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Hjördis post, April 2023

A view of Lo Scoglietto’s garden and rotunda. Cap Ferrat, January 2023

Hello! It’s been a while since my last post, but there has been a lot of activity on

The newest page is a gallery of photos documenting a visit to Cap Ferrat in January 2023, and a stroll past David and Hjördis’ old summer residence ‘Lo Scoglietto’, now called ‘Fleur de Cap’. It feels like a really special area. (Reflected in the prices in the windows of local estate agents!)

For vintage views of Lo Scoglietto, check out ‘Lo Scoglietto – The little rock‘ for Hjördis’ description of the house and its 1960s renovations.

Hjördis Niven, journalist Margareta Hernberg and David Niven, 1963
Hjördis Niven, bee-hived journalist Margareta Hernberg, and David Niven. 1963

The Nivens at Lo Scoglietto, 1967‘ tells the story of a visit to ‘Lo Scoglietto’ by Swedish journalist Margareta Hernberg. It also manages to highlight Hjördis’ paranoia about leaving David in the company of a young female jourmalist.

Margareta had previously revealed a real talent for getting below the glossy surface of the couple’s relationship. Which was usually inpenetrable.

Her Women’s World interview from 1963 shone a light on David’s reluctance to let Hjördis have a movie career, even when one was dropped onto her lap after an appearance in the tv drama ‘Safe Keeping‘…

“The day after the program we were completely overwhelmed,” David remembered. “Of course, it concerned offers for Hjördis. It’s been about six or seven years now, but I still haven’t gotten over it. You work year in and year out, hoping that you develop in your profession. And then one’s wife, a complete novice, comes and makes a single appearance. Great success!”

“And I was kind enough to interrupt a promising acting career in order not to compete with you,” was Hjördis’ response. A real ‘joke with a jab’.

Jamie Niven podcast interview
Jamie Niven podcast interview

In 2021, David’s son Jamie took part in a frank podcast for the Partnership To End Addiction, discussing alcohol problems that lasted from his teens to his sixties.

Among other revelations, he mentions how a friend helped him to understand his father’s attitude to perceived competition: “He was a narcissist, and narcissists can’t tolerate the success of the other around them.”

The podcast’s headline is: “Despite being the son of an Academy Award-winning actor, Jamie Niven’s life wasn’t all glitz and glamour. At just six months old, Jamie’s mother passed away, leaving Jamie to grow up with an overwhelming feeling of loneliness – a feeling that followed him for his entire life.”

Hjördis was not named or even alluded to, but she could surely have done more to fill the void in Jamie’s life.

“Hjördis was more of a companion rather than a mother,” Jamie told Sheridan Morley in the 1980s. “She didn’t act like a mother and she made it very clear that she never wanted to be our mother.” (The perfect wife and mother, 1949-1950)

Hjordis Niven in Pacific Palisades, 1948
Hjördis Niven in Pacific Palisades, 1948

And now, something about friendship in Hollywood. Gene Tierney’s husband, Oleg Cassini, had plenty to say on the matter:

“Friendship among stars was a curious phenomenon. Gene had no friends who might be considered competitors, and this was quite typical. She could be friendly with older women, and men, but no-one her own age really. This was true among male stars as well. The big ones expected to be treated like royalty; each was a sun, with various dimmer satellites swirling about him. For a time I sought to become friendly with Errol Flynn – we played tennis together, his natural dash and flamboyance appealed to me – but it wasn’t possible. Like most big stars, Flynn expected deference from his friends. His circle included lesser stars like Bruce Cabot and David Niven, none of whom questioned his suzerainty.”

For more Oleg, and Hjördis’ impressions of the 1940s-50s Hollywood social scene: May I introduce… Mrs David Niven

Concept posters for the ‘Chalet’ movie project

Meanwhile, somewhere in a pipeline, a project is taking shape to adapt a play written by the late journalist Roderick Mann into a movie. ‘Chalet’ is set in December 1975, and was apparently based on Hjördis’ behaviour towards David in his last days.

