James Olson, The Andromeda Strain and Battlestar Galactica Actor, Dead at 91

James Olson, an actor of the stage and screen known for his work on The Andromeda Strain and Rachel, Rachel has passed away at the age of 91. The news of Olson's passing was first confirmed by The Malibu Times, with the outlet confirming that he passed away peacefully at his home in Malibu, California on Sunday, April 17th. Born in Evanston, Illinois on October 8, 1930, Olson became a stage actor in the Chicago area while studying at Northwestern University, before operating as a military policeman in the United States Army from 1952 to 1954. He then moved to New York to study under Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio, and made his onscreen debut in the 1956 film The Sharkfighters.

That same year, Olson portrayed the title role in "The Life of Mickey Mantle", an episode of the Kraft Theatre anthology. He became a staple of the stage and screen across the 1960s, with onscreen appearances in Playhouse 90, Route 66, The Defenders, and The Three Sisters. His biggest role came in 1968's Rachel, Rachel, which saw him star alongside Joanne Woodward in the film, which was eventually nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

In the decades that followed, Olson became a recurring character actor in the world of television, making appearances in MaudeThe Virginian, Medical Center, Columbo, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Rookies, The F.B.I., Marcus Welby, M.D., Mannix, Kung Fu, Cannon, The Streets of San Francisco, Wonder Woman, The Bionic Woman, Battlestar Galactica, Little House on the Prairie, and Hawaii Five-0.

One of Olson's most memorable roles was as Dr. Mark Hall in The Andromeda Strain, the 1971 film adaptation of Michael Crichton's iconic novel. He also made appearances in theatrical productions throughout his career, including The Young and Beautiful, J.B., The Sin of Pat Muldoon, Romulus, The Chinese Prime Minister, The Three Sisters, Slapstick Tragedy, Of Love Remembered, and the infamous Broadway adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's. His final onscreen appearance, prior to his retirement, was as Clarence La Rue in a 1990 episode of Murder, She Wrote.


Our thoughts are with Olson's family, friends, and fans at this time.