NEW YORK: Jim Brown, one of the greatest running backs in the history of the National Football League who quit the game at the height of his career to act in Hollywood movies and add his voice to the civil rights movement, has died. He was 87. Brown died on Thursday night, his wife Monique Brown said on Instagram. “To the world he was an activist, actor, and football star. To our family, he was a loving and wonderful husband, father, and grandfather. Our hearts are broken,” she wrote. As an explosive fullback for the Cleveland Browns, Brown combined power, speed, intensity and size (6 feet 2 inches, 230 pounds) in a way not seen in the NFL before he joined the league in 1957. He announced his retirement in July 1966 while in London filming his second movie, “The Dirty Dozen.” He was a prominent figure in the Black Pride movement of the 1960s and a friend of Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan as well as Huey Newton, co-founder of the militant Black Panthers group. Brown was dogged by allegations of violence against women over the decades though never convicted. Brown admitted in his 1989 memoir to slapping women. “In a perfect world, I don’t think any man should slap anyone,” Brown wrote. “I don’t start fights, but sometimes I don’t walk away from them. It hasn’t happened in a long time, but it’s happened, and I regret those times. I should have been more in control of myself, stronger, more adult.” Brown led the NFL in rushing in eight of his nine seasons and was voted the league’s most valuable player four times. He held 20 league records when he retired at age 30, including most rushing yards and most rushing touchdowns. In 1999, the Sporting News put him atop its list of the 100 greatest players of the 20th century. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement on Friday that Brown was one of the most dominant players to ever step on any athletic field and also a cultural figure who helped promote change. Black activism: In 1967, Brown joined other activist athletes such as basketball’s Bill Russell and Lew Alcindor, who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in supporting Muhammad Ali’s refusal to be drafted into the U.S. military. Brown also sought to empower the Black community by starting the Negro Industrial Economic Union in the 1960s to help African Americans in the business world and in the 1980s founded Amer-I-Can, a program to help ex-convicts and former gang members by focusing on job skills and nonviolence. Brown was one of the first U.S. athletes to parlay his on-field accomplishments into another full-time career, which included more than 40 movies and television shows. His rugged good looks and quiet charisma made him a natural for tough-guy roles and he made his first movie, the Western “Rio Conchos,” in 1964 while still with the Browns. In addition to “The Dirty Dozen,” (1967) his early works included “Ice Station Zebra” (1968) and 1970s “blaxploitation” films such as “Three the Hard Way” (1974), “Slaughter” (1972) and “Black Gunn” (1972). Brown’s 1969 movie “100 Rifles” featured a rare interracial sex scene with Raquel Welch. He posed nude for Playgirl magazine and wrote frankly about his busy sex life in his 1989 book “Out of Bounds.” Later movies included the blaxploitation spoof “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” (1988) and Spike Lee’s “He Got Game” (1988). Brown was accused of violence against women multiple times including a 1965 case in which he was acquitted of assaulting an 18-year-old woman.