Over the many years I’ve had the pleasure of toiling away in Hollywood it’s been an absolute joy to see so many wonderful actors at work, and Bobby Redford. All the greats have their quirks, Brando for example would never pronounce the letter ‘n’ in ‘botanical’, but maybe the strangest of all was dear old David Niven. 

“Niv” as I never called him could be a rum fish sometimes, and no mistake. Every Wednesday morning, regular as clockwork, he’d recite the alphabet in an Australian accent, drink a large gin and tonic, then change his socks. Don’t ask me why, he just did.
 Every August he’d go the whole month without blinking.
I particularly enjoyed his annual Players v Prancers charity croquet game when the leading lights of Hollywood took on the principal members of the Royal Ballet. One year he livened things up by unleashing a tiger that he borrowed from a nearby zoo. Sadly two of the dancers were mauled quite badly, but one can laugh about it now. That was Niven for you! I still remember that time when his next door neighbour had an appointment to see the optician and while he was out we painted his front door a different colour. Like I said, that was Niven for you!
As an actor he displayed an incredible range, playing everything from suave and debonair to debonair and suave, but maybe his finest performances were late at night in a little cocktail bar we used to know, when he’d sit at the piano and play us some of the old songs from before the war. I don’t mind admitting that I get a tear in my eye just thinking about him. If he was here right now I’d know he’d say ‘Neddy! Pull yourself together!’, and we’d  fly to Venice and steal a gondola or something, but we both had our passports seized at customs when we tried to smuggle those sacred artefacts back from Egypt. 
But that’s another story…
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