Merlin Olsen Dies

Merlin Olsen, a Hall of Fame defensive lineman with the Los Angeles Rams who was a charter member of the team's famed Fearsome Foursome, then made a remarkably smooth transition into careers in broadcasting and acting, has died.

He was 69.

Olsen died early Thursday at City of Hope hospital in Duarte while surrounded by his family, his brother Orrin said. He had been diagnosed last year with mesothelioma, a form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs.

Labeled fierce for his relentless play as a Hall of Fame defensive lineman, Merlin Olsen also was gentle enough for a role on one of television's most wholesome shows and as a spokesman in a well-known flower advertising campaign.

Olsen's deep, rich voice and sincerity made him a success both as an actor and in the broadcast booth, where he offered insights to the game he played so well for so long.

Olsen died early Thursday after a battle with cancer. He was 69.

Merlin Olsen, the NFL Hall of Famer-turned-small-screen star, has died at his Utah home of cancer. He was 69.

Best known for the hit series Little House on the Prairie and Father Murphy, Olsen was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2009 and had undergone several rounds of chemotherapy.