David Niven on Merv Griffin – Higham Reference

24 Oct

David Niven on Merv Griffin circ 1981 with a Charles Higham reference… Robert Blake is a pain without knowing that Niv is terminally ill…

Niven on Merv Griffin

Check out Related Videos for Orson Welles and others…

Tip of the hat to our Author Bob Peckinpaugh…

— David DeWitt


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  1. Anonymous

    October 24, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Excellent clip, David! I've been trying to find the exact date of it. I wish Robert Blake could have shut up (“Do you work out every day? Are you into vitamins or heath food?”), although I liked what he said about Higham and the lower regions . . .
    I was in England in 1981 and saw the Michael Parkinson interview, in which everyone thought that Niven was drunk. I know I did. It was later that we all learned of his condition.
    Thanks again,

  2. Anonymous

    October 25, 2008 at 12:07 am

    I used to sit and watch Niven on Merv or whatever show he was on with pure fascination and pleasure. Once I was alone in the livingroom at Thanksgiving watching an interview with Niv on TV while the whole family including distant relatives called me for dinner… but I was rude and finished the interview because it was not going to be rebroadcast as they do on cable these days. Besides, it was a holiday and what the hell is a holiday without enjoying yourself!
    The Parkinson interview is one I have only seen clips of but it must have been a low point for Niven and frustrating…
    Tom Brokaw was on a flight with Niven and Niv told him that he was terminal but didn't want to suffer the questions and sympathy of it from the public and to his immense credit, Brokaw kept his silence until after Niven was gone. Always felt whatever else you might think of Brokaw you have to respect his integrity on that day.

  3. Anonymous

    October 25, 2008 at 4:35 am

    Thanks for those thoughts about Niv, David – very nicely put; I didn't know that about him and Brokaw. He is still missed.
    It was good to see him looking so healthy near the end of the line in DEATH ON THE NILE. Apparently the disease had not set in yet, or perhaps they did a good job of disguising it.

  4. Anonymous

    October 25, 2008 at 6:35 am

    Yes, Death on the Nile is a fun movie for me because Niv is in fine form and knows how to handle a swordcane which Errol carried off, just as well! I think he was not yet in trouble during this one or his voice trouble was so slight as not to be noticeable.
    I thought the Curse of the Pink Panther movie showed a courageous Niv forging ahead and thought that Rich Little – who dubbed his voice – was absolutely terrible, and sounded nothing like Niven! This rotten impersonation came from someone who could unerringly do Bogart and Kirk Douglas… and dozens of others.

  5. Anonymous

    October 25, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Hard to do with the dregs of today's media, but respect his rare integrity one must.

  6. Anonymous

    October 25, 2008 at 8:25 am

    I always found it frustrating that none of the classic impressionists ever took on Flynn. It would've been great to hear. My own attempt, though I've been secretly working on it for twenty-five years (so tell no one), is pathetic and sounds more like Leon Errol than Errol Flynn!

  7. Anonymous

    October 25, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    I recall that some years ago TCM was celebrating some anniversary or another for Warner Brothers, and they took the last scene from Robin Hood, and instead of saying, “May I obey all your wishes with equal pleasure, Sire,” they dubbed over Errol's voice with an English-sounding actor saying, “And here's looking at you, Warner Brothers!” And it was just AWFUL! The guy sounded nothing like Errol. Some voices, while distinctive or even unique, are just too hard for impressionists to take on. Many were easy of course – AL Jolson, Ronald Colman, Cagney, Bogart, Gable, Cooper, Edward G. – but others were virtually impossible. Alan Ladd was one. Or Tyrone Power. You'd think Orson Welles would be a favorite of impressionists, but he isn't. Among moderns, I've never heard any impressionist do either Robert Redford or Paul Newman. Just too difficult. And I've given up thinking I would ever hear anyone do an effective Errol Flynn impression. But keep it up, Robert – who knows? – you may be the first!