I have had the pleasure of seeing two movies with the very very handsome David Niven. Wuthering Heights and The Charge of the Light Brigade, 2 wonderful old MGM films.
I do realize Laurence Olivier and Errol Flynn (respectively) were the ‚featured male players‘, but Niven just suddenly GOT my attention. Very smooth, suave, and I don’t know, just a Gentleman. Very sexy and beguiling.
Read his two books – ‚The Moon’s a Balloon‘ and ‚Bring on the Empty Horses‘
I love him dearly, and find it sad that his star is comparatively fading.
I second the recommendation to read his autobiographies. They were very entertaining.
I think there’s a guy who posts on the DL who knew David Niven. Maybe he will be involved in this thread.
Total pussy hound. Seriously. Cheated on his first wife with every woman he could. He was heart broken when she died after falling down a flight of stairs. Loved her dearly, but was completely incapable of being faithful.
Didn’t she fall down the stairs at a party they were having?
They were at a party and playing a game in the dark when the accident happened.
Niven’s books are a lot of fun. Just keep in mind that he was a wonderful storyteller who didn’t mind playing fast and loose with some facts if it made the story better. And good for him.
David Niven was straight. If he were an actor today everyone would assume he were gay because we have been conditioned to believe that very sophisticated, smart British guys like George Saunders – also straight – are gay.
His dad was killed in the first world war, when he was very young. His mother was uncaring and sent him off to full time boarding school when he was seven (where he was sexually abused). He was also a war hero but he never spoke about it. then his wife dies falling down some stairs at a party, leaving him with two small sons, Jeez, good luck to him. I hope he got his leg over as often as he wanted.
I had also assumed he was en famille. Typical example of a British actor giving off a false ping, I guess.
>>>smart British guys like George Saunders – also straight – are gay.
George Sanders of All About Eve fame is officially classified as "bisexual," which meant, in his case, a closeted gay, r10.
Much married actor James Mason was more or less outed in Arthur Laurents‘ book. Another "straight" English actor with a male traveling companion.
His take on the ’sexual abuse‘ was rather casual and nonchalant. He seemed to think it was no big deal and he got some toys out of the deal.
r13… who’s being presumptious by declaring all sophisticated suave British men as gay by using two actors as an argument?
R17, R10 named gay actor George Sanders straight. That needed to be corrected along with the correct spelling of his name.
Fuck Sanders, Olivier and Niven own the slightly fey suave British archetype. There is no debate on Niven, but some serious discussion about Olivier (who I think is a true bisexual).
Whether he was gay or not, he was absolutely charming. My parents met him at a party back in the ’60s and said he was extremely witty and charismatic, and they were not people in the industry or someone that he would have felt necessary to schmooze.
>>>Olivier (who I think is a true bisexual).
First, he’s dead. Second, I think he was a homo posing as straight like most gays of his generation. True bisexual orientation must be a fraction of a fraction of a percent, although most straights want to believe that 90% of gay are bi because it makes them feel good.
Candleshoe is lovely enough – an unsung treasure. Do the Pink Panther films and go backward.
I will. Going to star with Pink Panther. I won’t let the new pink panther movies get in my way.
English actors – well what can I say. I knew Alan Bates personally – only as a gay man. He was married with two children. I never asked how they were conceived. He was sweet, smart, a wonderful man…
I would start with SEPARATE TABLES, the film for which Niven won his Academy Award. Plus it has Burt Lancaster looking yummers, and best of all, it has the radiant, beautiful, heartbreaking Wendy Hiller.
Actually, I don’t think it’s Niven’s best, but any excuse to see Lancaster is not to be sneezed at.
Yes, you are dears! And how nice of Debbie not to rekindle her Burt lust and steal him away from both Wendy and Rite!
Peter Ustinov was David Niven’s batman (the military equivalent of a valet) in WWII.
Niven died of Lou Gehrig’s disease — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
His autobiographies are great fun, even though he said nothing bad about anyone — seems like a truly nice guy.
Olivier was a "true" bisexual. He had a tempestuous relationship with Vivien Leigh (who had a serious sexual addiction…a facet of her bipolar illness), and he was married to two other women (granted, his first wife–with whom he had a son named Tarquin–was a lesbian). His last marriage to actress Joan Plowright endured until his death. He also, however, had a long relationship with comedian Danny Kaye which ended only when Plowright gave Olivier an ultimatum to end the affair or divorce her.
He claimed his second wife brought a dose of chlamydia home with her from JFK.
As noted, the autobiographies are great. The demented actress "Missy" in one of them is supposedly Vivien Leigh.
His biography by Graham Lord is worth flipping through if you’re interested. The details of his second marriage was horrific. And of specific interest to DL is his enormous penis, also discussed in the biography.
I will check out his books and look at more films with him.
