David Niven

Actor, Author, Comic
Handsome, debonair leading man David Niven was the very essence of "good breeding" throughout his career, though the screen never quite captured his actual vigor, epitomized by his service in first the Highland Light ... Read more »
Born: 02/28/1910 in London, England, GB

Filmography

Actor (78)

The Forbidden Desert of the Danakil 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Narrator

Better Late Than Never 1983 (Movie)

Nick Cartland (Actor)

Trail of the Pink Panther 1982 (Movie)

Sir Charles Litton (Actor)

Rough Cut 1980 (Movie)

Chief Inspector Cyril Willis (Actor)

A Man Called Intrepid 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

Escape to Athena 1979 (Movie)

Professor Blake (Actor)

The Sea Wolves 1979 (Movie)

Colonel Bill Grice (Actor)

Death on the Nile 1978 (Movie)

Colonel Race (Actor)

Candleshoe 1976 (Movie)

Priory (Actor)

David Niven's World 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

No Deposit, No Return 1976 (Movie)

J W Osborne (Actor)

Murder By Death 1975 (Movie)

Dick Charleston (Actor)

Old Dracula 1975 (Movie)

Count Dracula (Actor)

Paper Tiger 1975 (Movie)

Walter Bradbury (Actor)

King, Queen, Knave 1971 (Movie)

Charles (Actor)

The Brain 1969 (Movie)

The Brain (Actor)

The Statue 1969 (Movie)

Alex (Actor)

Before Winter Comes 1968 (Movie)

Major Giles Burnside (Actor)

Prudence and the Pill 1968 (Movie)

Gerald Hardcastle (Actor)

The Extraordinary Seaman 1968 (Movie)

Lieutenant Commander Finchhaven (Actor)

Casino Royale 1967 (Movie)

Sir James Bond (Actor)

Lady L 1966 (Movie)

Lord Lendale (Actor)

Eye of the Devil 1965 (Movie)

Philippe (Actor)

The Rogues 1964 - 1965 (TV Show)

Actor

Bedtime Story 1964 (Movie)

Lawrence Jamison (Actor)

The Pink Panther 1964 (Movie)

Sir Charles Lytton (Actor)

55 Days at Peking 1963 (Movie)

Sir Arthur Robertson (Actor)

The Captive City 1961 (Movie)

Maj Peter Whitfield (Actor)

The Guns of Navarone 1961 (Movie)

Miller (Actor)

The June Allyson Show 1959 - 1961 (TV Show)

Actor

Please Don't Eat the Daisies 1960 (Movie)

Lawrence Mackay (Actor)

Schlitz Playhouse of Stars 1951 - 1959 (TV Show)

Actor

Ask Any Girl 1958 (Movie)

Miles Doughton (Actor)

Bonjour Tristesse 1958 (Movie)

Raymond (Actor)

Happy Anniversary 1958 (Movie)

Chris Walters (Actor)

Separate Tables 1958 (Movie)

Major Pollock (Actor)

Turn of Fate 1957 - 1958 (TV Show)

Actor

Four Star Playhouse 1952 - 1957 (TV Show)

Actor

My Man Godfrey 1957 (Movie)

Godfrey (Actor)

Oh, Men! Oh, Women! 1957 (Movie)

Dr Alan Coles (Actor)

The Little Hut 1957 (Movie)

Henry Brittingham-Brett (Actor)

Around the World in 80 Days 1956 (Movie)

Phileas Fogg (Actor)

The Birds and the Bees 1956 (Movie)

Colonel Harris (Actor)

Carrington V.C. 1955 (Movie)

Major Carrington VC (Actor)

The King's Thief 1955 (Movie)

Duke of Brampton (Actor)

Happy Ever After 1954 (Movie)

Jasper O'Leary (Actor)

Hollywood Opening Night 1950 - 1953 (TV Show)

Actor

The Nash Airflyte Theater 1950 - 1951 (TV Show)

Actor

Wuthering Heights 1939 (Movie)

Edgar (Actor)

Bachelor Mother 1938 (Movie)

David Merlin (Actor)

