* From Lon Jones, in Hollywood
DAVID Niven, who a few months ago returned to Hollywood from six years of war service to resume his screen career, may now give films away
entirely as a result of the tragic death o f h i s beautiful , 28 - year - old wife Primula. Mrs. Niven, a grand niece of the Marquess of Down- shire, joined her husband in Hollywood from England only two months ago. At a wel- come party, she plunged 20ft. to her death when she opened a cellar door to look for a charades costume. Niven had planned to live in Hollywood permanently because of a top-flight film future there. He was looking for a house for his wife and their two children (three-year-old David, sixmonths old James). Now his film schedules have been shelved and he will go off screen — at least temporarily, per haps for good. His schedules: With Loretta Young in The Perfect Wife; then with Teresa Wright in The Bis- hop's 'Wife. ? * * N0 returning serviceman, Ame- rican or British, was so warmly welcomed back to Holly-
wood as Niven. The entire town seemed glad that this popular, happy-go-lucky Britisher was home. On his return from overseas, David Niven refused to discuss his six years of war service and definitely rejected all attempts by his studio to, make him a hero. His idea then was to resume his screen career with as little fan fare as possible. 'There is really little to tell you,' he said. 'You know, there were quite a lot of us who thought something had to be done. I was just one of millions. 'Not long before I was dis- charged from service, I visited a cemetery which contained the graves of 27,000 men who died in action. I decided then and there that here were 27,000 very good reasons why I should never dis- cuss my service.' m * * LOOKING as young as he did when he left to join the Bri- tish Army in 1939, but very much thinner (which he ascribed to being 'scared to death for six years'), Niven wasted no time getting back into harness. Unlike most Hollywood men who served in the U.S. armed forces, he did not ask for a long rest, but started work within a few days of his return to Paramount's The Perfect Wife. On completion of this he was to go immediately into production of The Bishop's Wife, for Samuel Goldwyn, who holds his exclusive contract. Gold- wyn loaned him to Paramount so that Niven could get back on the screen as soon as possible. Apart from his now-shelved schedules, Niven had plans of his own as far as his movie career was concerned. Most important he wanted to get Goldwyn to star him as Bonnie Prince Charlie in The White Cockade. He even went to the trouble of making a short sequence of the story be fore he left England, just so he could convince Goldwyn he could take the part. « ♦ * T'O induce Goldwyn to release him from his contract in 1939 so that he could join up, he cab- led his brother in England to send him the following cable: 'Report to regimental depot im- mediately. — Adjutant." Niven showed this cable to Goldwyn. who immediately released him. Goldwyn has since revealed, however, that he was not fooled for a minute. He took the trouble to check with the British Em- bassy in Washington and found that Niven was not on the reserve list. Six years later, when Niven stepped from the train at Los Angeles, Goldwyn had two tailors waiting to measure him for a complete new wardrobe of a doz- en suits because Niven had only the clothes he arrived in. This was Sam's welcome home present to his favourite star. It was Goldwyn who first put Niven on his feet in films and who will lose heavily if Niven quits. Niven left England, shed Scottish formality, dropped an army com- mission- to explore America. He made money as a Canadian lum- berjack and trouble in a Cuban revolution and then sailed for San Francisco. He met Sam Goldwyn at a dinner party, became a Goldwyn protege. He was established in stardom with such early hits as The Pri- soner of Zenda, The Dawn Pat- rol, Wuthering Heights. * . . .*' f)AVID NIVEN met his wife (a daughter of Flight Lieuten- ant William Rollo and Lady Kathleen. Rollo) during the war. 'I literally leaped into matri mony,' he said after. 'There was an air raid at the station where I was serving and as usual I ran like hell, for the nearest shelter. I jumped into . a slit trench and landed on top of a blonde W.A. A.F. 'She had a dog with her and it nipped me. We argued for some time. 'Ten days later she married me.' Petite, flaxen-haired Mrs. David Niqen died in a Holly wood hospital on May 24 as a result oj brain injuries. The accident occurred during a game of charades at the home of Tyrone Power, who, with wife Annabella, was giving a dinner party. Said Power: 'David is stricken with grief.'-
© DAVID NIVEN greets his wife Primula and son David on their arrival in Los Angeles from England. Her death may mean the end of his film career.