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Waldemar Ager

Twice decorated by the king of Norway (in 1923 and 1939), Ager was a noted author of novels and short stories, a newspaper editor (in Eau Claire, Wisconsin), and a lecturer.

Arthur Andersen


The founder of Arthur Andersen & Co. was taught a saying by his Norwegian mother: "Think straight — talk straight." That approach brought him success in the world of finance. He succeeded, also, as an academician, attaining a full professorship at Northwestern.

Nominated by Ola Borgejordet

Andrews Sisters

       LaVerne Andrews (1911-67)
      • Maxene Andrews (1916-95)
       Patty Andrews (1918 - )

Their hit recordings included "Bei mir bist du schön" (1937), "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy" (1941), "Don't Sit under the Apple Tree" (1942), and "Rum and Coca-Cola" (1944). Among the movies in which the popular trio appeared were Buck Privates (1941), Private Buckaroo (1942) and Follow the Boys (1944). Born in Minnesota, their mother was Norwegian (and their father Greek).

Christian Anfinsen


Chief among his honors was a 1972 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Nominated by Jon Anfinsen

(1933 - )

Born in Oslo, she ventured to Hollywood and became an actress, appearing in guest roles on more than 150 television programs from the late 1950s through the late 1960s. Anna-Lisa (Anna Lise Ruud) was a co-star of "Black Saddle" (ABC, 1959-60), portraying hotel owner Nora Travers.

Nominated by Niels Petter Solberg

James Arness
(1923 - )

For 20 years, he starred on television's "Gunsmoke" as Marshal Matt Dillon. The actual family name of James Arness and brother Peter Graves is Aurness.

John C. Ausland
Author, Military Adviser

His book "Letters Home: A War Memoir," published in 1995, was comprised of letters he had written as an Army lieutenant (then captain) from European battlefields. During his 25-year career as a diplomat, ending in 1974, Ausland served on the State Department's Berlin Task Force when the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961 and was an adviser to the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Cuban missile crisis the following year. He authored six books on foreign affairs and the military.

Nominated by Trygve Strøm

Bernt Balchen

Born in Norway, he was the first pilot to fly over both the north and south poles, among other distinctions.

Jakob Bjerknes

A pioneer in weather forecasting, he coined the terms "warm front" and "cold front." Born in Norway, he became a professor at UCLA.

Robert Bly
Poet, Author
(1926 - )

Though born in the United States, he is closely in touch with his heritage. Bly's own poetic works are heavily influenced by Norwegian poetry, which he translated into English under a Fullbright grant.

Nominated by Haakon Bjerke

Norman Borlaug
(1914 - )

He is known as the "father of the Green Revolution." Through development of a hearty, high-yield strain of wheat, he was instrumental in improving food production in India, Pakistan and other countries, resulting in the feeding of millions. Borlaug was awarded the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize.

James Cagney

He was one of Hollywood's top luminaries. His surname was Irish, but his mother was Carolyn Nelson, daughter of a Norwegian river barge captain.

Arlene Dahl
(1925 - )

Possessed of beauty, she was an MGM movie star, later becoming successful in business. She is the mother of actor Lorenzo Lamas (whose father was Dahl's second husband, Argentinian-American actor Fernando Lamas).

Nominated by Gary A. Andersen

Blossom Dearie
(1926 - )

Blossom Dearie has triumphed both as a night club singer and a recording artist. Her mother was Norwegian and her father Scottish.

Nominated by Carl Olson

Babe Didrikson
She excelled in track and field (winning two gold medals and one silver medal in the 1932 Olympics), golf, softball, baseball, swimming, figure skating, billiards, and other sports. In 1950, the Associated Press named her outstanding female athlete of the first half of the 20th Century -- and in the ensuing half century, no woman surpassed her achievements in sports.

Linda Eder
(1961 - )
She has attained accolades as a recording artist, concert singer, and Broadway star. Her mother was Norwegian (and father Austrian).

Stein Eriksen
(1927 - )
Born in Norway, Eriksen bagged a gold medal in the giant slalom and a silver medal in the slalom during the 1952 Olympics. He is credited with devising "aerials," a freestyle event, around 1950. Eriksen is director of skiing at Deer Valley, Utah -- where Olympic ski events were held in 2002, 50 years after his own Olympic triumphs.

