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Subject: ARCHIVE: July 29, 1983 ~David Niven, British-born Hollywood star, memoirist and novelist, known for his colorful memoirs of his near-50 year Hollywood film career, earning a 'Best Actor' Academy Award for 1958's "Separate Tables", dies from ALS at 73. ...
British actor, memoirist and novelist, his many roles included Squadron Leader Peter Carter in A Matter of Life and Death, Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days, and Sir Charles Lytton ("the Phantom") in The Pink Panther. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Separate Tables (1958).
Born in London, Niven attended Heatherdown Preparatory School and Stowe before gaining a place at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. After Sandhurst, he joined the British Army and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Highland Light Infantry. Having developed an interest in acting, he left the army, travelled to Hollywood and had several minor roles in film. He first appeared as an extra in the British film There Goes the Bride (1932). From there, he hired an agent and had several small parts in films from 1933 to 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 and he was spotted by Samuel Goldwyn. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War, Niven 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 demobilisation, 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) with Cary Grant, and Enchantment (1948), all of which received critical acclaim. Niven 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 nearly a hundred films, and many shows for television. 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.
Illness and death …
In 1980, Niven began experiencing fatigue, muscle weakness, and a warble in his voice.
His 1981 interviews on the talk shows of Michael Parkinson and Merv Griffin alarmed family
and friends; viewers wondered if Niven had either been drinking or suffered a stroke. … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiYWQ1IUr6I
He blamed his slightly slurred voice on the shooting schedule on the film he had been making, Better Late Than Never. He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or "Lou Gehrig's disease" in the US, or "motor neurone disease" (MND) in the UK), later that year. His final appearance in Hollywood was hosting the 1981 American Film Institute tribute to Fred Astaire.
In February 1983, using a false name to avoid publicity, Niven was hospitalized for 10 days, ostensibly for a digestive problem. Afterwards, he returned to his chalet at Château-d'Œx. His condition continued to decline, but he refused to return to the hospital, and his family supported his decision. He died at his chalet from ALS on 29 July 1983 aged 73, the same day as Raymond Massey his co-star in The Prisoner of Zenda and A Matter of Life and Death. Niven's body was buried in Château-d'Œx cemetery, Switzerland. …