Eternally Yours 1938 (Movie)

(Actor)

Bluebeard's Eighth Wife 1937 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Prisoner of Zenda 1936 (Movie)

(Actor)

Dodsworth 1935 (Movie)

Major Clyde Lockert (Actor)

The Charge of the Light Brigade 1935 (Movie)

(Actor)

A Kiss in the Dark (Movie)

Eric Phillips (Actor)

Balloon Safari (TV Show)

Narrator

Beloved Enemy (Movie)

Gerald Preston (Actor)

Bonnie Prince Charlie (Movie)

Bonnie Prince Charlie (Actor)

Dinner at the Ritz (Movie)

Paul de Brack (Actor)

Enchantment (Movie)

Gen. Sir Roland Dane (Actor)

Four Men and a Prayer (Movie)

Christopher Leigh (Actor)

Happy Go Lovely (Movie)

B.G. Bruno (Actor)

Magnificent Doll (Movie)

Aaron Burr (Actor)

Palm Springs (TV Show)

Actor

Raffles (Movie)

A.J. Raffles (Actor)

Soldiers Three (Movie)

Capt. Pindenny (Actor)

The Dawn Patrol (Movie)

Lieut. Douglas Scott (Actor)

The First of the Few (Movie)

Geoffrey Crisp (Actor)

The Moon Is Blue (Movie)

David Slater (Actor)

The Other Love (Movie)

Dr. Anthony Stanton (Actor)

The Perfect Marriage (Movie)

Dale Williams (Actor)

The Real Glory (Movie)

Lieutenant McCool (Actor)

The Toast of New Orleans (Movie)

Jacques Riboudeaux (Actor)

The Way Ahead (Movie)

Lieutenant Jim Perry (Actor)

Biography

Handsome, debonair leading man David Niven was the very essence of "good breeding" throughout his career, though the screen never quite captured his actual vigor, epitomized by his service in first the Highland Light Infantry and later the Commandos, or his wit displayed as a writer of two novels and two amusing autobiographies. The son of a British Army captain, he followed in his father's footsteps but found the routine of military life between the wars so dreadfully boring that he resigned his commission and crossed the pond in search of adventure. Once in Hollywood, he worked as an extra and came to the attention of Samuel Goldwyn who signed him to a contract with MGM, and he rapidly graduated from bit parts to supporting and lead roles which showcased his polished British diction and his lighthearted yet sincere manner. Niven's first major success came with Edmund Goulding's "The Dawn Patrol" (1938), in which he played a courageous, devil-may-care WWI pilot friend of Errol Flynn.

Relationships

Lady Cmyn Niven

Mother

Hjördis Genberg

Wife
Married Jan. 14, 1948 until his death July 29, 1983

William Niven

Father
died at Gallipoli in 1915

Fiona Niven

Daughter
adopted with second wife Hjordis Niven

Kristina Niven

Daughter
adopted with second wife Hjordis Niven

David Niven

Son
born c. 1942 mother, Primula Niven

James Niven

Son
born c. 1946 works at Sotheby's mother, Primula Niven born shortly before mother's death

Primula Rollo

Wife
Married Sept. 16, 1940 until her accidental death May 21, 1946 when she fell down a flight of stairs at a dinner party while the guests were playing a "Hide and Seek" type of game

EDUCATION

Royal Military College

1927 - 1929

Stowe School

Buckinghamshire 1923 - 1926

Milestones

1983

Last film appearance in Edwards' "Curse of the Pink Panther"; cameo shot at same time as "Trail of the Pink Panther" (voice dubbed by Rich Little)

1982

Reprised his role as Sir Charles Litton for Edwards' "Trail of the Pink Panther"

1982

Acted in Bryan Forbes' "Better Late Than Never", produced by son David Niven Jr

1980

Returned to the other side of the law as Chief Inspector Cyril Willis in "Rough Cut", starring Burt Reynolds as a world-class jewel thief

1979

Cast as the Mastermind of a bank heist in "A Nightingale Sang in Berkely Square"

1977

Portrayed disguise-laden English butler in entertaining Disney comedy "Candleshoe"

