Bernard Terry “Bernie” Casey was born June 8th 1939 in Wyco, West Virginia, the son of Flossie (Coleman) and Frank Leslie Casey. He graduated from East High School in Columbus, Ohio. Whilst at Bowling Green State University, Casey was a record-breaking track and field athlete. As one of the nation’s best high-hurdlers, Casey earned All-America recognition and a trip to the finals at the 1960 United States Olympic Trials. In addition to national honors, Bernie Casey won three consecutive Mid-American Conference titles in the high-hurdles, 1958–60.
Casey was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1961 as the 9th pick in the first round. He played for eight NFL seasons: six with the 49ers and two with the Los Angeles Rams.
In a piece for NFL Films, he expressed his disillusionment with the NFL and professional sports in general, feeling like his creativity and individuality were thwarted by conservative elements in the league and ownership hierarchy.
Casey began his acting career as soon popped up on the Cult Faction radar in Guns of the Magnificent Seven. From there he moved between performances on television and the big screen such as playing team captain for the Chicago Bears in the TV film Brian’s Song.
In 1979 he starred as widower Mike Harris in the television series Harris and Company, the first weekly American TV drama series centered on a black family. In 1980, he played Major Jeff Spender in the television mini-series The Martian Chronicles, based on the novel by Ray Bradbury. In 1981, he played a vice detective opposite Burt Reynolds in the feature film, Sharky’s Machine.
In 1983, he played the role of Felix Leiter in the non-Eon Productions James Bond film Never Say Never Again.
In 1984 Casey played U.N. Jefferson, the National President of the Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity in Revenge of the Nerds; he reprised the role for a number of the sequels. He also had a comedic role as Colonel Rhombus in the John Landis film Spies Like Us. Casey also appeared in the movie Hit Man.
Also, during his career he worked with such well-known directors as Martin Scorsese in his 1972 film Boxcar Bertha and appeared on such television series as The Streets of San Francisco.
In a good-natured spoof of 1970s blaxploitation flicks, he played a caricature of himself, and other football players turned actors, in Keenen Ivory Wayans’ 1988 comedic film I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.
Then in 1989 Casey played Mr. Ryan, a high school teacher in the cult-classic Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Casey appeared as a very influential prisoner with outside connections in Walter Hill’s Another 48 Hrs.. 1994 saw Casey guest-starring in a two-episode story arc in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (along with series star Avery Brooks) as the Maquis leader Lieutenant Commander Cal Hudson, and in 1995 as a guest-star on Babylon 5 as Derek Cranston. He has continued working as an actor.
In 2006, he co-starred in the film When I Find the Ocean alongside such actors as Lee Majors,then in 2007 he played Bloodhound Bill in Vegas Vampires.
Casey was also an accomplished painter whose work has been widely exhibited and a poet with several published books to his name. Sadly Casey passed away at the age of 78 years old following a short illness.