The project’s website: (No connection to!)

And that’s all for this post! Until next time, take care, and check the updates page.

Hjördis post, August 2022

Hjördis Genberg on the cover of VeckoRevyn, 11th May 1945.

Hello everyone. What about this for a spectacular magazine cover? It’s from Sweden’s Vecko Revyn (Weekly Review), 11th May 1945, three days after the end of the Second World War in Europe. And it looks like the colour green was still in short supply.

The feature inside was really an advertorial in disguise, announcing a new DC-3 Dakota service from Stockholm to Sundsvall. Hjördis was also pictured onboard, thumbing through ABA’s inflight booklet (“Fine wines of Estonia”, “Salt, an epicure’s delight” etc). Whether she used the service in real life isn’t known!

The cover has been added to the Hjördis magazine-cover gallery.

Hjördis Tersmeden modelling US fashoins. brought home to Sweden in April 1946

How to condemn thousands of women to eternal hopelessness

In 1964, Hjördis Niven related her first meeting with David Niven for UK’s Woman magazine, little expecting that 60 years later someone (hello there) would be checking the accuracy of her claims. Just for interest’s sake of course.

“David has a wonderful way of making every woman he talks to feel important and attractive. I explained that I had both designed and modelled clothes for a Swedish fashion house and also ran my own fashion page in a woman’s weekly magazine.”

Well, she did model clothes for Swedish fashion house NK Franska, very successfully. As for running her own fashion page… well, it happened once for sure, though she didn’t seem completely invested.

Newspaper teasers for the December 1945 issue of Sweden’s Vi Damer (Us ladies) magazine proclaimed: “Hjördis Genberg, Stockholm’s star mannequin no.1 teaches you the art of wearing clothes.”

The actual magazine feature looks like a one-off. Hjördis was already packing her bags to travel to the US by the time it was published. The Vi Damer staff-writer initially had trouble getting enough material to fill a paragraph, never mind an article:

“At first, Miss Genberg tried to get away with the uncomfortable explanation that the art of wearing clothes is innate. However, as that would condemn thousands of women to eternal hopelessness [a bit dramatic], she thought about it again.”

“The art of wearing clothes is the same as the art of choosing the correct clothes, we agreed. A sportswoman in ruffles is almost an abomination of nature.” etc. (The only ladies’ sport ruffles I can think of are tennis players’ frilly knickers in the 1970s)

Anyway…. where was I…. The Swedish press were still interested in Hjördis’ fashion sense on her return from the US. Her new American wardrobe contents were described and beautifully illustrated for Vårt Hem magazine: Hjördis Tersmeden : Fashion from America, 1946

The Genberg Family

Hjördis Niven with her siblings, March 1950

In June 1947, newly-divoreed Hjördis Tersmeden left Sweden for New York to start a new life as a model, actress, and (she hoped) as Countess Cassini. She finally returned home in March 1950 as Mrs Hjördis Niven, a step-mother but not a model or an actress. Four of her five siblings gathered to meet her in Stockholm. For the full story, check out the Rocket to the stars page.

Surrounding Hjördis in the photo, from left to right: sisters Gerd Genberg, living at the time in Gothenburg, Ann-Marie Wrambeck from Enskede, Kerstin Rozén from Stockholm, and their brother Georg Genberg from Enskede… (father of the twins Gudrun and Maj-lis Genberg).

In her childhood memories, Hjördis remembered: “My siblings were remarkably beautiful, especially my brother, and the sister who was closest to me in age (Ann-Marie). She had long, thick, dark brown hair, that I was always violently jealous of, and was never as painfully thin as me.”

David and Hjördis Niven on the cover of VeckoRevyn magazine. Sweden, 9th December 1949.

Glacier or volcano

Speaking to an Icelandic newspaper in 1964 Hjördis recalled her lightning courtship and marriage to David Niven. “I had a husband and two sons in a few weeks. I had to move to a new country, and get used to new customs. I did not know what I was getting myself into.”

