The Moon’s a Balloon

Suggested by Kung Fu Zu • A fun, easy, and entertaining read, this book is well-written and gives you a good sense of the old Show Biz world with its chaos. Niven had a long career in Hollywood and was prolific. He was a notorious womanizer which completely broke his second wife.
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10 Responses to The Moon’s a Balloon

  1. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    This was an enjoyable book to read. Nevertheless, I must admit that while reading it, I wondered how much Niven sanitized and embellished.

    After finishing the book, I did a little research and my gut feeling was correct. Niven did embellish and sanitize a huge amount.

    It would seem pretty clear that Niven had some fairly significant emotional problems as a child, which carried into adulthood. It is hard to decide whether he was self-destructive or just didn’t given a damn.

    One would have to say that Niven was a dog as regards women. Lucky for him, he does not live in our times or his picture would likely be hanging in the Post Office next to Harvey Weinstein’s.

    One thing which one should take away from the book is that what the public sees with actors is not what they really get. After all, actors make a living by pretending. I often wonder why so many people have a problem understanding this.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      One thing which one should take away from the book is that what the public sees with actors is not what they really get. After all, actors make a living by pretending. I often wonder why so many people have a problem understanding this.

      Yes, I can see the value and interest in a behind-the-scenes look. Perhaps it would be better if people understood that Susan Sarandon and Alec Baldwin do not possess all of life’s answers.

      Still, it’s a logical question as to why one should read this book if the veracity of its contents are so much in doubt. Or does is just make for good Commander McBragg reading?

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Well, celebrities don’t exactly have a perfect record of winning, Many have, many haven’t. Ralph Waite (aka Grandpa Walton) and Nancy Kulp (aka Jane Hathaway) both lost races (one in the Palm Springs area, the other in central Pennsylvania) against incumbents. Kulp’s opponent (Bud Shuster, as I recall) had a celebrity endorser of interest: Kulp’s co-start Buddy Ebsen.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I’m not sure who asked the question of winning elections, but Ralph Waite is John Walton, Sr. The Grandfather was played by Will Geer. In “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story,” Grandpa Zebb Walton was played by Edgar Bergen.

          Holdovers to the series were Richard Thomas, Ellen Corby, Judy Norton, Mary Beth McDonough, Kami Cotler, Eric Scott, and David W. Harper. A nice substitution/addition, of course, was Michael Learned as Olivia Walton. Ralph Waite also was a rock on that show. And doesn’t everyone know a Corabeth? I think her relationship with Ike Godsey, although painful at times to watch, added some grit and realism to the show (balance for the schmaltz, if you will).

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Thanks for the correction. I only rarely saw the show, when I happened to be in the living room when it was on (my mother liked it, and for part of the time it was on I was working on my computer — programming, which I mostly did at home when I started with Key Systems as a free-lancer).

            But I regularly saw The Beverly Hillbillies after we came back from Greece. (I recall my father once noting an error in performing in character — I think it was the pronunciation of “gourd”). Perhaps my favorite episode involved the guy who sent in an investigator and concluded that the entire group of the Clampetts (and Jethro) were scientific geniuses.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I have fond memories of watching “The Waltons” with my family. It was a sense of normalcy and goodness. Contrast that with those brought up now on dysfunctional or PC families that make you want to gag.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Well, I won’t say I disliked it, I just never liked it enough to watch it regularly. I do recall seeing the episode in which John-Boy gets sent to report on the landing of the dirigible Hindenburg at Lakehurst. He’s very happy with the assignment until the dirigible catches fire. (Incidentally, it seems those who waited for it to land lived; those who jumped out injured themselves badly enough when they hit the tarmac that they were unable to escape when the flaming gasbag finally came down.)

                I also recall when a brother (probably John-Boy) was trying to come up with a list of writers who made a good living, and a sister suggested a female mystery writer. He didn’t think that was what was meant, to which she responded, “We’re talking about writers — who make money.” And so he added her mane to his short list.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        it’s a logical question as to why one should read this book if the veracity of its contents are so much in doubt

        In the case of “The Moon is a Balloon” there is enough truth and humor in it to recommend it. Furthermore, if one has the sense to question certain things written, and then do a little background research on these questions, one can often learn a lot. In any case, I blv that while sometimes fast and loose with the truth about himself and his family, he is on firmer ground when writing about friends, colleagues and the times in general.

        The original reason I read the book was that I always liked David Niven and knew that he had had a life outside of Hollywood. It was particularly interesting that he had actually served as an officer in the British Army and gave up his career to go back and fight for Britain during WWII. It was only by reading the book that I learned about a very different side of Niven, than the one I had previously seen. Sometimes, one can learn some truth about others from the lies they tell.

        Finally, the book is very entertaining and that is reason enough to read anything, in my opinion.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Sometimes, one can learn some truth about others from the lies they tell.

          Aha! A profound notion. I knew I could squeeze the truth out of you…I guess. So to speak. Nivenesque. Merry Christmas and all that. No lie.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    A friend of mine has mentioned that Niven was an infantry officer on D-Day, and told his troops that they only had to do it once, whereas “I’ll have to do it a dozen times with Errol Flynn.” Of course, Flynn’s days starring as a swashbuckler were pretty much over by then, and they didn’t make a movie of D-Day (The Longest Day for roughly another 20 years; I can’t recall if Niven was in it. I perhaps recall him best from The Pink Panther (in which he probably didn’t need to act much) and 55 Days in Peking (with Charlton Heston as the Marine captain).

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