David Niven lived a very fulfilling life. The British actor was best known for his performance in the Separate Tables in 1958. He also won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the film. But did you know how many lives he has touched? A group of porters held a remarkable memory of a famous man they encountered while working in the airport.
The largest funeral wreath in David Niven’s funeral was from the porters of Heathrow Airport. It came with a note saying, “To the finest gentleman who ever walked through these halls. He made a porter feel like a king”.
Who Was David Niven?
James David Graham Niven was born on March 1, 1910, in London, England. His parents, William Edward Graham Niven and Henrietta Julia Degacher were from long-time military families. William Niven, of Scottish descent, served in Berkshire Yeomanry during World War I and passed away in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. While Henrieta Degacher, of French and British ancestry, was a daughter of an army officer who married a daughter of an army officer. (Source: Walk Of Fame)
Niven was attended several schools before ending up in Stowe School in Buckinghamshire. He then went to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. Soon after, he became a lieutenant in the British Army and was sent to active duty in Malta in 1932.
Niven made his debut as an actor in 1935, playing a minor role in Splendor and Rose Marie in 1936. He played minor roles until he rejoined the British Army in 1939 up until1945, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and was awarded the United States Legion of Merit.
He resumed acting in 1946 in movies and a bit of Broadway. Ten years later, he starred in the box-office hit Around the World in 80 Days and The Pink Panther in 1964. Niven continued his work in movies, television, and as a novelist into the early eighties, with his last film, The Curse of the Pink Panther, in 1983.
Niven had two wives in his lifetime. His first wife was an officer in the Women’s Auxiliary Force, Primula Rollo. Rollo passed in 1946 due to an accidental fall while playing hide and seek in the Hollywood home of Tyrone Power. His second and last wife was Hjordis Tersmeden, a Swedish model. Niven had two sons by Rollo and two adopted daughters with Tersmeden. (Source: NY Times)
The Biggest Wreath
The ladies’ man succumbed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and passed away on July 29, 1983. A private ceremony in Chateau D’Oex in Switzerland was held for Niven. Only around 150 of Niven’s closest relatives and friends were present during the funeral.
Upon learning of his death and funeral, porters from the Heathrow Airport sent him a funeral wreath, the largest one in his wake. Graham Lord describes the wreath as a wreath worthy of a Mafia Godfather’s funeral. The card wrote To the finest gentleman who ever walked through these halls. He made a porter feel like a king, showing that Niven touched many lives, whether on-screen or in real life. (Source: NY Times)