best –“You can beat most guys with speed. But sooner or later you’re gonna meet somebody who’d rather than die than lose. That’s when you have to walk into the lion’s den. If you don’t come out people will feel sorry for you. But if you don’t go in everybody’s gonna know you were a phony all along.”

      Liked by 3 people

  4. WHERE IS “OWNS” ..???……………..Perhaps, he received a booster shot last week, and still come up with a cold in San Diego while waiting in line for Holiday Bowl tickets. Please keep in mind this Holiday Bowl was the first bowl game “OWNS” would have attended in many………..many years due to poor performances by the UCLA football program.

    Please get well soon “OWNS”, and I hope you get a refund on your Holiday Bowl tickets. Please don’t renew your season tickets I hear many of the Bruin players are either transferring, or heading to the NFL due to the fact Lincoln Riley is now in town, and he “hates” powder blue.


  5. Typical of the dimwits at USC. Where’s the Sports information Dept?
    Top to Bottom, USC has zero knowledge of its great athletic heritage.
    If you know where you’ve been, how can you get back to Greatness!!


  6. hi football fans, college footballs state is just horrible plenty of really lousey teams! michigan in play off demostrates this 2 games and both lousey ! regards, E


  7. hello football fans, ok state with the wig man gundy he needs a better wig aaahhhhh? and nd 68 passes the other 50 passes its sand lot sloppy football!!! utah and ohio state whores 48- 45 tab football sloppy as heck and boring !!!! regards, E


  8. hi football fans, coach slaughters the lions as penny gives the running game some lfe!great guy carroll lets the pee wee brown uncovered so he can catch a td pass !!! throw the little dog a bone!!! also on lions one yard as game ends holding back scoring another td ????/ Regards, E


  9. Scott, thank you for taking the time to write this small article giving Mikes memory the moment it deserves. Mike is my uncle and I never understood why the University didn’t say a word about him. Personally I can tell you he was the gentlest of giants, a humble man who loved his wife, daughter and the lord. He had a quick wit and a wonderful sense of humor. We had fun attending SC games together as someone always recognized him and he would always take the time to speak with everyone. He was a special person. Greatly missed.


  10. Mike Henry showed his athletic ability as TARZAN like no other on screen including
    Johnny Weissmuller, I would have loved to have seen him play college or professional football.


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