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

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9780060154707: The Other Side of the Moon: The Life of David Niven

‘A highly readable work ... Niven emerges as gallant and gracious.’ Chicago Tribune

Sheridan Morley wrote this biography of the consummate on-screen English gentleman after speaking to over 150 of Niven’s friends and colleagues (only Rex Harrison refused). The result is a picture which both supports and contradicts the charming vagabond persona depicted in Niven’s own bestselling memoirs.

While millions throughout his life were enchanted by Niven’s happy-go-lucky charisma and world-class anecdotage, he was in many respects a private figure, haunted by a fear of failure, and a victim of several key tragedies in his personal life. Morley’s biography is a warm, appreciative but perceptive account which captures both sides of one of Hollywood’s most enduringly lovable figures.

‘A compassionate account that goes past the blithe persona ... yet, there is much humor—the actor’s and his biographer’s—in this notable book’ Publishers Weekly

‘Head and shoulders above the average showbiz biography ... He understands many of Niven’s deeper feelings’ John Mortimer, Sunday Times

‘A well-told story ... the darker side as well as the mask of a complex and perhaps desperate character. He was a life-enhancer off-screen as well as on’ The Times

‘Shrewd and pleasing; shows how dark Niven’s moon could be’ Alexander Walker, Evening Standard

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About the Author:

Sheridan Morley (1941-2007) was the third generation of a celebrated theatrical family. His father was Robert Morley, the character actor, and his grandmother was Gladys Cooper, in her youth one of the great beauties of her day and a much sought-after actor in Britain and Hollywood. Sheridan was also a cousin of the actress and presenter Joanna Lumley and brother-in-law of the actor Robert Hardy.

Morley joined The Times as deputy features editor in 1973, and then Punch in 1975 as drama critic and arts editor, remaining with the magazine until 1989. In the late 1980s, he became a regular arts diarist for The Times and was its TV critic from 1989 to 1990. He worked as drama critic for the Spectator from 1990 to 2001, and after a short period at the New Statesman, he joined the Daily Express in 2004.

He married his first wife, Margaret Gudejko, in 1965, and they had three children together. He married his second wife, Ruth Leon, in 1995.

He authored a number of books including A Talent to Amuse: A Life of Noel Coward (1969); Gladys Cooper (1979); The Hollywood Raj (1983), The Other Side of the Moon: The Life of David Niven (1985), Odd Man Out: James Mason (1989) and Robert: My Father (1993). These are now all republished by Dean Street Press.

From Publishers Weekly:

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
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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