“Neither did I!” David shot back.

Perhaps inspired by the local geography, he continued:

“I thought my wife was cool as a glacier, and then suddenly she erupted like a volcano. I was so overwhelmed that I went down to the basement, locked myself in and cursed.” (The spark was the placement of a chair in the living room…)

“Yes, the poor thing,” Hjördis replied, laughing. “He was there half the day.”

A big thank you to Iceland’s newspaper archive for this and other snippets. It’s free, and it’s superb!

Art review

Hjördis Niven confronted by one of her old paintings, 1950

When Hjördis visited her sister Kerstin Rozén in 1950, she was mock-horrified to find one of her old paintings on display.

Her reaction? “But damn it Kerstin, why on earth do you have that horrible old thing on the wall?”

The subject matter seems obvious enough… Behind the smile, modelling can be tiring. Other interpretations welcome.

Pornographic book review

Hjordis and David Niven, 1952

(Thought you might read this section…)

In 1952. London publisher Hamish Hamilton was interested in a first English-language version of popular Swedish novel ‘Dreams of Roses and Fire’ by Fyvind Johnson. Hjördis was paid the equivalent of £60 to read and review it.

Her reaction was positive, but helped ensure that the book wasn’t published in the English-speaking world until 1984. (Way to go Hjördis).

“Oh yes. it’s a good book, and terribly pornographic, so I think you should publish it.”

Before you think Hjördis blew an opportunity to make the unexpurgated publication of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ a decade later a historical irrelevance; ‘Dreams of Roses and Fire’ was actually about a 17th century French priest who gets burnt at the stake after being accused of witchcraft. Admittedly his accuser was jealous that the padre was popular with the ladies, but, well, it depends on what you consider pornographic. That said, Hjördis had an under-appreciated sense of humour.


That’s all for now. Please check for site-updates on The story is semi-regularly updated, and filled with more images when possible.

Very best wishes.

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

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: 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, specialists in art, design and photography books.

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

Best wishes for now.

Hjördis Niven. Christmas post 2021

(Is it Christmas already??)

Hjordis Niven and family, 1969
The Nivens in Switzerland in the late sixties.

I hope you are all keeping well. There is plenty of new material to share on in the coming weeks. I’ll preview some in this post.

Yachting with Hjördis’ first husband, Carl-Gustaf Tersmeden

Colonel von Schinken, air attache of the Swedish embassies in the US and Canada, sailing with Carl-Gustaf Tersemeden, August 1949.

In 1949, several years before Carl-Gustaf was skewered in the US press as a “stout Swedish socialite” he was gushed over in Newsday as a (deep breath) :

“Dashing young Swedish paper pulp merchant prince temporarily at liberty after shedding his second wife Hgordes Jenberg,” [which sounds like someone trying to say Hjördis Genberg after testing David Niven’s Christmas Glögg recipe] under the headline “Debutantes’ hearts flutter over wealthy viking yachting off Long Island.”

Carl-Gustaf had his 60 ft yacht ‘Symfoni’ transported across the Atlantic on an American freighter, and spent his summer sailing the US north-east coast. Later in the year Igor Cassini unashamedly reported C-G ‘s arrival in Palm Beach to chase the ladies.

After his divorce from Hjördis, Carl-Gustaf spent six months a year in the US, selling wood pulp to US newspaper publishers. Ironically, some of it was used to tattle on his playboy lifetsyle, and ultimately just to call him fat and sad. There must have been some degree of jealousy.

Hjördis gets noticed, part one

David and Hjördis Niven, 1958

One often repeated statement about Hjördis’ marriage to David Niven is that she was often upset about not being noticed when she was with him.

“When a beautiful woman walks into a room she should immediately get the attention that is her prerogative,” David explained. “If she is alongside someone whose face happens to be well-known she can get pushed aside.”