He plays a perv in "Separate Tables". I think he either jerks off in movies theater or "exposes" himself to "unsuspecting women".
Primula "Primmie" Niven, his first wife, died just weeks after moving to Hollywood while playing hide-and-seek at a party at Tyone Power’s house. She went through a door believing it was a closet she could hide in, and it was actually a door to a stone staircase leading to the basement.
[quote]He plays a perv in "Separate Tables". I think he either jerks off in movies theater or "exposes" himself to "unsuspecting women".
It will come as no surprise that in the original Terrence Rattigan play the character picks up young boys in movie theatres.
R30, Janet Gaynor was a lesbian who married several men, and her marriage to famed clothing designer fairy Adrian "lasted until his death" too.
Gaynor’s last marriage was to the very homosexual Adrian, whereas Olivier was married to the very heterosexual Joan Plowright: it most likely indicates BISEXUALITY in Olivier’s case.
Niven was okay but his performances lacked gravity and strong presence. A likeable lightweight, I’m afraid, no matter how polished he was. Something lacking there.
I think it was Mae West who said, "David Niven had charm where other men only had cologne."
I think R39 gets it right. Good actor, but lacking some gravitas.
[quote]I have had the pleasure of seeing two movies with the very very handsome David Niven. Wuthering Heights and The Charge of the Light Brigade, 2 wonderful old MGM films.
Not that it matters OP, but neither of these two films was produced or distributed by MGM. Wuthering Heights was produced by The Samuel Goldwyn Company and distributed by United Artists. Light Brigade was a classic Warner Bros. film, starring two of their biggest contract players at the time, and directed by one of their finest directors, Michael Curtiz.
Just because a movie is old, doesn’t mean MGM made it.
"En famille" does not mean "pregnant." It means "at home," or "in a casual way."
Yikes, I stand corrected R42. I the VHS cover had "MGM/UA Home Video it for this was the producing studio. Also, I returned Wuthering Heights to my friend and I assumed MGM made that one also.
I still go under that classic movie rule that if a studio’s name is on it, it their property.
Yes, times have changed; will time machine forward to the 21st century.
I would agree Niven does not overwhelm a scene, but in Wuthering Heights he did not have a moustache, and looked so young and classy, I could not stop thinking about him.
I thought he was great in "Separate Tables." Especially that scene where he’s been busted and is in excruciating discomfort waiting among the others before he can leave the hotel.
I’ve seen the film twice, being very surprised how brief the scene was on the second viewing. The first time I watched it I could have sworn it went on forever. That’s how palpable his distress was to me
When an actor has as much charm as Niven, he doesn’t need gravitas.
Really, actors who are masters of light material seem to be much less common than good dramatic actors. Is there any equivalent to Niven or Cary Grant among today’s actors?
Interesting career trajectory as he was really a solid supporting player through the late 1930s and well into the 40s and only became a superb leading man after more than 10 years in Hollywood.
I first fell in love with him as a kid when he portrayed Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days.
People just don’t have doors like that on their basements any more, do they?
Probably his best film is ‚A Matter of Life and Death‚.
[quote]"En famille" does not mean "pregnant." It means "at home," or "in a casual way."
Only if you are applying it an event, i.e. Supper �en famille� a party �en famille�
If you apply it to an individual you are saying that they are pregnant.
Yes, you English are always stealing from superior cultures!
He was married to her thirty or forty years, and his autobiographies gave the impression he was happy enough. What’s all this about nightmares and bitchery?
>>Gaynor’s last marriage was to the very homosexual Adria
R38, Gaynor married at AGAIN after Adrian, it wasn’t her last marriage; I think there were two more after that. In fact, when Janet was injured in that car crash with her lover, Mary Martin, in San Fran in 1982, her then husband was one of the passengers!
Yes R53. While you French steal things like Jerry Lewis
I always found him irresistably sexy. Did any of his many kids go into show biz?
"Probably his best film is ‚A Matter of Life and Death‘."
It’s his best film and one of the best films, period.
I wondered why no one was mentioning it — I knew the film as "Stairway to Heaven" not "Matter of Life or Death."
It’s brilliant movie if you’re stoned, not sure how it is clear headed.
Nivens 2nd wife was an alcoholic and if an account I read is to be belived she was an absolute bitch to his two sons. She eventually adopted two girls with David after she couldn’t concieve after which the two boys might as well have not existed. In her defence she did have to put up with a husband who fucked everything female that moved.
I love him dearly, and find it sad that his star is comparatively fading.
So true. Today, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire ended Newlywed Week. The question was who played the father in the original movie Father of the Bride. The choices were James Stewart, Monty Clift, Bing Crosby or Spencer Tracy. The newlyweds had to use their phone-a-friend. Her mom was 100% sure it was Spencer Tracy.
David Niven hosted the AFI tribute to Astaire. Suave all the way.
