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June 14, 2022

35 Vintage Portrait Photos of a Young David Niven

Born 1910 in London, British actor David Niven found a role as an extra in the British film There Goes the Bride (1932) and had several small parts in films through 1935, including a non-speaking role in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s Mutiny on the Bounty. This brought him to wider attention within the film industry, catching the eye of Samuel Goldwyn and leading to a contract.

Parts in major motion pictures followed, including Dodsworth (1936), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), and The Prisoner of Zenda (1937). By 1938, Niven was starring as the leading man in ‘A’ films. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War, he returned to Britain and rejoined the army, being recommissioned as a lieutenant. In 1942, he co-starred in the morale-building film about the development of the Supermarine Spitfire fighter, The First of the Few (American title Spitfire), which was enthusiastically endorsed by Winston Churchill.

Niven resumed his acting career after his demobilization, and was voted the second-most popular British actor in the 1945 Popularity Poll of British film stars. He appeared in A Matter of Life and Death (1946), The Bishop’s Wife (1947), and Enchantment (1948), all of which received critical acclaim. He later appeared in The Elusive Pimpernel (1950), The Toast of New Orleans (1950), Happy Go Lovely (1951), Happy Ever After (1954), and Carrington V.C. (1955) before scoring a big success as Phileas Fogg in Michael Todd’s production of Around the World in 80 Days (1956).

Niven appeared in many shows for television and nearly 100 films. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as Major Pollock in Separate Tables (1958). He also began writing books, with considerable commercial success. In 1982, he appeared in Blake Edwards’ final Pink Panther films Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther, reprising his role as Sir Charles Lytton.

Niven died at his chalet in Château-d'Œx, Switzerland from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 1983, aged 73. Take a look at these vintage photos to see portraits of David Niven from between the 1930s and 1950s.


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