Monday, May 11, 2015

Defensive Linemen in Hollywood: Merlin Olsen

Another of the most successful football players turned actors is Merlin Olsen of the L.A. Rams. Again, his beginning were humble but he rose to the top level of the television world starring in a couple popular television series.

He began acting in The Undefeated as Little George, a strong but kind former Confederate soldier who like playing with children rather than fighting. The 6'5" Olsen had lifts put in his boots to make him a towering 6'7" in the John Wayne-Rock Hudson film.



Next up for Merlin was Merlin Fergus in  Petticoat Junction - With This Ring (1970) 


His third role was in 1971 in One More Train to Rob. He played Eli Jones and his younger brother Phil Olsen also playing in film, doing their own stunts. The younger Olsen played Eli Jones's younger brother.

Olsen played Sgt. Fitzsimmons in Something Big in 1971




He played a bigoted ne'er do well in Kung Fu, the TV series a year later




At some point he played a murderous wrestler on Police Surgeon, but it it not credited on IMDB.com


In 1975, on the TV show Mitchell he played a bad guy named Benton and fired off a few shots at a helicopter in that role





After we retired from football he played Jonathon Garvey, a sidekick to Michael Landon on Little House on the Prairie


He played Jonas in the TV movie The Juggler of Notre Dame 




And then starred in his own series Father Murphy.



Fathers and Sons was not a success, here is the opening:

In 1984 Olsen starred in a TV movie with Billy Dee Williams and Morgan Fairchild, and  Joseph Bottoms called Time Bomb. They were a team (not unlike Fox Force Five) that were elite crime fighters
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In 1988 he got a new series, Aaron's Way in which he played an Amish man, Aaron Miller. That series, though, was short-lived

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