Merlin Olsen, an NFL Hall of Famer who also became an actor and starred on "Little House on the Prairie" and "Father Murphy," died today in Los Angeles at 69, reports the Los Angeles Times. As recently as December, Olsen had sued NBC Studios and other companies claiming that exposure to asbestos he had had since he was about 10 resulted in his contracting mesothelioma, the Times reported.
Olsen's acting career consisted of primarly positive roles and gentle souls. He played Jonathan Garvey, best friend to Michael Landon's Charles Ingalls on "Little House" in 51 episodes. And he played the lead role on "Father Murphy" for 31 episodes. The show was nominated for an Emmy in 1983 for "Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore)." His most recent acting was in the series "Aaron's Way" in 1988. He played the head of an Amish family who moves from Pennsylvania to California to help the girlfriend of his son, killed in a surfing accident, and their baby run a winery.
OLSEN, Merlin Jay
Born: 9/14/1940, Logan, Utah, U.S.A.
Died: 3/11/2010, Duarte, California, U.S.A.
Merlin Olsen's westerns – actor:
The Undefeated – 1969 (Cpl. Little George)
One More Train to Rob – 1971 (Eli Jones)
Something Big – 1971 (Sgt. Fitzsimmons)
Kung Fu (TV) – 1973 (Perlee Skowrin)
Little House on the Prairie (TV) – 1977-1981 (Jonathan Garvey)
Father Murphy (TV) – 1981-1983 (John Michael Murphy)