Merlin Olsen, 1940-2010
Former Rams defensive tackle and TV actor Merlin Olsen has passed at 69 from mesothelioma. Though he was a superb defender whose 15 seasons with the Rams (then of Los Angeles) put him in the Pro Football Hall Fame, Olsen was always perceived a gentle-giant type (particularly with his aspect softened by a beard), in which guise he found work as an actor, mostly on TV, where he was best known for his lumberman Jonathan Garvey, tender-hearted but swift to anger against injustice. This year Olsen sued NBC, Sherwin-Williams, and others whose asbestos-contaminated products he alleged caused his mesothelioma when he worked as a drywaller.
In this video Olsen shows off his professorial manner in a WNST interview, in which he confesses (kindly as he can) that his colleagues Jack Youngblood and Deacon Jones had a "mean streak," which "wasn't a comfortable part of the game for me."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.