The Other Side of the Moon: The Life of David Niven

Sheridan Morley, Author HarperCollins Publishers $18.45 (300p) ISBN 978-0-06-015470-7
The title is a play on David Niven's first bestseller, The Moon's a Balloon, a memoir that Morley maintains tells about other people, not the actor himself. With help from Niven's friends and professional associates, the distinguished biographer (Gertrude Lawrence, etc.) has written a compassionate account that goes past the blithe persona Niven presented, into his failings, disappointments and tragedies. Born in London in 1910, the future suave performer tempted expulsion with schoolboy devilry; he later served in the British army before emigrating to the U.S. His film career started in 1934 and lasted nearly to his death in 1983, but he failed to achieve ""stardom.'' The terrible sorrow of Niven's life was the death of his wife Primula, killed in a fall during her 20s when their sons were babies. His second marriage, to a Swedish model, was unhappy. There were other romantic involvements in Niven's life and many facets to his career that Morley reveals. During World War II, for instance, he gave up Hollywood and returned to his homeland to fight for England; he was self-seeking and so afraid of poverty that throughout his career he accepted demeaning parts in many movies. The moon's other side was darkest at the end when Niven succumbed to sclerosis, the Lou Gehrig disease. And yet, there is much humorthe actor's and his biographer'sin this notable book. Photos. 25,000 first printing; author tour. October 30
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
Hardcover - 978-1-55504-126-7
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