Born to Norwegian-American parents in Portland, Oregon, Andersen attended Stanford University. Andersen was a professional football player who played for the Cleveland Rams (1940–41) and the Detroit Lions (1941). During World War II, he served as a naval officer and as a gunnery officer on a destroyer escort. Subsequently, he had a number of careers, including running an advertising agency, wildcatting for oil and logging at the Columbia Sawmill. He is most known for his book Three Magic Words (1954), which has been linked to the New Age philosophical concept of the law of attraction. His short story Turn Ever so Quickly was included in the anthology The Best American Short Stories of 1963. He died in September 1986 in Lincoln City, Oregon.