Nominated by Ola Borgejordet

Ole Evinrude

Born near Oslo, he emigrated to the United States at age 5. He developed the first successful outboard motor.

Nominated by Haakon Bjerke

Kirsten Flagstad
Opera Singer

Known as the "voice of the century," she performed before cheering audiences both in her native Norway and in the United States.

Joe Foss
Soldier, Politician

He was one of the greatest heroes of World War II, earning a Congressional medal of honor and being designated by Life Magazine as "America's No. 1 Ace." Foss became governor of South Dakota, the first commissioner of the American Football League, president of the National Rifle Assn. and host of national television shows. He was Norwegian on his father's side and Scotch on his mother's side.

Nominated by Erik B. Foss

Andrew Furuseth
Labor Leader

Born in Romedal, Norway, he became America's chief exponent of the rights of sailors to safe working conditions. Furuseth served as president of the International Seamen's Union from 1908-38.

Nominated by Robert Muntz

Ivar Giaever
(1929 - )
Professor Giaever divides his time between the United States and Norway, where he was born. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1973.

Herbjørn Gausta

This early Norwegian immigrant distinguished himself in America as a painter. His works are found at Luther College (where he stdied and later taught) and at in the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa.

Nominated by Robert L. Burch

Peter Graves
(1926 - )

Best known for his role as Jim Phelps on "Mission Impossible," he was born Peter Graves Aurness. He starred in the 1950s in the family television series, "Fury," and most recently as host of A&E's "Biography." His father was Rolf Aurness, a Norwegian.

Sigrid Gurie

She starred opposite Gary Cooper in "The Adventures of Marco Polo" and opposite John Wayne in "Three Faces West," and was a leading player in "Algiers." Sigrid Gurie was born in Brooklyn to Norwegian parents; they returned to Norway before Sigrid and her twin brother were a year old. Her brother was Knut Haukelid, a Norwegian freedom fighter in World War II. (See below.)

Nominated by Bob Coe

Greta Gynt

She was born in Oslo as Margrethe Woxholt. As Greta Gynt (using the surname of Ibsen's character, Peer Gynt), she became a leading film star in Great Britain before coming to Hollywood. Her brother is underwater photographer Gil Woxholt.

Nominated by Niels Petter Solberg

Knut Haukelid

WW II Hero

Born in the United States, he traveled with his Norwegian parents to their native land as an infant. He later returned here, studying at Massachusetts State College. As part of the Norwegian resistance force during World War II, his sabotage efforts thwarted the Nazis' efforts to develop the atomic bomb. His twin sister was Sigrud Gurie, a movie actress of the 1930s-'40s. (See above.)

Nominated by Bob Coe

Hans Christian Heg
Born in Norway, he led the Union Army's Scandinavian Regiment in the Civil War.

Sonja Henie
Actress, Ice Skater

Representing Norway, she won three Olympics gold medals, and went on to star in 20th Century Fox musicals.

Conrad Hilton
Hotel Owner

Starting out with a single hotel in a small town in Texas, he developed the worldwide Hilton Hotel chain. His father emigrated from Norway.

Nominated by Simen Dysvik Hagen

Celeste Holm
(1919 - )

Her father was Norwegian. Through the decades, she has been a leading player in stage productions, motion pictures, and television shows. She was in the cast of the CBS-TV series, "Promised Land."

Nominated by Amanda Stevenson


Hubert H. Humphrey

38th Vice President of the United States


HHH served as vice president under Lyndon Johnson and was the Democratic Party's 1968 presidential nominee.

Henry "Scoop" Jackson
United States Senator

A leading member of the United States Senate, he unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972 and 1976.

Hans Jevne
Grocer/Civic Leader
(1849 - 1927)

He came to Los Angeles, opened a small grocery store, worked hard, and became an "American success story." His was the premier grocery store in the western United States. He was also a wholesaler and a civic leader.

Earl Johnson Jr.
Appellate Court Jurist
(1933 - )

Norwegian on his father's side, Johnson was a member of the California Court of Appeal, retiring in 2007.

