Merlin Olsen spent 15 years in the NFL, dishing out hits for the Los Angeles Rams as part of the Fearsome Foursome defensive line. We remember Olsen’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Merlin Olsen spent 15 years in the NFL, dishing out hits for the Los Angeles Rams as part of the Fearsome Foursome defensive line. Away from the gridiron, Olsen was a successful broadcaster for college and professional football, but he is perhaps remembered best as Jonathan Garvey on “Little House on the Prairie.” For four years, he played the affable farmer and friend to Michael Landon’s Charles Ingalls. Olsen also would star later on “Father Murphy,” another TV series produced by Landon. Later in life, he also devoted his time to the Children’s Miracle Network telethons and his wife, Susan Wakley, with whom he raised three children. We remember Olsen’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2015: Jimmy Greenspoon, U.S. keyboardist who was a member of Three Dog Night, dies at 67.
2012: Sid Couchey, U.S. comic book artist known for drawing the “Richie Rich” comics, dies at 92.
2010: Merlin Olsen, U.S. Hall of Fame defensive end for the Los Angeles Rams who became an actor after football and starred on TV’s “Little House on the Prairie” and “Father Murphy,” dies at 69.
Olsen tried and excelled at a little bit of everything, starting with football. The Utah State defensive tackle graduated to an NFL career, playing with the Los Angeles Rams for 15 seasons. He was Rookie of the Year in his first year, a Pro Bowl pick for 14 out of 15 seasons, an NFL All-Decade Team member in both decades in which he played, and a member of the Rams’ Fearsome Foursome defensive line. Read more
2009: Charles Lewis Jr., U.S. businessman who founded the TapouT clothing line, dies at 45.
2007: Betty Hutton, U.S. actress and singer who was very successful in the 1940s and ’50s and starred in “The Perils of Pauline” and “Annie Get Your Gun,” dies at 86.
By 1952, her world began to unravel. It started when she insisted to Paramount that her second husband, dance director Charles O’Curran, direct her next film. When the studio balked, she walked away from her contract, perhaps expecting rival studios would jump at the chance to sign one of Paramount’s biggest earners. They didn’t. She was by then 31 years old and had a reputation of being difficult, even physically abusive on the set. (“When they work with me,” she once bragged to Time magazine, “they gotta get insurance policies.”) Read more
2006: Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, Canadian NHL Hall of Fame hockey player who is credited with inventing the slap shot, dies at 75.
1996: Vince Edwards, U.S. actor known best for playing the starring role on TV’s “Ben Casey,” dies at 67.
1992: Richard Brooks, U.S. director and screenwriter who directed classic films including “In Cold Blood” and “Looking for Mr. Goodbar,” dies at 79.
1986: Sonny Terry, U.S. blues harp player who was known for his energetic blues harmonica style, dies at 74.
1979: Victor Kilian, U.S. character actor who appeared in such movies as “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” dies at 88.
1975: Sammy Spear, U.S. orchestra leader who led the orchestra for the TV series “The Honeymooners,” dies at 65.
1972: Fredric Brown, U.S. science fiction author who wrote the critically acclaimed “Martians Go Home,” dies at 65.
1971: Whitney M. Young Jr., U.S. civil rights leader who headed the National Urban League, dies at 49.
As the head of the National Urban League, he turned the organization from a small and cautious one to a leader in the civil rights movement. He worked with major corporations to change their hiring practices, bringing more African-Americans and women into good jobs. He advised Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, fostering a connection between their office and the civil rights movement. As Nixon said at Young’s funeral, “He knew how to accomplish what other people were merely for.” Read more
1971: Philo T. Farnsworth, U.S. inventor who made many contributions toward the development of the TV, dies at 64.
1970: Erle Stanley Gardner, U.S. lawyer and author known for writing the “Perry Mason” TV series, dies at 80.
1957: Richard E. Byrd, U.S. naval officer and explorer who was a pioneer in his expeditions to Antarctica, dies at 68.
1955: Oscar Mayer, German-American founder of Oscar Mayer Foods, dies at 95.