PASSINGS: Dick Hoerner, John A. Ferraro

Dick Hoerner

Fullback was part of L.A. Rams’ ‘Bull Elephant’ backfield

Dick Hoerner, 88, a Los Angeles Rams fullback who was a member of the 1951 NFL Championship team, died Saturday at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton after a stroke, said his wife, Kathy.

Hoerner, 6 feet 4 and 220 pounds, played for the Rams from 1947 to 1951 and was part of the team’s famous “Bull Elephant” backfield that also featured “Deacon” Dan Towler and Paul “Tank” Younger. He rushed for 569 yards and six touchdowns in 1951 and scored another as a pass receiver. Hoerner, who also played linebacker, scored a touchdown in the championship game, a 24-17 victory over the Cleveland Browns at the L.A. Coliseum.


In 1950, Hoerner rushed for 10 touchdowns and caught a pass for another score. He rushed for a career-high 582 yards in 1949, which led all NFL fullbacks that season.

He was born Lester Junior Hoerner on July 25, 1922, in Dubuque, Iowa. He was a two-time All-American at the University of Iowa, in 1942 and again in 1946, after spending three years in the Army. Hoerner was selected by the then-Cleveland Rams in the 17th round of the 1945 draft.

He finished his NFL career in 1952 with the Dallas Texans.

John A. Ferraro

Actor, director and USC teacher

John A. Ferraro, 64, an actor, director and teacher with several stage and television credits, died Dec. 7 of colon cancer at USC University Hospital, said his wife, Karen Emonts.

Ferraro’s television directing credits included the Comedy Central series “The Higgins Boys and Gruber,” the WB series “Smart Guy” and “Reno: In Rage and Rehab,” an off-Broadway production that aired on HBO.

He also directed episodes of “Sesame Street” and another PBS children’s show, “Shining Time Station.”

Ferraro directed “Crazy He Calls Me” on Broadway in 1992 and was an associate director in the early 1980s production of “The Pirates of Penzance.” He later directed U.S. and Australian tours of the musical and such off-Broadway comedies as “Saved From Obscurity” in 1988.

His Southern California stage credits included directing “Because I Said So” at the Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles and “Sus” at the Hudson Guild Theatre in Hollywood, both in 2003.

Ferraro was born April 5, 1946, in Paterson, N.J., and grew up in Wayne, N.J. He graduated from New York University with a bachelor of fine arts degree and joined the theatrical group the Manhattan Project. Ferraro acted in such productions as “Alice in Wonderland” and “Our Late Night” and performed at the New York Shakespeare Festival.

He had taught at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts since 2003.

Times staff reports