AE108 Colonel Niven
Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot’s best-known ‘sidekick’ was a retired British Army officer, Captain Hastings who was, more or less, a direct descendant of Sherlock Holmes’ Dr. Watson.
For Poirot, Hastings was a lifelong friend, confidant and chronicler and features in at least 8 of the Poirot novels.
In the 1978 film, for some reason, there was a name change and the ‘Hastings’ character was promoted to a full ‘Colonel’ and given the new name of ‘Race’. As such he was portrayed by the legendary British actor, David Niven.
David Niven (1910-1983) was a British actor, soldier and author who joined the British Army as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Highland Light Infantry in 1929 and then resigned his commission in 1933 before ending up in Hollywood in 1935 after many adventures. By the late 1930s he had costarred with Errol Flynn in such epics as ‘The Charge of The Light-Brigade’ and ‘Dawn Patrol’.
The day after Britain declared on Germany in 1939 he rejoined the British Army eventually rising to Lieutenant Colonel. During the war in addition to his military duties he also took part in various liaison roles with the American forces as well as starring in two wartime films ‘The First of The Few’ (1942) about the development of the Spitfire and ‘The Way Ahead’ (1944) the story of a young Army Lieutenant and his platoon from basic training into battle. After the war Niven returned to Hollywood starring in a wide variety of movies. Among his best were… ‘Around The World In 80 Days’… ‘The Guns of Navarone’… ’55 Days At Peking’… and ‘The Pink Panther’ series.
In addition to all of that he became a well-respected and best-selling writer with his chronicles of his very eventful life and the golden age of Hollywood. ‘The Moon’s A Balloon’ and ‘Bring On The Empty Horses’.
As a tribute to this fine actor, brave soldier and a terrific writer, K&C has altered the character’s name in the 1978 film from ‘Colonel Rice’ to ‘Colonel Niven’. Always debonair… frequently entertaining… and forever the true, blue British officer and gentleman.
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