David Niven's The Moon's a Balloon [Book Review]

Actor David Niven released his autobiography in 1972 to rave reviews. The title - The Moon's a Balloon- references an e.e. cummings poem about flying into the sky with pretty people, a possible allusion to Hollywood.

Niven spends ample time describing his childhood in an oppressive boarding school, his journey into the Army. Through the course of things, his charmed life leads him to friends of friends who are acquainted with Hollywood actors. Niven is , in due course, well on his way to being courted by film studios, often playing dashing men of wealth or military officers. (Niven would receive an Academy Award for his portrayal of a man who claims to be a retired military veteran in Separate Tables.)

Do not get your heart set on copious details of memories on the set of this or that film. Niven relays the most meaningful stories of his life, most of them were off camera. Niven married twice. The first one ended in a frightful accident at Tyrone Power's house. Still, Niven had great fun in both marriages. He also raised four children and seems to have been loved by all of them.

 David Jr. says this of his father in Thomas Hutchinson’s book NIVEN'S HOLLYWOOD:
“As a father he showed no favoritism and was always there whenever we needed him. He never insisted we be ‘the best’ only to do ‘our best.’ He instilled in us the value of family unity, the importance of loyalty, humility and honesty. He loved us very much and I only hope we gave him as much love and pleasure as he gave us.”

The Moon's a Balloon is an intimate foray into the life of a man who was a delight on- and off-screen.

This post is part 4 of 6 of Raquel's Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge Blogathon. Read more at the Out of the Past website.


  1. I love David Niven. And he wrote multiple books, no? I definitely have to check out this one. Thanks for participating in my challenge. You're on a roll.

    1. Raquel, yes Niven also wrote BRING ON THE EMPTY HORSES which recounts more of his career than this book. I haven't read HORSES yet, but it's on my Amazon list.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      -- Java/Deborah


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