MURDER BY DEATH: my fav role for him and he was paired with the wonderful Maggie Smith (doing a takeoff on Nick and Nora Charles characters). It’s worth seeing the film just for them. A great pairing, and the lightweight role perfectly suited him.
Another vote for his memoirs, all of them. Very careful what he says about certain people – he will lie outright rather than out someone, even if that person is long dead – but an enjoyable storyteller, just like Peter Ustinov was. David Niven could spin a yarn and yet not divulge a secret.
He was supposedly a kept man when he first appeared in Hollywood, for instance, one lover keeping him was Merle Oberon during WUTHERING HEIGHTS.
He came to Hollywood with a Letter of Introduction addressed to Fred Astaire.
Like R48, I read his memoirs while in my teens, and just loved them. He always seemed like such a classy guy.
I can’t believe no one’s mentioned his famous throwaway after the streaker struck during his hosting of the Oscars: "Isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?"
David Niven will be remembered by that infamous streaker incident.
I was in love with both Niven and Anthony Quayle after seeing them in the Guns of Navarone when I was a kid. Never had the pleasure of meeting Niven, but got to meet the very dashing Douglas Fairbanks Jr in the mid-70s. He was very suave and charismatic!
[quote]Really, actors who are masters of light material seem to be much less common than good dramatic actors. Is there any equivalent to Niven or Cary Grant among today’s actors?
I always got a lost generation vibe from Cary Grant and David Niven – as if their characters had been through so much already that any plot point could only be viewed as a diversion.
[quote]I wondered why no one was mentioning it — I knew the film as "Stairway to Heaven" not "Matter of Life or Death."
The DVD is expensive and there are no digital downloads available. I think it’s one of those movies you have to catch on cable.
Yes – and down the stairs, R69 – I do believe BBC made a series about their relationship!
The theme song was a series of screams intermingled with thuds and a huge crashing noise at the end.
I could never figure out how it lasted as long as it did.
what it’s like playing cary grant, on acid
Ninety years ago, future screen legend Cary Grant shared a Greenwich Village love nest with an Australian man who went on to win three Oscars.
That’s the provocative claim in “Women He’s Undressed,’’ a new documentary about celebrated costume designer Orry-Kelly (released Aug. 9 on DVD and video on demand) that adds a tantalizing new chapter to decades of speculation about Grant’s sexuality.
Between the film and Kelly’s recently published, long-suppressed memoir “Women I’ve Undressed,’’ a vivid portrait emerges of Grant as an ambitious young immigrant vaudevillian who reinvented himself so thoroughly, he ended up denying his true self in a homophobic industry.
“There was such a pressure to conform to what was considered an ordinary, normal life,’’ the documentary’s noted Australian director, Gillian Armstrong, told Out Magazine last year, referring to Grant’s four failed marriages to women. “Orry refused to hide his sexuality with a fake marriage. He had such a great sense of personal integrity, and we wanted to capture that sense of bravery in the film.’’
Kelly, who was seven years older, writes in his memoir that he met the struggling performer Archibald Leach — who would change his name to Cary Grant in 1931 — just before his 21st birthday in January 1925.
Leach had been evicted from a boarding house for nonpayment, and had turned up at Kelly’s artist’s studio at 21 Commerce St. in the West Village with a tin box containing all his worldly possessions. He promptly moved in with Kelly.
“It was a city of bachelors,’’ film historian William J. Mann says in the documentary, arguing that Kelly and Leach were definitely a couple. “You were surrounded by men who were openly living in ways you couldn’t imagine back home.’’
Kelly says in his book that Leach was suffering from an unspecified illness during their first few months of cohabitation, and he paid the younger man’s doctor bills. The “devastatingly handsome” Leach, who had come to America from his native England as a teenager as part of a stilt-walking troupe, was barely scraping by, working occasionally as a carnival barker in Coney Island and donning a threadbare suit as a paid escort for women while seeking work in vaudeville.
Kelly, who was painting murals for speakeasies and trying to break into show business as a set designer, had developed a lucrative sideline of hand-made ties — and Leach volunteered to stencil on designs and sell them backstage at vaudeville houses for a cut of the action.
Branching out a couple of years later, the two men briefly ran their own speakeasy in Manhattan — and had an even more short-lived casino in Nevada before they were shut down by gangsters who demanded money to spare their lives.
Kelly’s memoirs, and the documentary, chronicle his volatile, on-and-off relationship with the actor over three decades. While Kelly stops short of claiming that Leach was his boyfriend — something the documentary states outright — Kelly leaves a clear impression of someone whose heart was broken many times.
He was clearly annoyed with Leach’s obsession with blond women, “though he always comes home to me.’’ And Kelly describes being knocked out cold by Archie “for three hours’’ when he criticized his roommate for ignoring his vaudeville guests (including Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen) at a party while trying to persuade Charlie Chaplin’s sister-in-law to help him arrange a screen test.
