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Merlin Olsen, a former Los Angeles Ram defensive tackle, actor, and football analyst, has died. He was 69.
Merlin Olsen died on Thursday in Duarte, CA. His brother Orrin announced his death, adding that he had been treated for mesothelioma, a form of cancer.
As an LA Ram, Merlin Olsen was one of the Rams’ Fearsome Foursome that terrorized QBs in the NFL during the early 60’s. 6 feet 5 inches and 270 pounds, Olsen played on the same line with future Hall of Famer Deacon Jones, Lamar Lundy, and Roosevelt Grier.
Merlin Olsen was a 14-time Pro Bowl pick. He was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.
After retiring, in February 1977, Merlin Olsen signed a contract with NBC. Not only did he work alongside Dick Enberg in the broadcast booth, he made a successful transition to acting in television.
He played Jonathan Garvey on “Little House on the Prairie” alongside Michael Landon, from 1977-81. Then he moved, unsuccessfully, to his own series, “Father Murphy,” which only lasted two seasons. He also appeared in the series “Fathers and Sons” and “Aaron’s Way,” as well as being an FTD spokesman in TV ads.
Merlin Olsen is survived by brothers Orrin, Clark, and Phil; his sisters Colleen, Lorraine, Gwen, Winona and Ramona; his wife, Susan; their children Nathan, Jill and Kelly; and several grandchildren.