Niv: The Authorised Biography of David Niven

Niv: The Authorised Biography of David Niven

Graham Lord

Language: English

Pages: 448


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

For more than forty years, Niven portrayed on screen the impeccable values of a lost breed of English gentlemen - handsome, beautifully spoken, elegantly dressed, witty, with perfect manners and utterly charming. Niv, according to his friends, was much the same off-screen. Both men and women were enchanted by his charisma, humour and joie-de-vivre. In addition to winning an Oscar for Separate Tables (1958), Niven was a polished writer, and published two volumes of lighthearted autobiography: THE MOON'S A BALLOON (1972) and BRING ON THE EMPTY HORSES (1975). Yet behind those twinkling eyes, Niv's life was punctuated by tragedy and he was often deeply unhappy. From the death of his father when Niven was five, to his mother's neglect and the stepfather he loathed, through to the death of his beloved first wife and his volatile and disturbing marriage to his second wife, Hjordis, tragedy and hardship were never far away. Graham Lord, using new material from Niven's private papers, manuscripts, unpublished stories and correspondence, has written a fresh, revealing, funny and poignant portrait of a brave and brilliant man. Fully authorised by Niven's family and drawing from dozens of interviews with stars, from Lauren Bacall to Roger Moore and Sir John Mills, NIV: the Authorised Biography of David Niven is a fitting tribute to one of Hollywood's greatest heroes.

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was to be split into five payments, and Doubleday were never to earn even a fraction back, but all those noughts galvanised Niv into finishing it by the end of the year. He was now so worried about Hjördis’s drinking that he wrote to Belinda Willis, the wife of an old army comrade in Dorset who had beaten her own addiction, to ask her advice, but Hjördis refused to admit that she had a problem or to go for treatment. At the end of July Peter Sellers died of a heart attack, aged only fifty-four,

on the plane,’ Jamie wrote in You seven years afterwards, ‘and I later learned that he had regaled him with stories all during the trip. It is hard to imagine that a man could receive a death sentence and hours later amuse a fellow passenger with anecdotes. But then, that was David Niven. He always gave more to life than he got back from it, and he expected everyone else to do the same. In the car going into town he said, “You know, I have been very lucky, really. Your mother’s death has been the

baptised. Prince Rainier came, and Audrey Hepburn, who wept throughout the service, and Capucine, and hundreds of Press photographers, strangers, and almost every villager of Château d’Oex, where the shops were closed for the day in respect. And Kristina was convinced that her real mother was there too, heavily veiled to avoid recognition. ‘It was a lovely service, very moving,’ said Bolton, but ‘Hjördis was a nightmare,’ said Jamie. ‘She refused to have my brother and myself sit at the same pew

Roosevelt in August it was he who was chosen to act as the master of ceremonies on a radio programme that the British of Hollywood – Aherne, Colman, Flynn, Grant, Vivien Leigh and Olivier among them – put together as a loyal tribute to the royal couple. Niv loved filming Raffles. His co-star was the beautiful twenty-two-year-old Olivia de Havilland, who had appeared with him in The Charge of the Light Brigade and had just played Melanie Hamilton in Gone With the Wind. He was pampered constantly

Paris, despite his love for Primmie, Niv began an affair with the leading French film star Yvette Le Bon, I was told by Martine Fields, who was then an eighteen-year-old French girl and was picked up by Niv in a Paris nightclub in September 1944. ‘We nice, pretty-pretty young girls of good family were part of something called the Rainbow Corner, where our object was to take out Allied officers,’ she said, ‘and one day I was assigned to take out a boring Canadian and we went to the ’44, a very

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