But, occasionally the reverse was true. This snippet coms from the London Evening Standard in May 1950:

“A photographer recognised Mrs. David Niven in the stalls at the Vaudeville last night. After he had taken her picture he wrote down her name, turned to her husband who was with her and asked ‘And what is your name, please?’

Niven said: ‘It’s still me.'”

Hjördis gets noticed, part two

The Nivens around-the-world holiday in 1958 has been used as a prime example of Hjördis’ irritation about David drawing attention, which he admitted was a source of pride:

“After 25 years in Hollywood movies, I found it impossible to walk unrecognised down back streets of Bangkok or Calcutta. In Istanbul, thinking we could spend a quiet afternoon at a soccer game, we were spotted, rated a loudspeaker announcement, applause and autograph seekers. My head was high and my chest out until early the next morning.”

The next morning was a rare win for Hjördis. She repeated the story more than once, but this was David’s take:

“We had a blowout on the way to the airport and the taxi had no spare. So there we were miles from anywhere at 7am.”

“Then came an army to rescue. A convoy of trucks appeared, and a jeep disengaged itself to offer assistance. Hjördis, who was wearing a bright red Chinese dress complete with a slit up the side, was snuggled in beside the colonel. I was unceremoniously stuffed into the cook’s truck with all the baggage.”

“On arrival at the airport there was much (really too much) kissing of Hjördis’ hand by the officers while I was instructed to unload our baggage. The came the final blow – Hjördis was asked for HER autograph! Oh well!”

And finally, talking of autographs

Cheque written by David Niven to his children’s nanny Evelyn Walne. November 1959.

The best way to land a genuine David Niven autograph these days is through the sale of his used cheques. Although David’s examples are usually cashed, including one made out to Hjördis “for house-keeping”, cheque-writing could be profitably used by celebrities.

In ‘The Garner Files: A Memoir’, James Garner mentioned that: “Gary Cooper wrote checks for everything – gasoline, cigarettes, groceries, meals in restaurants – because he knew most of them wouldn’t be cashed. Coop figured he might as well get paid for signing his name.” Clever.

The day after David and Hjordis’ wedding reception in London, a hopeful attempt to land autographs went sadly wrong:

“A telegraph boy crossed the road in Buckingham Place last night, and rang the bell at the house where David Niven was holding his wedding reception.”

“To a manservant who opened the door the boy presented a sheet of paper. It came from the typists looking on from near-by windows. They hoped Mr.Niven and his guests would fill the sheet with autographs.”

“It back it came with one signature – the manservant’s. Apparently he thought he was signing a receipt for a telegram.” Way too subtle.

As ever, I’ll round this post off with the Nivens’ favourite Swedish recipes, including a Christmas drink that sounds like the sort of concotion usually put-together in prison radiators: David and Hjördis Niven’s Christmas recipes, 1967, August 2021

It’s been a while since the last post., so there is some catching up to do. I hope you are all keeping well, and that life is getting back to normal.

Gudrun Genberg

First of all is the sad news of the death of Hjördis’ niece Gudrun Genberg, also known as Pia Genberg. Gudrun passed away in 2020. The page about her and twin Maj-iis’ eventful careers as models, dancers, and actresses has been updated: Pia and Mia Genberg.

Pia and Mia Genberg in Las Vegas, 1960
A beautiful still from the 1960 movie “Pepe”, with Maurice Chevalier flanked by Gudrun and Maj-lis Genberg.

Crofting in Röksta

More photos and information have been added to the story of Hjördis’ early years, when her father worked as a crofter in the northern half of Sweden. The family’s house was demolished as early as the 1940s, with even the foundations repurposed. The site has been tracked down and photographed by local Röksta historians and kindly sent by Hans Jonsson: Long winter evenings in the north, 1919-1929.

A small wall at the site of the Genberg family's croft in Rismyra,.
A small wall at the site of the Genberg family’s croft in Rismyra,. Photo: Hans Jonsson.

Rocket to the stars

In early 1950, Hjördis and David Niven were visited at their home in Pacific Palisades for a newby television cameras for a new half-hour series / elongated series of Oldsmobile adverts called ‘Rocket to the Stars’.

