Which former athlete made the most successful transition into pop culture? My husband says former Rams defensive lineman Merlin Olsen (“Little House On The Prairie,” etc.), but I vote for Chuck Connors, who played pro basketball and baseball before turning to acting (“The Rifleman,” etc.). What do you think?
— Rhona Crixdale, The Bronx, N.Y.
Interesting question, Rhona. No doubt that many athletes crave attention after their playing days and make the transition into entertainment or other facets of pop culture. The two you mention are prime examples. But if you define the term “athlete” broadly, then there’s an obvious answer: Arnold Schwarzenegger. The four-time Mr. Universe and International Powerlifting Champion from Austria went on to become the greatest action hero of his — or possibly any — generation before becoming governor of the most powerful state in the union. Schwarzenegger’s signature role as the Terminator produced a quote — “I’ll be back” — that has embedded itself in popular culture.