Vendela Kirsebom

(1967 - )

She was born in Sweden, but her mother was Norwegian. (Her husband, businessman Olaf Thomessen, also is Norwegian.) Though best known as a model — indeed, "supermodel" — she has also acted and has served as a reporter (during the 1994 Olympics games) on Norwegian television.

Carole Landis

Carole Landis was born Frances Lillian Mary Ridste. Her father was Norwegian and her mother Polish. Though fairly successful as an actress, her personal life was rocky, and she committed suicide at the age of 29.

Ernest O. Lawrence

This son of Norwegian immigrants won the 1939 Nobel Prize in physics for his invention in 1930 of the cyclotron, a device which greatly accelerates ions. The device was the sine qua non to advancements in nuclear physics in the years that followed.

E.G. (“Everett Gunnar”) Marshall

Marshall was the star of television's "The Defenders" and host of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, and had a multitude of other credits. Both of his parents were of Norwegian heritage.

Robert Mitchum

His mother, Ann Gunderson, was Norwegian; his father, a brawler, was not. Mitchum had a distinguished film career, but, having acquired traits of his father, was known as one of Hollywood's "bad boys."

Walter Mondale
42nd Vice President of the United States
(1928 - )

Mondale has served as vice president of the United States, United States senator (for 12 years) and ambassador to Japan. He was the Democratic Party's 1984 presidential nominee, losing to Ronald Reagan.

Marilyn Monroe

This legendary film star was the illegitimate daughter of a Norwegian, Edward Mortenson.

Harry Morgan
(1915 - )

He was born with the name of Harry Bratsburg. His father was Norwegian and his mother Swedish. He has been a regular in more television series  —  12 — than any other actor (and that isn't counting mini-series or recurring guest roles).

Knute Nelson

This native of Voss, Norway emigrated with his mother to the U.S., fought in the Civil War, became a lawyer, served in the U.S. House of Representatives, was elected to two terms as governor of Minnesota, and was a five-term member of the U.S. Senate.

Nominated by Magnar Brandseth

Eliot Ness
Law Enforcer

He was the son of Norwegian immigrants. Ness had gained prominence as an incorruptible Prohibition-era crime-buster, and nemesis of mobster Al Capone. But it was not until after his death that he became a legend, brought about by depictions of him (largely fictional) in the TV series, "The Untouchables."

Nominated by Trygve Strøm

Greta Nissen

Born in Oslo, she came to Hollywood and became a star of silent films. With the advent of the "talkies," her accent caused her to be bumped from a leading role in a Howard Hughes movie, "Hell's Angels," originally slated to be made as a silent film. But she went on to success in the talkies, starring in a variety of roles.

Nominated by Niels Petter Solberg

Lauris Norstad
Military Leader

His ancestors were from Norway and Sweden. (Sweden is an obscure kingdom on the Scandinavian Peninsula.) He served as supreme commander of the allied forces in Europe from 1956-63.

Nominated by Trygve Strøm

Casper Oimoen

A native of Norway, he served as captain of the U.S. Olympic ski team in 1936. During his career as a skier, he captured more than 400 medals and trophies.

Nominated by Ola Borgejordet

Lars Onsager
Chemist, Physicist

Born in Oslo, he became a professor at Yale and earned the 1968 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Pat Paulsen

The subtle, tongue-in-cheek humor of this man who purported to be seeking the presidency (in seven elections) was typically Norwegian. He won an Emmy in 1968 for his work on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
Nominated by Trygve Strøm

Charles J. Pederson

His father, Brede Pedersen, was Norwegian (and his mother Japanese). He won the 1987 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Cleng Peerson
Father of Norwegian Immigration

He led fellow Norwegians to settlements in the United States, from the east coast to Texas.

Sally Ride
(1951 - )

She was the first American woman in space. Dr. Ride is now a physics professor at the University of California, San Diego, as well as an author.

Knute Rockne
Football Coach

Born in Voss, Norway, he served as head football coach at Notre Dame from 1918-1931, and was responsible for numerous innovations in the sport.

Ole Rølvaag

Immigrating to the United States from Norway in 1896, he wrote of Norwegians in America. Rølvaag served as a professor at St. Olaf College.