Not only has the programme survived, but it can be viewed on YouTube, in excellent quality. Hjördis is shown young, beautiful and charming, as well as excited and very nervous. David is, of course, entirely at ease throughout.

Book corner

Next, a book recommendation: ‘In My Own Fashion’ by Oleg Cassini. Oleg became a leading fashion designer, married movie star Gene Tierney, and was of course Igor Cassini’s brother. (Igor lured Hjördis away from her first marriage).

David pops up a couple of times, with a very direct assessment of his friendship with Errol Flynn, and a heartbreaking description of the party at which Primula Niven met with her tragic accident. ( Primmie Niven, 1918-1946 )

Hjördis is not directly mentioned in the book. Many people and places connected with her life and times in Hollywood are described, and with absolute candour. Oleg observations about life as an outsider in Hollywood add a lot colour to this website.

And finally, for now, a German edition of David’s second best-seller: ‘Bring on the Empty Horses‘, retitled ‘Stars : That Did Not Fall From The sky’.

Hjördis was not a fan of the book. The verdict was: “That’s another pack of lies”, so it’s ironic that a happily smiling Hjördis is displayed on the cover. (The photo looks like it comes from one of Princess Grace’s evening events in Monte Carlo).

Hjördis and David Niven on a German book cover, 1977
Hjördis Niven featured on the cover of the 1977 German edition of ‘Bring On The Empty Horses].

For other book reviews, check out the The Hjördis Niven bookshelf.

Hjördis updates, 2020

Page views on are reflecting that more and more people are at home and online during these strange and stressful days. I hope you are all safe and well.

A couple of years ago I thought that the story of Hjördis’ life was as complete as it was ever going to be. However, information just keeps on showing up, revealing all sorts of new paths to explore.

The first pages of the story…

Salsåker school, 2020

Hans Jonsson has kindly photographed the two school buildings in Salsåker that Hjördis attended before her family moved to Vivstavarv in 1931. The red building on the right catered for the 7-8 year olds. Older children were taught across the road to the timber framed building. It’s quite a surprise that both are still standing…  and it’s downright amazing that the old smithy that used to terrify young Hjördis is also (just about) standing. Though I wouldn’t lean against it.

Sadly the Genbergs’ house in nearby Röksta no longer exists, and may have been pulled down as early as the 1940s.

[Daniel Spencer has commented that is becoming more of a graphic novel than a blog. If it’s heading that way… well, great!]

Moving on to the Genberg-Tersmeden year and a half, details have surfaced about Hjördis’ first marriage, to Carl Gustaf Tersmeden. Hjördis caused  confusion by claiming in 1960 that the wedding took place in Azusa, California. Not so.  The venue was actually Judge RH Lutes’ in-and-out-no-fuss Wedding Chapel, in Yuma, Arizona. Although only a small border town famous for growing winter lettuce, Yuma also became the fashionable venue for Californian stars who didn’t want to wait for their state’s statutory blood test before being granted a license.


When Hjördis arrived home in March 1946, the American fashions that she brought back were of such interest that her new wardrobe was described and illustrated across three pages for Swedish magazine Vårt Hem.

Our website attracts a lot of people most interested in Hjördis because of her modelling days, and the fashions that she was pictured in, so this new page is for them, and also serves as a snapshot of  US fashion (for the well-heeled) between December 1945 and March 1946.

 The last pages of the story…

Much slower to turn up are details of Hjördis’ lost years of alcoholism following David Niven’s death, and her eventual recovery. But there is some new information that helps to tie it all together.

All site updates can be found on the site map page.

Very best wishes for now.

May 2019 at

Regarding recent updates to – well, there are plenty of new details and images, mostly in pages covering the 1930s and 1940s.

