David Niven Biography, Life, Interesting Facts


David Niven

Birthday :

March 1, 1910

Died On :

July 29, 1983

Also Known For :

Movie Actor

Birth Place :

London, England, United Kingdom

Zodiac Sign :


David Niven was a British actor who started in some film roles.  David Niven may be best known for his roles as the Pink Panther detective.

Childhood And Early Life

David Niven was born on March 1, 1910, in London, EnglandDavid Niven was born into a military family as his father William and both of his grandfathers were in the army.  William died during World War I in 1915.  Young Niven's mother remarried in 1917 to Sir Thomas Comyn-Platt.  David Niven was a prankster as a child and was often in trouble.



David Niven attended Heatherdown Preparatory School. David Niven was expelled from the elite school for his prankster behavior.  David Niven later went to Stowe School.  After that, David Niven attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.  Upon graduation in 1930 David Niven was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the British Army.


Rise To Stardom

Even though he was active on assignment with the army, Niven was not happy.  David Niven was assigned to the Highland Light Infantry for two years in Malta and was promoted to lieutenant.  However, his lack of interest in the career and his mischief did not make him desirable in this field for much longer. 

David Niven quit the army, traveled for about a year, then sought fame in Hollywood in 1934.  After some struggles gaining parts, David Niven found small roles.  One of those roles was an Able-Bodied Seaman in the 1935 film Mutiny on the Bounty.  Film producer Samuel Goldwyn noticed him and signed him on.



David Niven's career was slowly taking off with more credited and supporting roles including films such as Rose-Marie, Dodsworth, Charge of the Light Brigade, and The Prisoner of Zenda.  Leading roles came soon after including films such as The Dawn Patrol, Three Blind Mice, and Wuthering Heights.  

When Great Britain declared war on Germany, David Niven returned to active military duty.  In 1940, David Niven was recommissioned as a lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade.  David Niven was involved in the Invasion of Normandy.  When the war ended, he earned the rank of lieutenant-colonel. With the war over, David Niven returned to acting.  David Niven continued his streak of leading roles in films in the 1940s such as A Matter of Life and Death, The Bishop's Wife, and Enchantment.  

The 1950s were also a good decade for his career.  David Niven had the lead role in Around the World in 80 Days and Separate Tables.  The latter film was the one that earned him an Academy Award.  David Niven was also appearing or playing roles in TV series. From 1952-1956 he was on 33 episodes of Four Star Playhouse.  From 1957-1958, Niven had some roles in Alcoa Theatre.   

In the 1960s, David Niven acted along other powerhouse actors of the time including Peter Sellers, Gregory Peck, and Anthony Quinn.  David Niven could be seen in films like The Guns of Navarone, The Pink Panther, and Where the Spies Are.  He also portrayed the legendary James Bond 007 in the 1967 Casino Royale. The 1970s also proved to be busy for Niven though he was well into his 60s.  David Niven had to lead and supporting roles in a variety of films such as Old Dracula, The Canterville Ghost TV movie, and Death on the Nile

David Niven even worked with up-and-coming young actors such as Jodie Foster in Candleshoe.  In the 1980s David Niven returned to his role as Sir Charles Litton in Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther.

David Niven did write over the course of his life.  Out of the four books he wrote, his 1971 autobiography The Moon's a Ballon and 1981 novel Go Slowly, Come Back Quickly were more successful. His autobiography was accounts from other people's lives including co-stars Cary Grant.  The 1981 novel was based on his experiences in World War II.  His final book was incomplete due to his death.


Personal Life And Legacy

David Niven married Primula Susan Rollo in 1940 after a two-week romance.  The couple had two sons.  She died in 1946 in a bizarre accident in which she fell down a flight of stairs into the cellar.  Niven later married Swedish fashion model Hjördis Paulina Tersmeden.  The two adopted two daughters.

David Niven died on July 29, 1983, in Château-d'Œx, Switzerland at the age of 73.  David Niven left a legacy of a British gentleman in film and television.



David Niven was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease in 1981.  It ultimately led to his death two years later.

Awards And Achievements  

•    Two-time Primetime Emmy Awards nominee, Best Actor and Best Continuing Performance by an Actor, Four Star Playhouse, 1952
•    Golden Globe Award, Best Actor in a Motion Picture, The Moon is Blue, 1953
•    Academy Award, Best Actor, Separate Tables, 1959
•    Golden Globe Award, Best Actor – Drama, Separate Tables, 1959
•    New York Film Critics Circle Award, Best Actor, Separate Tables, 1958
•    Two Stars on the Walk of Fame, Motion Picture and Television, 1960

Summary Of Major Works

Film And Television:

•    The Dawn Patrol (1938)
•    Two Blind Mice (1938)
•    Wuthering Heights (1939)
•    A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
•    The Bishop's Wife (1947)
•    Enchantment (1948)
•    Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
•    Separate Tables (1958)
•    The Guns of Navarone (1961)
•    The Pink Panther (1963)
•    Where the Spies Are (1965)
•    Casino Royale (1967)
•    Old Dracula (1974)
•    The Canterville Ghost TV movie (1975)
•    Candleshoe (1977)
•    Death on the Nile (1978)
•    Trail of the Pink Panther (1982)
•    Curse of the Pink Panther (1983)


•    The Moon's a Ballon autobiography (1971)
•    Go Slowly, Come Back Quickly novel (1981)

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