Knox from 1956 UCLA yearbook
|Date of birth||February 14, 1935|
|Place of birth||Chicago, Illinois|
|Date of death||May 4, 1992(aged 57)|
|Place of death||San Francisco, California|
|Height||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)|
|Weight||198 lb (90 kg)|
|NFL draft||1957 / Round: 3 / Pick: 37|
High school phenom
A high school All-American at Santa Monica High School, Knox played under the tutelage of coach Jim Sutherland. He played his freshman season for Pappy Waldorf's California Golden Bears before abruptly transferring to UCLA in the fall of 1954. Knox's stepfather, Harvey Knox, was accused of interfering with the Bears' coaching staff and of making extreme monetary demands on the university. The elder Knox had also interfered with his son's high school coaches and Ronnie played for three different high school teams in three years. Harvey Knox was also accused of interfering in the business of his stepdaughter, actress Patricia Knox.
College and pro football player
Knox played one season at UCLA before being declared ineligible due to accepting "under-the-table" financing. After leaving UCLA, Knox signed a movie contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, but he would never appear in any pictures for the studio. Knox signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but would leave the team after one month to once again pursue a film career. Knox signed with the Calgary Stampeders on October 3, 1956, six days after quitting the Tiger-Cats.
Knox signed with the Chicago Bears for the 1957 season. Knox was suspended indefinitely by Bears Coach George Halas in October of that season for violations which included his stepfather's public criticism of the team and missing two practices and a quarterback tutoring session without reason.
Due to a bitter dispute with the Bears, Knox was not allowed by Halas to play for the Bears or play for any other NFL team. Instead, he signed with the Toronto Argonauts midway through 1958 CFL season with a promise by Harvey Knox to the team that he would not interfere. His most notable performance came on October 25, 1958 when, playing the Ottawa Rough Riders, he passed for 522 yards, then a team record and still second most in Argonaut history. After splitting up with his stepfather, Knox would play only one more season of football before retiring, saying that football was a "game for animals".
Film actor, a drifter, and a poet
After leaving Toronto, Knox would appear in a few movies and television shows, but not return to football, despite offers from the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers of the newly formed American Football League.
In the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s Knox drifted around California, residing only a short time in various towns, prior to moving again. In July 1988 a reporter located him as he was moving out of a one room apartment in Canoga Park, California. Knox had lived there for just several weeks, spending the majority of his time writing poetry. Aside from past residences in McKinleyville, CA, Malibu, CA, and San Francisco, Knox lived for short periods in other states, i.e. Maine and Texas. He also lived for brief stints in Mexico and Europe.
Having been single since a divorce in 1964, his philosophy was to stay free. Knox compared his lifestyle to the noble savage written about by James Fennimore Cooper. He read English literature by the hour, stretched out on a cot or in his worn out twelve-year-old car. He yearned for a life at sea.
- Fan Has Fond Memories of Knox, Los Angeles Times, July 30, 1988, Pg. 3.
- Knox, Harvey (September 6, 1954). "Why Ronnie Knox Quit California". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- "Ronnie Knox Plans Stiff Fight To Retain Football Eligibility". United Press Associations. May 23, 1956. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- Eller, Claudia (May 4, 1999). "MGM Continues to Struggle to Reinvent Itself". Los Angeles Times.
- "Ronnie Knox Ends College Career; Signs With Hamilton Pro Eleven". Associated Press. August 19, 1956. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- "Harvey and Ronnie Agree to Terms With Calgary". Los Angeles Times. October 3, 1956. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- "Ronnie Knox Suspended". Associated Press. October 4, 1957. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- "Ronnie Knox Going Back To Toronto". Associated Press. February 19, 1959. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- "Ronnie Knox Splits Up With Stepfather". Los Angeles Times. June 14, 1958. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- "'It's Game For Animals,' Says Poet Ronnie Knox As He Quits Football". United Press International. September 16, 1959. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- "Ronnie Knox Quits Football For Acting". The Miami News. United Press International. July 26, 1958.
- Poetry in Motion, Los Angeles Times, July 17, 1988, Internet article.