Sven Walnum

Date of Birth

December 25, 1922

Date of Death

November 7, 2011

City of Death

Santa Barbara

December 25, 1922 – November 7, 2011

Sven Walnum was born in Oslo, Norway and had many tumultuous experiences in his younger years: his mother was incapacitated when he was very young and he contracted a debilitating condition, himself. He recovered, as he grew older, and was attending the University of Oslo in 1940 when the Germans occupied Norway. The university was closed and many students and teachers captured as the Germans tried to uncover leaders of the Norwegian Underground or Milorg. Sven was captured and spent almost a year in a Nazi concentration camp outside of Oslo. He was released to his father when his mother was dying. He then joined the Underground and lived on a farm in the hills outside of Oslo. Sven and his fellow patriots would ski down the mountains at night, set explosives where they knew Nazi supply trains would travel and then ski back up the mountain!

Luckily, because of his large, loving and also extended family, Sven survived it all, and did so with optimism and courage. Even then, he was living part of his philosophy which, for him, was epitomized in a line from one his favorite films, “Lawrence of Arabia,” which was, ‘the trick is not minding that it hurts.’

In September of 1947, Sven immigrated to the United States to study Cinematography at the University of Southern California. He was sponsored by one of his cousins and put himself through school, selling newspapers. Whenever he could, he would duck into a movie theatre and study the photography incorporated into films. He always thought the black and white films were the most beautiful, with “Citizen Kane,” at the top of the list.

Shorty after graduating from USC, Sven began his own contributions to the film/television industry as a camera operator. Highlights of his career included: films such as “Scarecrow,” “Cinderella Liberty,” “Sugarland Express” and the acclaimed “Deliverance.” Television work included “The Entertainer,” and the classic mini-series, “Centennial,” to name a few.

In 1962 Sven became an American citizen. One of his first acts was to register to vote, which he did, for John F. Kennedy. Not only did he vote for him, he worked on the soon-to-be President’s campaign as a camera operator and photographer and amassed a large and impressive photo collection of that period. Many of those photographs have been exhibited in different parts of the country; the entire collection will soon be housed in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, MA.

Sven spent his retirement years pursuing his many interests which included still photography with the Channel City Camera Club, Square dancing, studying philosophy, playing Bridge, stamp-collecting, cross-word puzzles, and garage sales. He followed current events with zest and loved nothing more than a lively conversation about movies or politics. He will be missed by all of the people he knew through these many associations as well as his friends and neighbors, and of course, his loving family.

Sven was preceded in death by his wife, Roberta Walnum. He is survived by his children, Greger Walnum, Viveca Walnum, Bridget Murphy, Karen Murphy, his beloved grandson Ryan Murphy Marks, his brother Harald Walnum, and his most cherished companion, girlfriend and square dance partner, Dottie Iverson.

R.I.P., Svenski. A life-well lived, according to your own motto, “Live-Love-Laugh!”

A Memorial service will be held at the home of Dottie Iverson, 4597 Camino Molinero, Santa Barbara, California, 2P on December 3rd.


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