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RIP Merlin Olsen

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Pro football hall of famer, actor and commercial spokesman Merlin Olsen died here Wednesday, March 10. He had been battling mesothelioma for more than a year. He was 69. MSTies will remember him as Benton the long-suffering butler in episode 512- MITCHELL.

An extensive look at his football career is here.

38 Replies to “RIP Merlin Olsen”

  1. I’ve watched “Mitchell” at least five times, and I don’t remember the butler, unless he went through the styrofoam coffee table.


  2. Mac says:

    Oh, you remember him — he beat up Mitchell on the boat before getting impaled on a boat hook?

    Personally, I thought he seemed like a perfectly good butler to me. Martin Balsam was a lousy boss.


  3. J says:

    Rumor has it that he was a lousy butler.


  4. trickymutha says:

    WE mourn thee Mr. Olsen. I remember many a party up here near Canada when we say in unison “Hey, hoser, fetch me nuther Merlin Molson.” Your role in Mitchell is epic. You got to slug Joe Don Baker- we salute you for this. RIP- and I hope you don’t have a mean boss up there like Martin Balsam.


  5. Will says:

    The soup was cold. He was a lousy butler.


  6. AlbuquerqueTurkey says:

    All of the “Mitchell” jokes aside, Merlin Olsen was a decent actor, a great football player, and by all accounts, a genuinely good man. RIP and God bless you, sir, and thanks for all you did in your life.


  7. mikek says:

    I’m glad for Merlin Olsen’s role in Mitchell. RIP.


  8. Johnny Ryde says:

    R.I.P. Merlin Olsen… (Fourteen straight Pro-Bowls. Wow.)


  9. Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    Damn, now I need a pick-me-up bouquet.


  10. Mac says:

    It was a bouillabaisse!


  11. Chief?McCloud! says:

    Prayers to your family. You will be missed sir.

    Pa? Did you hear about Mr. Olsen? Gone to the BIG House on the Prairie. Check in on Mr. Landon, won’t you?


  12. norgavue says:

    rip merlin. Guess I will be watching MITCHELL tonight in your honor.


  13. Bat Masterson says:

    Does 1-800-FLOWERS do funerals?


  14. Craig J. Clark says:

    Merlin got my vote in the Favorite Movie Sidekicks discussion, so it’s sad to see him go.


  15. ck says:

    He had a nice supporting role in a holiday movie,
    “The Juggler of Notre Dame”, although in the
    movie I wouldn’t be surprised if his sister served
    the soup cold to the Juggler.


  16. Joe Raygor says:

    Sorry to hear of his passing.

    Random thought: I wish the Rams would go back to Los Angeles.


  17. Titanius Anglesmith, Fancy Man of Cornwood says:

    Merlin, you were NOT a lousy butler! In fact, you were outstanding in everything you did. How many people can we say that about?


  18. Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    #17 How many people can we say that about?

    Well, there’s Merlin, and me, of course….


  19. GizmonicTemp says:

    Man, what’s going on? First Mr. Pierce, now Mr. Olsen. Pardon my candor, but who’s next?!


  20. ColonelMortimer says:

    The lousy butler exchange is such a weird moment in Mitchell (it feels like the movie came alive and began riffing itself) that my friends and I came up with a backstory for it, inspired partially by Ice, the bounty hunter from Arrested Development.

    Benton, despite basically being a thug and bodyguard for Cummings, actually had a bit of a passion of cooking and catering. He often worked hard to make great meals for Cummings and any of his guests, usually with little or no praise. That day, after taking a lot of abuse from Cummings and Mitchell, he just snapped a bit when Cummings insulted the coffee and his butlering abilities overall. He was trying really hard.

    So that’s our backstory for Benton, which makes him a much more likable character than Mitchell (though that ain’t hard). Farewell, Mr. Olsen. You shall be missed.


  21. Father Murphy, NOO!!!


  22. Pemmican says:

    Oh my! And I just watched “Mitchell” over the weekend.

    “As an actor, Merlin hadn’t found his instrument yet…”

    May I humbly suggest… a harp? Thank you for all your contributions, Mr. Olsen!


  23. Jeff in Denver says:

    Now he is the biggest REB in heaven.:cry:


  24. ciociekelly says:

    se ya later, chum …. :sad:


  25. Creeping Terror says:

    I grew up in SLC and Olsen was already retired (from football and acting) by the time I was old enough to know who he was. But he was on a LOT of car commercials locally. I probably knew him as a Chevrolet pitchman for 5 years before my older brother told me that he was an NFL Hall of Famer. So, I was pleased to see him in “Mitchell.”

    By the way, he was a great Chevy trucks spokesman. And a good butler, too.


  26. Mark D says:

    A childhood sports hero of mine as part of the L.A. Rams “Fearsome Foursome”, through the years I was always very impressed with how Merlin Olsen continuously reinvented himself (respected broadcaster, prolific pitchman, successful actor, etc.), and all that coming AFTER a spectacular, Hall of Fame pro football career. But I was most impressed with how decent a guy he always was, and how well-liked he seemed to be no matter where, or with whom, he worked…………….in many ways, a true, modern-day ‘Renaissance Man’.

    Good night gentle giant, wherever you may be; though a part of my childhood dies with you, there will always be a fond place held for you in this “little boy’s” heart……… :cry:


  27. KJB says:

    I would have been proud to have you as my butler, Merlin. Martin didn’t deserve you.

    Seriously, though, he seemed like a genuinely cool guy who got to do a lot of really interesting stuff with his life. We should all be so lucky.

    “No salesman at this entrance.”

    RIP, good sir.


  28. Ryoki says:

    Be sure to send some flowers from your FTD florist.


  29. Sweet Sweetback says:

    If only I could be a tenth as cool in life as Merlin Olsen. A fitting name for a genuine wizard of a man.


  30. Smoothie of Great Power says:

    Aww man, I had no idea that Merlin Olsen lived in Salt Lake City (since I do too). This is really really sad because, like Reb Brown, you just can’t help but love the guy. I had a teacher in high school who had a huge crush on Merlin too so I had some exposure to a couple of his other projects/films outside of Mitchell. It’s also true that, as an actor, he hadn’t found his instrument yet. Looking at his picture now, he’d have made a great Santa Claus.


  31. justinslot says:

    “No salesmen at this entrance.”


  32. rcfagnan says:

    “The soup’s cold!” But it was gespacho (sp?)!


  33. big61al says:

    Goodbye Merlin. He had done more in his life than that only a common man as myself could ever hope to dream. Great football player. I’ll miss him.


  34. Dean says:

    Flo’s gonna be mad, I’m drunk again.


  35. Happenstance says:

    I know nothing of his sports career, but remember him fondly from the occasional episode of “Little House on the Prairie” and NBC’s 1978 disaster movie “A Fire in the Sky.” And of course, “Mitchell.”


  36. MikeH says:

    I remember Merlin from the FTD ads: “Yeah here’s your lousy actor Bouquet!!”


  37. Radioman970 says:

    The sadness in Walnut Grove just never ends. Another likable actor from “Little House” gone. :( The wonderful old actor who played the preacher died not long ago. Seems like the doctor died only a few years ago.

    I actually felt sorry for Olsen on Mitchell, feeling he deserved better than such a bad role in a Jo Don Baker flick. I never watched Father Murphy, but that was more fitting for him.


  38. bobhoncho says:

    Darn, i wanted him to get me some flowers, pronto. Oh, well. Rest in peace, Merlin. And don’t visit Martin’s room up there unless you have some implement of destruction of some sort.


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