Cover image for Niv : the authorized biography of David Niven
Niv : the authorized biography of David Niven
Lord, Graham, 1943-
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2004.

Physical Description:
xiv, 370 pages : illustrations (some color), portraits ; 25 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London : Orion Media, 2003.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
PN2598.N5 L67 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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For more than 40 years, David Niven portrayed onscreen the impeccable values of a lost breed of English gentlemen - handsome, elegantly dressed, well-mannered, and utterly charming. Yet behind those twinkling eyes, Niven was often deeply unhappy. From the death of his father when Niven was five, his mother's neglect and the stepfather who loathed him, to the death of his beloved first wife and his volatile marriage to his second wife, tragedy and hardship were never far away. Using new material from Niven's private papers, manuscripts, unpublished stories and correspondence, Lord has written a touching account of one of Hollywood's greatest heroes.

Author Notes

Graham Lord was for twenty-three years the literary editor and weekly books columnist at the Sunday Express.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

How do you write a biography of a film star whose memoirs are already considered among the best the genre has to offer? Lord, former editor of London's Sunday Express, begins by pointing out that the tales in Niven's books were frequently exaggerated, if not outright fiction, then sets out to gently correct the record. The real story is filled with absorbing details, particularly when Lord recounts the young Niven's struggle to make it in Hollywood and his varied military career during WWII. But as the "authorized" biographer of Niven (1910-1983), Lord is often overly sympathetic to the actor, most notably when the subject turns to "Niv's" second marriage to a Swedish model. Lord and his interviewees repeatedly attack the wife for alcoholism, extramarital affairs and an allegedly ridiculous desire to be an actress, while shrugging off Niven's constant womanizing and heavy drinking. Other unsavory aspects of his personality, like his treatment of his book publishers, are similarly glossed over. It's worth noting, however, that an overwhelming number of Niven's films are described as among his worst; even The Pink Panther is surprisingly dismissed as "dreadfully unfunny." Yet such harsh critical assessments do little to diminish Niven in his biographer's eyes, and the star's reputation as a lovable raconteur remains untarnished, even by the truth. Photos. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Niven epitomized the suave, cocksure gentleman. A former soldier, he was funny, talented, and charming. Lord's is a clear, revealing book, if a bit reverential. Readers will learn that Niven was a study in contrasts: his voracious appetite for women belied his deep love of his first wife (who died after a tragic accident). A talented memoirist and a big-time drinker, Niven had that most desireable dude trait-complexity-in spades.-Douglas C. Lord, Connecticut State Lib., Middletown (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Illustrationsp. ix
Prefacep. xiii
1 'The Most Poisonous Little Bastard' 1910-1923p. 1
2 The Making of an English Gentleman 1923-1928p. 16
3 Sandhurst and the Hairy-Legged Irish 1928-1933p. 34
4 A Swordsman in Hollywood 1933-1937p. 56
5 A Circus Going on Inside 1937-1939p. 86
6 The WAAF, Phantom and SHAEF 1939-1945p. 101
7 The Widower and the Model 1945-1949p. 131
8 Skating on Thin Ice 1949-1955p. 163
9 Around and on Top of the World 1955-1959p. 187
10 Chateau d'Oex and the Cote d'Azur 1959-1962p. 205
11 Shampoo, Beakers and Fernet Branca 1962-1969p. 222
12 The Moon's a Balloon 1969-1972p. 253
13 The Grumpy Bestseller 1972-1977p. 270
14 'Wodehouse With Tears' 1977-1983p. 294
Postscript 1983-2003p. 333
Filmographyp. 340
Acknowledgements and Bibliographyp. 349
Indexp. 356