Nominated by Jon Peder Vestad

Finn Ronne
Polar Explorer

An immigrant from Norway, he joined Admiral Richard Byrd's second and third Antarctic expeditions, foraying to the South Pole seven times after that. Ronne established that Antarctica was a single continent, rather than two islands. Ronne's 1947 Antarctic expedition was the first to include women — one of the two women being his wife, Edith "Jackie" Ronne.

Nominated by Edward Ronne Sr.

Marta Sandal
Concert Singer

This soprano, born in Oslo (then Christiania), became a protégé of Edvard Grieg. Heading the bill at a concert attended by Norway's king and queen, she sang Grieg's songs, accompanied on the piano by the composer, himself. Sandal introduced Grieg's music to North America, performing at Carnegie Hall and elsewhere.

Pete Sanstol

This Norway-born pugilist was recognized by the Canadian Boxing Federation, but not by the National Boxing Association in the U.S., as having won the world bantamweight championship in Montreal in 1931.

Nominated by Ric Sanstol

Atle Selberg
Professor of Mathematics
(1917 - )

Born in Norway, he became a professor at Princeton. He was awarded the Fields Medal in 1950.

Eric Sevareid
Television News Commentator

His career as a television journalist was capped by his delivery of commentaries on the CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite.

Karsten Solheim


He designed golf clubs that deviated from the conventional design, and built a successful business that manufactured the clubs.

Kevin Sorbo
(1958 - )

For five seasons, he portrayed the title character in television's immensely popular "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys."

Nominated by Elisabeth Smedsrud

Jan Stenerud
Professional Football Player
(1942 - )

Born in Fetsund, Norway, he changed American football by putting the "kick" in it -- literally. He introduced soccer-style kicking.

Richard E. Taylor

(1929 - )

Though his nationality is Canadian, he has taught at Stanford University (in California) since 1962. He won the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physics based on research there. Taylor's mother was the daughter of Norwegian immigrants.

John A. (“Snowshoes”) Thompson
Mail Carrier

Every winter from From 1856 to 1876, he made 90-mile treks through the snow, on ski-skates, carrying mail between Placerville, Calif. and Mormon Station, Utah. Thompson, who was born in Norway, is described as the "Viking of the Sierra."

Merle Antony Tuve

In his youth, he and the kid next door, named Ernie, constructed radio devices. Ernie — listed here as Ernest O. Lawrence — became a Nobel Prize winning physicist. Tuve entered the same field. He and a colleague in 1925, using radio devices, verified the existence of the ionosphere; their research faciltated the development of radar. Tuve was awarded the Medal of Merit in 1946 by President Truman.

Nominated by Prof. Per B. Lilje

Oswald Veblen


He was a Princeton University professor who was an innovator in mathematics. He was a nephew of Thorstein Veblen, listed immediately below.

Thorstein Veblen
Economist, Social Commentator


The son of Norwegian immigrants, he taught at Stanford and other universities. He authored the book The Theory of the Leisure Class, in which he coined the term "conspicuous consumption."

Andrew Volstead

Volstead will not take the prize as the most popular government official of the 20th Century. As a member of the House of Representatives, he authored the Volstead Act, which provided for enforcement of the 18th Amendment -- that is, Prohibition.

Nominated by Trygve Strøm

Grete Waitz
Marathon Runner
(1953 - )
The winner of innumerable marathons, she attained a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics. She divides her time between her native Norway and the United States; she and her husband have homes in Oslo and Gainsville, Florida.

Earl Warren
Politician, Jurist

Imbued with the ambition of becoming president of the United States, he wound up heading a different branch of government, serving as chief justice from 1953-69. Prior to that, he was governor of California, and was the 1948 Republican nominee for vice president.

Nominated by Prof. Thomas Lundmark

Renee Zellweger
(1969 - )

Her mother is Norwegian, her father Swiss. She has had starring roles in various films, including "Me, Myself and Irene."

Nominated by Ola Borgejordet

She was also nominated, independently, by Sverre Gunnar Haga.

Vera Zorina

Though born in Germany, she was brought up in her mother's homeland, Norway. Having attained a staus as a celebrated dancer, Goldwyn Studios lured her to Hollywood with a 7-year contract. She had leading roles in seven motion pictures.

Nominated by Niels Petter Solberg


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Copyright 1998-2008, Roger M. Grace