This includes new information about Hjordis’ marriage to Carl Gustaf Tersmeden, revealing similarities with her second marriage: about how her husband behaved, and how she reacted. There are plenty of tangents, such as the photo below from Carl Gustaf’s first (short) marriage, to Ingegerd Beck-Friis. Is that a look of doubt on his face, or just a look of doubt on his face…

Carl Gustaf Tersmeden with his first wife on their wedding day.

There is also a new page, concerning Hjordis’ first year as a model, illustrating her astonishingly rapid ascent from nervous would-be modelling student in 1941, to undisputed Queen of Leja in 1942. From mid 1942 until her move on to NK Franska in late 1943 she was the one and only model to feature in Leja’s advertising. Remarkable. (The image below is from May 1942).

Hjördis Genberg, Leja's top model at work in May 1942

Check out the site-map and updates page for other new additions.

Elsewhere, David and Hjordis Niven’s chalet in Chateau D’Oex came up for sale in 2018, for only the second time since Hjordis’ passing. There are a variety of excellent photos of both the exterior and interior. Hjordis’ niece Anette notes that the chalet has been renovated and looks better from when it belonged to her uncle and aunt. Happily, David’s matador paintings in the cellar are still there, as bright and colourful as ever…

The cellar in 2018, with David's paintings still bright and vivid.

And finally, while Hjordis was still residing in the chalet, I wonder if she knew that she was on a indie band’s record sleeve? In 1991, Swedish band Happy Dead Men released vinyl single “Science Fiction”, sporting a 1945 photo of Hjordis on the front cover…

As ever, your comments and contributions are welcome!



Hjördis Niven. Christmas post 2018

Hjördis Genberg, modelling Swedish fashions in 1944
Hjördis Genberg, modelling Swedish fashions in 1944. Photo: Holmén, Erik, Nordiska museets arkiv.


Well, there has been a brief hiatus on, mostly due to my own family matters. However, I am back revisiting Hjördis’ world, and on the look-out for new information about [cliche alert] her life and times.

Recent updates include two slightly tangential pages. Modelling in Sweden focuses more on Hjördis’ fellow mannequin Kim Söderlund, who used her experience to overhaul the profession from the 1950s. You’ve heard of “Twiggy”, well Kim was “The Plank”.

Swedish fashion in the 1940s is really an extension of the Life in wartime Sweden page. Hjördis worked for the Nordiska Kompaniet’s ‘Franska’ (French) department from 1943-1945, and although she didn’t work in occupied France, there was at least one Swedish correspondent in Paris, sending heavily censored fashion news back to Stockholm. Swedish designers also produced their own designs, viewed in the US with some bewilderment:

“Sweden’s fashions styled during the war are middle-road in design, stressing neither American casualness, French sophistication, nor British utilitarianism.” Well, there was a war on…

Miss Hammarström and Miss Hjördis Genberg, modelling in 1944. Photo: Holmén, Erik, Nordiska museets arkiv.
Miss Hammarström and Miss Hjördis Genberg, modelling in 1944. Photo: Holmén, Erik, Nordiska museets arkiv.

The poison pen

Elsewhere, there are updates about Hjördis’ first marriage, to the Swedish millionaire playboy Carl-Gustaf Tersmeden. These include how Igor Cassini used his society gossip column in efforts to break the marriage, starting with a gratuitous piece about Hjördis on 12th February 1947, written after spying her at a party in Miami:

“Mrs Tersmeden is vivid, many-ringed and rather beautiful and used to be a model in Stockholm. When Mr Tersmeden came over here last year on business she followed him to Tucson, Arizona, pounced on him from behind a cactus and married him, not too much against his will, I gathered.”

This lead on to Hjördis being written about for having the best figure on the beach, and a mere two months later being listed as a Swedish celebrity alongside Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman.

As for Carl, not only were his post-Hjordis dalliances listed by Igor, but also by other columnists, and with a slight jab of of poison:

“Carl Tersmeden, the blonde portly man-about-town may wander along Gold Coast smart spots with various and sundry good looking gals, but he’ll never find one as lovely as his ex-wife, the former Hjördis Tersmeden, who is now married to David Niven. Carl knows it too.”

