Hjördis post, March 2022

The Niven family in the sunshine at Cap Ferrat, c.1966

I hope you are all keeping well. Looking at the picture above, I think a holiday in the south of France would go down very well. However, best ignore Sam Goldwyn’s advice: “No one goes to the south of France any more. It’s too crowded.”


The ongoing search for Hjördis content has tripped across Lantern, an online “media history digital library”.

It’s a huge and FREE collection of movie, TV and radio-related magazines: including Variety, Photoplay, Modern Screen, Motion Picture Herald, and Screenland.

It must have been a huge undertaking to scan and it’s a fabulous source of information, although James Garner (in his Mr Grumpy guise) would not have agreed:

“I’d look at Photoplay and think, What a bunch of phonies! All those supposedly candid shots of the stars in ‘real life’. You could see them posing. I never understood the whole fan thing, because I’ve never been a fan of anybody. I didn’t want to be part of that. But… I did those same stories, to my shame. The fan magazines were so sleazy, they weren’t saved in libraries like old issues of Life or The Saturday Evening Post. I’m glad.”

But they’ve ended up on Lantern, accessable for everyone. So there.

Photoplay, 1957. Top-hatted David serves Hjördis on the Pink House patio. The image is posed, but similar things did happen in real life when was trying to cheer her up.

Regarding Hjördis, the magazines are a decent source of images. The text is less interesting but does contain a few nuggets.

The main events covered are her wedding to David in 1948, and their temporary split in 1959. The latter is a mix of contradictory theories, patched together alongside old interviews and publicity bios.

Gossip queen Louella Parsons wrote for Modern Screen that part of the distance in the Nivens’ relationship was caused by Hjördis’ full-on social life. New to me!

“Hjördis appeared to love the social side of Hollywood and also busied herself with committees outside of pictures working on charity affairs [affairs, huh?]. These activities took a great deal of her time – not that David really objected. Because of his wearying schedules, David frequently bowed out of party engagements to get to bed early.”

On the other hand:

A ‘close friend’ was quoted as saying: “I’ve seen this rift widening between the Nivens for some time. Hjördis hasn’t been well lately, and she’s been leading too solitary a life, whether by choice or not. David, a gregarious soul, has been so busy with other projects that he hasn’t been able to devote himself to her as he did some years ago.”

Hjördis at the digital museum

Nordiska Kompaniet’s dress designer Pelle Lundgren with Hjördis Niven during a visit to her old workplace in 1953. Photo: Glase, Gösta / Nordiska Museet (CC BY 4.0)

In her pre-Tersmeden and Niven days, Hjördis Genberg was top model at the Franska (French) department in Stockholm’s prestigious Nordiska Kompaniet store.

Thousands of NK’s fashion photos are in the process of being scanned and uploaded to the Swedish digital museum at https://digitaltmuseum.se.

If you are interested in social history, fashion in particular, it’s an absolute treasure-trove. All free to view, and free to reproduce with a Creative Commons credit. There are over 100 images of Hjördis taken between 1941-1945.

Paris of the North (NK’s French Couture Atelier 1902–1966)

Nordiska museum’s “Paris of the North” exhibition.

The Nordiska museum in Stockholm currently has an exhibition of NK Franska’s vintage fashion photos and garments, running until 18th September 2022. Real, not virtual!

For more details: https://www.nordiskamuseet.se/en/utstallningar/paris-north. I wouldn’t know one dress from another, but it does look amazing.

There is also an accompanying (Swedish-language) book, titled “Nordens Paris” by Susanna Strömquist. Hjördis is mentioned briefly, and there are photos of her in both the book and the exhibition.

For international shipping, Susanna recommends konstigbooks.com, specialists in art, design and photography books.

And… I think that’s all for now! hjordisniven.com is still being regularly updated, so please do visit.

Best wishes for now.

One thought on “Hjördis post, March 2022”

  1. Those online resources sound great David, I shall bookmark for a rainy day! It is a shame so few national resources are devoted to archiving our past in a co-ordinated way, but it’s left to enthusiasts. Simon


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