James Dean vs David Niven

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I have had very few actual heroes in life, other than the obvious ones in most everyone’s family and a few tarnished icons during my recovery from the bad chemicals and ideas of the 60’s. But one character stands out to me as what I wanted to be. 

David Niven.

David Niven - IMDb

I honestly do not know much about his personal life other than he did return to England to serve during World War II.  And frankly, I don’t want to know.  If you have some disparaging information about his personal life, save the juicy tidbits for more appreciative people. I like the characters he played with sophistication and reserve. A perfect gentleman. I didn’t care that it was all an actors skill.

I wanted to be like him, but it is rather hard to look sophisticated when you have acne and a ragged old ‘52 Chevy salesman’s coup. Niven would have driven a Rolls or some other exquisitely crafted car. He smoked cigarettes taken from a silver case which were carefully fitted in an ebony and silver cigarette holder.  I smoked Lucky Strikes rolled up in a t-shirt sleeve when I could afford them, and cool required that they hang off of the bottom lip James Dean style. My school ‘buddies’ would have laughed me out of the county if I had used a cigarette holder and used a Ronson™ lighter.  Any thing other than a Zippo™ was considered … well … a little sissyfied. And trust me. It was better to be killed that be called a sissy back in those days.

fa/ - Fashion

Niven didn’t wear t-shirts.  It was either a military uniform, or a tux. He wouldn’t wear Levi’s, and if he had a leather jacket, it would be a brown pilot’s jacket, not a greasers black leather one.  Not that I could afford a motorcycle jacket back then.

I don’t recall the movie, but one scene stands out perfectly in my mind.  He was falsely accused of flirting with another mans wife, and the husband confronted him about it while he was coolly sipping brandy from a snifter and casually standing in front of a fireplace as the irate husband berated him. The man then punched him, and he carefully set the snifter on the fireplace before falling on the floor.

Tres cool!

I just never quite reached that level of sophistication as hard as I tried. I studied verital wines. Continental cuisine, new the best hotels in every city (if the ads were to be believed, anyway). I did try to dress up one level in my early 50’s, but then I was long married, and sophistication is wasted on Snookums. They don’t come more pragmatic than her. So the suits went back in the closet, the Grecian Formula and Rogain bottles dried out from misuse, and I settled in to be an old fart.  So much for my mid-life crisis!

I don’t know what triggered those thoughts today as I sit in front of the one-eyed blinking cyclops.  Perhaps it was looking at some searches for studio furniture that triggered that old lust for breeding and sophistication. Today, sophistication is taking the time to slice a sweet onion and put it on my bologna sandwich to take with my morning pills.

It's official: there's no such thing as the mid-life crisis

But failed dreams aren’t such a big tragedy when you get older.  Disillusionment is a theme with us.  We discover that politicians become corrupt very soon after being sworn in.  We discover that hucksters write the consumer guides. There really isn’t a dimes difference between a Ford and a Chevy. And winners write the history books.

So I sit back and finish my coffee, and finish this missive … no matter what happens, God is not surprised. Sometimes we just got to trust that things will be OK.

13 thoughts on “James Dean vs David Niven

    Dani said:
    September 1, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    Hey you! Nothing wrong with wanting to have been sophisticated like David Niven. Heck alot of the actors back in the day were classic gents and dressed the part. They were well spoken, polite, cultured…and lets face it, compared to some of today’s actor’s those gentlemen actors could run circles around some. They were also quite debonaire, something sorely lacking, nowadays.

    Still recovering for alot in my state from Laura. Thank the gods above I was well east of landfall. Some lost everything with just a slab of concrete to mark where houses once stood. It’ll take months if not longer for alot. Mother Nature don’t mess.

    Hope you’re taking care. ❤

      Rusty Armor responded:
      September 1, 2020 at 4:53 pm

      You are back in Florida now? Panhandle?

        Dani said:
        September 1, 2020 at 4:56 pm

        I’m in Louisiana.

        Rusty Armor responded:
        September 1, 2020 at 5:27 pm

        Har! OK … wrong Dani … 😛
        Sorry, I thought you were the Maine/Florida Dani … but she usually doesn’t go south ’til the snow flies …
        Good to hear from one of the old crowd! 🙂

        SouthernCharm said:
        September 1, 2020 at 5:34 pm

        Tell you what….instead of using my name, I’ll use SouthernCharm, that way, you’ll always know its me 😊

        Rusty Armor responded:
        September 1, 2020 at 5:38 pm

        You can use whatever name you like … but that works for me! 🙂
        How could I forget my friend from the west side of LA?

        SouthernCharm said:
        September 1, 2020 at 5:43 pm

        Welllllll, central LA, but what the hay! Just as long as you know me from the other Dani. But yes….I dodged a bullet from that hurricane, whew! It could have been catastrophic had it come maybe as little as 30 miles more easterly. I got rain and wind but not like the Texas/Louisiana border. I hate hurricane season 😥

    Rivergirl said:
    September 1, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Elegance and grace, two gentlemanly qualities sorely lacking these days. Is that you in the car? Handsome ole devil..
    😉

    Lia Storm said:
    September 4, 2020 at 11:54 am

    I prefer you as the lovable curmudgeon that you are 😉 I would think a tuxedo would become uncomfortable after awhile and you wouldn’t be able to eat those bologna sandwiches with onions while wearing a tuxedo. That would just be wrong. But the fact that you wanted to be like David Niven is quite interesting. Just another surprising layer of you Sir ❤

      Rusty Armor responded:
      September 4, 2020 at 12:01 pm

      Mmm. I could cut the crust off the sandwiches and quarter them. With a little Grey Poupon and served al fresco on the estate lawn, paired with Malbec wine ….
      and you in a lacy white dress, button down shoes and parasol … has possibilities ..

        Lia Storm said:
        September 4, 2020 at 7:06 pm

        When you put it that way, maybe it would work ❤

    mistermuse said:
    September 6, 2020 at 7:44 pm

    David Niven’s first role of importance in a major film was in the 1936 Academy Award-nominaed DODSWORTH. At first I thought this was the film you were referring to in which there’s a scene where he’s falsely accused of flirting with another man’s wife….but then I remembered that he ACTUALLY flirts with another man’s (Walter Huston) wife. In any case, it’s a great film which I highly recommend.

      Rusty Armor responded:
      September 6, 2020 at 7:49 pm

      It has been a few aeons since I watched it … so my recollections may not be all that sharp …

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