Hjordis Genberg, 1945
Hjordis Genberg modelling for NK Franska, 1945. Photo: Ateljé Uggla AB

Anyway… Christmas!

Mind you, Carl Gustaf’s 1945 Miami Christmas with Hjordis was not the easiest, as she revealed in 1947:

“Christmas Day came. Warm sunshine instead of snow. It was not like home. My heart grew so heavy. I cried all day. I did not care for palm trees, flowers and hot sun on Christmas Day. I longed for the clean white snow, the brisk invigorating air, the sleigh bells, the church bells of Sweden. To comfort me, my husband bought me a little fir-tree, I don’t know where he got it but it did help some.”

What they also needed was some Swedish Julglögg. Twenty years later, David Niven generously shared the recipe to spice up  (or blow up) everyone’s Christmas. And here it is again: David and Hjordis Niven’s Christmas recipes.

Happy Christmas everyone, and the best of luck for 2019!

Whats new on Hjö

Hjordis Genberg in 1945 and 1943Hej!

It’s been a relatively quiet two months on, but there have been a number of additions to the site.

There is one new page since our last post – a look at wartime Sweden focussing on how events and surroundings may have impacted on Hjördis. She claimed that even as child she was keen to travel, so to have been “almost hermetically sealed from the outside world” in Sweden must have been a cause of frustration. Indeed, as soon as the war was over, Hjördis and Carl-Gustaf Tersmeden were off to the Americas in double-quick time.

Back by popular demand

Hjordis Genberg,on the cover of Vart Hem magazine, Sweden. November 1943You’ll notice a very beautiful colourised photo within the wartime Sweden feature, scanned from the cover of Vårt Hem magazine. (Colourised photos usually look fairly terrible, but this one is a work of art).

Hjördis’ first Vårt Hem cover shot (and possibly the earliest from any magazine), shows her dressed in red. Again, beautifully coloured. It was published on the 21st November 1943.  Hjördis was name-checked inside, along with a small bio:

“This week’s cover: Hjördis Genberg is a mannequin and one of the most beautiful in the capital. She is 23 years old, and when she came to Stockholm it was to go to art school. However, her stunning appearance soon led to modelling.”

Hjordis Genberg,on the cover of Vart Hem magazine, Sweden. January 1944The readers’ positive reactions showed just how striking Hjördis’ image was for her Swedish audience, and also how her popularity was exploding.

She made a return appearance on the magazine’s 9th January 1944 cover, due to popular demand.

Her “stunning appearance” led to small decorative parts in Swedish movies. The clip below is of Hjördis as a roulette-table player in Monte Carlo (filmed by  necessity in Stockholm during 1943). The movie is ‘Sjätte Skottet’.

Hjördis’ brief scene in ‘Sjätte Skottet’. In later years she would become familiar with the interior of the real casino at Monte Carlo.

Colour coordination

The beautiful ice lady, 1960‘ page has had a few updates, including David letting rip about his dislike of shopping with Hjördis, while having strong opinions on what she should buy:

“I feel an ass in a woman’s shop. Anyway, once she goes in she’s there for the day. But I do help when she’s choosing what to put on some evenings. There aren’t any colours I particularly dislike. But I am a bit jumpy about blues. And I can’t bear the cliche of blue eyes worn with the obvious blue dress – as bad as redheads who wear green.”

Another updated page from 1960 is ‘Come up and see my etchings‘, where among other things, David gets rather agitated at the thought of women posing. (As if men don’t).

"X and Y " face cream advert , 1937“And I can’t stand the poseur who knows all her best angles – or those dreadful women who never dare smile because it gives them lines around the mouth. Woe betide those glassy-eyed creatures: I feel I want to stick a knife in them, if only to wreck that dreadful fixed look.” [Take a deep breath David… Relaaaxxx…]

Hjördis must have long since known her best angles, but everyone has to start somewhere. Perhaps the most interesting item to turn up recently is a newspaper advert from 1937 for ‘X and Y’ face cream. Sadly the picture quality is very poor, but it looks very much like 17-year-old Hjördis posing for her first modelling job.