“The physical violence between the men [was] not uncommon between homosexual men of the period,’’ Katherine Thompson, the documentary’s writer, told The Post. “A combination of self-loathing and confusion was manifested in a punch-up or, on another occasion, Grant throwing Kelly out of a moving vehicle.’’
By 1931, both men were pursuing their destiny in Hollywood — the newly renamed Cary Grant had been signed to a $350-a-week contract by Paramount, while Kelly had begun a 12-year tenure as the head of the Warner Bros. costume department, eventually designing Ingrid Bergman’s famous wardrobe for “Casablanca.” They shared quarters again for a few weeks in Tinseltown, enjoying 65-cent drugstore dinners every night.
But there were an increasing number of arguments over the newly christened Grant’s women — and the actor’s demand that Kelly reimburse him $365 for meals and boxing-match tickets that he kept track of in a little red book. Kelly paid off the bills and suggested that Grant move in with another handsome young Paramount contractee, Randolph Scott.
The debate over whether the former Archie Leach was gay, bi or straight has centered for decades around his on-and-off cohabitation with Scott in a beach house in Malibu, which was documented in a famous series of still photographs of them in domestic poses.
When Grant married actress Virginia Cherrill in 1934, Mann says in the documentary, Scott attempted suicide. They were living together again after the end of Grant’s marriage in 1935, and re-reunited once more after Scott’s first marriage (1936-1939) to a duPont heiress ended. (Grant’s 1942 application for US citizenship lists him and Scott — who signs as a witness — as living at the same address.) Around this time, Grant threatened to sue gossip columnist Hedda Hopper for implying he wasn’t “normal.’’ (And in 1980, he actually brought a defamation suit against comedian Chevy Chase, who was forced to issue a retraction of his joking reference to Grant as a “homo.’’)
Grant and Kelly, meanwhile, had drifted apart. “He was adjusting to the mask of Cary Grant,’’ Kelly writes. “A mask that became his career, a career that became Grant.’’
The two crossed paths in 1941, when Grant made “Arsenic and Old Lace’’ at Warner Bros.
“There was quite a bit of tension between the two,’’ Mann says in the documentary. “One day, the radio show ‘Queen for a Day’ had sent a limousine to the studio lot with [its title] emblazoned on its side. Cary turned to Orry and said, ‘Orry, your limo has arrived.’ This was a real low blow from Cary Grant, with whom he had an intimate personal relationship.’’
Kelly had a drinking problem that eventually cost him his job at Warner and landed him in rehab — but he made a remarkable comeback that netted him Oscars for “An American in Paris’’ (1951), “Les Girls’’ (1957) and “Some Like it Hot’’ (1959), for which he designed unforgettable dresses for Marilyn Monroe.
Grant re-entered Kelly’s life in the late 1950s, when he asked if he could visit Kelly’s studio to purchase some paintings as gifts.
Kelly’s book implies that Grant (who Kelly says visited on multiple occasions) was more interested in discouraging Kelly from writing about their relationship — and the film says Grant may have used his influence to block the publication of Kelly’s memoir. (The manuscript was discovered in a pillow case at an Australian relative’s home in 2014 while the documentary was in production; it is available only as an audio book in the US.)
“Cary always told me, ‘Tell them nothing,’ ” Kelly writes. “I don’t know why. There was never really anything to hide.’’
But the cheeky Aussie ends his book with a devastating anecdote about the notoriously cheap Grant. At the time of their final reunion, Kelly was designing costumes for “Auntie Mame’’ (1957) starring Rosalind Russell, Grant’s co-star in “His Girl Friday’’ (1940) and a close friend.
After he and Grant lunched together, they drove over to Russell’s dressing room on the Warner Bros. lot.
“I mentioned his beautiful Rolls Royce outside, and Cary remarked that he had another, just like it, in London. ‘By the way, aren’t you going to London?’ he asked [Russell].
“Roz said, ‘Yes, I’m going over in ten days.’ ‘Why don’t you use my Rolls,’ Cary said.”
Russell was thrilled until Grant added: “I tell you what to do Roz, when you arrive in London, call … my agents. They will give you the rental fee and the cost of the chauffeur.’’
Kelly says there are “too many instances where Cary Grant’s old friends had been disappointed by him.’’ He quotes Russell as saying, “He flits around, hiding from his own shadow, hoping nobody will notice, or [worries] that his shadow may expose the image he has created for himself.’’
The former Archie Leach never publicly acknowledged his relationship with Kelly — but when his old friend died of liver cancer in 1964, Grant was one of the pallbearers. He retired from acting two years later, when his only child was born from his fourth marriage to actress Dyan Cannon.
The enigmatic superstar was five years into his fifth and final marriage when he died, 30 years ago this November. Randolph Scott, whose second marriage endured 43 years and produced two children, died two months later.