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David NivenThis Monday marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of Britain's greatest all-time screen talents, David Niven.

Niven, who died 29th July 1983, starred in over 100 movies and won an Academy Award in 1959 for Separate Tables. The definition of suave, Niven found fame in the golden era of 1940s Hollywood but continued to act with the same level of charm and sophistication through the 60s and 70s making him the perfect deadpan, straight man in a number of knockabout comedies including Pink Panther and Happy Ever After and the steadying force of fantasies such as Around The World in 80 Days and A Matter Of Life & Death.

Watch our three favourite David Niven moments after the jump... David NivenThis Monday marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of Britain's greatest all-time screen talents, David Niven.

Niven, who died 29th July 1983, starred in over 100 movies and won an Academy Award in 1959 for Separate Tables. The definition of suave, Niven found fame in the golden era of 1940s Hollywood but continued to act with the same level of charm and sophistication through the 60s and 70s making him the perfect deadpan, straight man in a number of knockabout comedies including Pink Panther and Happy Ever After and the steadying force of fantasies such as Around The World in 80 Days and A Matter Of Life & Death.

With his pencil moustache and graceful presence, Niven personified a particular kind of Britishness. Niven was author Ian Fleming's choice for James Bond, but producer Albert Broccoli considered him too old for the part - a view that was ridiculed by the fact that he continued to play urbane leading men for the remainder of his life (including Bond in the unofficial 007 movie, Casino Royale).

Off screen, Niven was an immensely likeable and cheerful character, always quick with a quip or anecdote, but he never spoke about his time in the army during World War II (he was one of the first actors to sign up) and hid tragedies of his private life.

Speaking at Niven's memorial service, John Mortimer said "David's life was Wodehouse with tears." He lost his father when he was five, and just six weeks after moving from London to Hollywood, his wife Primula died in a bizarre accident. While playing hide and seek in the home of actor Tyrone Power she walked through a door believing it was a cupboard and fell down a stone staircase to a basement.

His second marriage was far from straightforward - among many affairs his wife was rumoured to have slept with John F Kennedy, while he is said to have counted Grace Kelly and Princess Margaret amongst his mistresses.

Niven was also a fine speaker and writer - his brilliant biography, The Moon's A Balloon (which opens with his encounter with a Piccadilly prostitute when aged 14), sold over five million copies.

Here's our three favourite Niven moments:

Presenting an Award at the Oscars in 1974, Niven keeps his poise despite an unexpected stage invader...



A Matter Of Life And Death: Niven is just brilliant here making you believe that the consequences of this epic fantasy are very real indeed...



The Pink Panther: From Raffles to here as the gentleman thief in this classic comedy, Niven was often cast as an aristocratic con man...