Identification parade

Hjordis Genberg, 1945

A recently identified model shot of Hjordis from her modelling days at the Nordiska Kompaniet, 1945.

The Nordiska Museet fashion exhibition is still running in Stockholm, featuring photos of Hjördis in her modelling days. There are now over 90 identified photos of her in their online collection.

The museum are keen to identify other models from the 1940s and 1950s. Maybe you can help.

From Hjördis’ contemporaries, they have now been able to label photos of her friend and mentor Kim Andersson / Söderlund, and have built Swedish language Wiki pages for both Kim and Hjördis.

What’s new and what’s coming up

Hjordis Niven in the living room of the Nivens' chalet, 1994
Hjordis Niven in the living room of the Nivens’ chalet, 1994

There have been a lot of small but interesting additions to over the last two months, mostly involving life in England.

18th February 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of Primmie Niven’s birth. To mark it there is now a page devoted to her life, accompanied by a number of ‘new’ photos that do not appear in ‘The Moon’s a Balloon’ or David’s biographies. The most recent addition is a touching obituary written by one of her friends to The Times newspaper in July 1946:

“The death of ‘Prim’ Niven came as a great sorrow to her many friends, for she was one of the gentlest and sweetest of characters. She had a great sense of humour and rare capacity for enjoying life., but wherever she might be seen – in the hunting field, in the ballroom, in the WAAF during the war – she always had a sweet, rather shy smile in her blue eyes which seemed to be watching some vision that only she could see. It was, perhaps, her quiet thoughtfulness which gave that impression. She seemed so at peace with the world and everyone, appearing at the same time to be amused by it all. Her delicate beauty brought joy to all who knew her and wherever she went she radiated happiness.”

1948 David Niven wedding
David and Hjordis, 14th January 1948. Ever wondered why there are so many different photos of them leaving the registry office? This shot explains it. The happy couple are looking up at workmen on ladders who were shouting “Good old Bonnie Prince Charlie” at David.

.Another anniversary passed on 14th January 2018: the 70th anniversary of the marriage of David Niven and Hjördis Genberg-Tersmeden at South Kensington registry office. There is a gallery of Niven-related wedding photos (mostly for anyone curious to see who looked like who), including the remarkable shot above that shows just how intense the media interest was outside the long since demolished registry office.
One of the more mysterious periods of the Nivens’ marriage is 1950-1951,when David decided to take up permanent residence in England (or so he said to the waiting press when he and Hjördis arrived in Southampton in March 1950). After a short time living in Randolph Churchill’s London residence, Hjördis was actually sent to stay in the countryside with Primmie’s parents before ending up at the newly purchased (or perhaps just rented?..) Wilcot Manor House. What was once one page  – Lady of the manor, 1950 – has now been expanded to two – There was always a chap with white gloves, 1950-1951.

Hjordis Genberg in '13 Stolar', 1945
Hjordis Genberg in ’13 Stolar’, 1945

Coming soon, still, is a look at wartime Sweden, and how it would have affected Hjordis’ life between 1939-1945. Which brings me on to Hjördis’ modelling years…

The Nordiska Museet in Stockholm opened a fashion exhibition on 10th November 2017, which features photos of Hjördis Genberg in digital installations. With the help of Hjördis’ niece Anette, we’ve been able to identify Hjördis in over 80 photos from her modelling days at NK. (These can be viewed at

The museum is keen to have other models identified from their photo collections. If you can help, please get in touch – there is a comment section under each photograph on their website.

Another valuable resource is the newly refurbished Swedish film database, available in both Swedish and English. All four of Hjördis’ small (as in very small) Swedish movie appearance are listed, along with promo shots, including a fascinating photo from ’13 Stolar’ – a movie which no longer exists in its complete form. The three models (as listed in the credits) are Hjördis Genberg, Margareta Berglund, and Marjo Bergman.

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