MARSH—Owen T. Marsh, 90, died peacefully of natural causes on Jan. 10, 2021. He was at his home in Portland with his wife of 70 years, Evelyn, at his side.
Owen was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
He was born the youngest of three, in Hollywood, Calif., on May 29, 1930, the son of famed MGM cinematographer Oliver Marsh and musician Elizabeth Marion.
His childhood was spent in Hollywood, Malibu and then North Hollywood. He grew up on movie sets, where his lifelong love of camera work was instilled. Marrying his high school sweetheart Evelyn, he then served in combat for the U.S. in Korea.
Upon his return, he found his way to working in the lowest of filmmaking jobs as a film loader. He moved up the motion-picture-cameraman career ladder, where he specialized in stunt and special effects photography of all kinds.
His camerawork included hanging off cranes and helicopters, on the wings of airplanes, on top of trains, on the back of speeding cars, in cages with lions, under buffalo stampedes, and his favorite of all: underwater work.
Settling in the San Fernando Valley, he and Evelyn had two children, daughter Cheri and son Randy. Sadly, Randy died as an adolescent — an accidental death that Owen mourned deeply the rest of his life.
A baby boy, Scott, was adopted in 1967.
Owen was passionate about his work and has credits on hundreds of films and television shows, working on classic films such as “Ben Hur,” “Papillon,” “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” “King Kong,” “Loved Me Tender,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” “How the West Was Won,” “The Towering Inferno” and “Uptown Saturday Night.”
He was among a handful of founding members who established the Society of Camera Operators. Owen served as the nonprofit’s inaugural president from 1979-81 and received its Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992.
Retiring in 1990, he and Evelyn found their way to Florence, Ore., as early residents in Florentine Estates, where they lived happily for just short of 30 years.
Owen took up retirement with enthusiasm, becoming active in Florentine Estates aesthetics, playing bridge in the clubhouse, installing a beautiful Japanese garden in their back yard, and volunteering at the Florence Chamber of Commerce, where he raved to visitors about his new hometown.
He took up ceramics and bonsai cultivation with zest, at one point having over 300 plants. He also self-published, a humorous memoir of his movie making days titled Parking Lots I’ve Eaten In and several poetry collections.
In 2019, Owen and Evelyn sold their treasured home in Florence, relocating in Portland to live with their daughter, Cher, and her husband Ric, near grandchildren Yara and Aram and their spouses Julio and Mattie, and great- grandchildren Omar, Lucia and Vera.
Owen is also survived by son, Scott.
In remembrance of Owen’s life, the family asks that any charitable donations be made to the Society of Camera Operators’ sponsored charity the Vision Center Fund, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (chla.org/ways-help), an organization that treats children’s eye diseases.