1976

Appeared as part of the all-star cast of "Murder By Death", a spoof of such characters as Charlie Chan, Miss Marple and Sam Spade written by Neil Simon

1976

Ventured out as a granddad for Disney in "No Deposit, No Return"

1976

Narrated CBS documentary, "Balloon Safari"

1968

Third and last film with Thompson, "Before Winter Comes"

1967

Reteamed with Thompson for "Eye of the Devil"

1967

Played James Bond in John Huston's overdone spoof of the genre, "Casino Royale"

1964

Starred as Sir Charles Litton alongside Peter Sellers in Edwards' "The Pink Panther"

1961

First film with director J Lee Thompson, the explosive action film "The Guns of Navarone"

1960

Acted opposite Doris Day in "Please Don't Eat the Daisies"

1960

Left Hollywood; thereafter based in Europe

1959

Host and performer of "The David Niven Theater", a short-lived NBC series of original dramatic presentations

1958

Played playboy widowed father in Preminger's superb "Bonjour Tristesse", also starring Kerr

1958

Won Best Actor Oscar for his turn as an elderly disgraced military officer in "Separate Tables"; also starred Deborah Kerr, Rita Hayworth and Burt Lancaster

1956

Gained stardom as Phileas Fogg in "Around the World in 80 Days"

1956

Assets of Four Star bought by Official Films for $10 million

1953

Acted in Otto Preminger's "The Moon Is Blue" (adapted from the play)

1952

Aligned with Dick Powell, Charles Boyer and Ida Lupino to form Four Star, a television production company, becoming one of TV's first and most prolific stars

1952

Had three-month run in San Francisco stage production of "The Moon Is Blue"

1951

Sole Broadway appearance opposite Gloria Swanson in "Nina"

1950

Reteamed with Powell and Pressburger for "The Elusive Pimpernel"

1949

MGM contract terminated; freelanced thereafter

1946

Starred as WWII pilot who jumps out of his plane without a parachute and, after somehow surviving what should have been his death, must plead for his life before a heavenly court in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's "A Matter of Life and Death/Stair

1939

At outbreak of WWII, feeling obligated to return to military service, joined the Rifle Brigade, a Light Infantry Regiment in the British Army, working his way up to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Commandos; spent time in Normandy during the

1939

Unwillingly reteamed with Wyler (a director he deemed too dictatorial behind the camera) to play Edgar Litton, a part he felt was a bad one for any actor, in "Wuthering Heights"; initial refusal to appear in film nearly earned him a suspension from studio

1938

First major success in Edmund Goulding's "The Dawn Patrol" as WWI pilot buddy of Errol Flynn

1936

Acted in William Wyler's "Dodsworth", a superb adaptation of Sinclair Lewis' novel

1936

Loaned out to 20th Century-Fox for his first leading role in "Thank You, Jeeves"

1935

First speaking part in "Without Regrets"

1934

Moved to Hollywood and worked as movie extra, eventually coming to the atention of Samuel Goldwyn who signed him to MGM

1933

Had a bit part as a man at race course in British film "Eyes of Fate"

1933

Grew bored with the dull routine of military life; after a leave in NYC, returned to service but soon went AWOL, resigning his commission and moving first to Canada, then to NYC where he worked as a whiskey salesman

1930

Entered the Highland Light Infantry as a Second Lieutenant

Hosted and narrated "David Niven's World", a sydicated series of 21 documentary-style presentatons

Stationed for two years in Malta

Was both a producer and regular (with Powell, Boyer and Lupino) in "Four Star Playhouse", a CBS anthology series; first worked with director Blake Edwards in 1954 episode ("The Bomb")

Was regular on NBC series, "Turn of Fate"

Returned to series TV in "The Rogues" (NBC), playing British head of a family of con artists

Bonus Trivia

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The fruit of Four Star included such hits as "Zane Grey Theatre" (CBS, 1956-62), "The Rifleman" (ABC, 1958-63), "Burke's Law" (ABC, 1963-65) and "The Big Valley" (ABC, 1965-69).

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