“The Bashful Genius”- Stephen Boyd returns to the stage in 1967

Stephen Boyd grew up on the stage, but once he came to Hollywood he did not return to the stage- except once. In mid-1967 Stephen was asked to star in a off-Broadway production of The Bashful Genius. This was a play concerning the life of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. Stephen was a perfect choice since he was Irish, and he started to grow a beard for the part. The play toured in the summer of 1967. It was featured at venue’s like the Historic Elitch Theater stage in Denver Colorado, Aug 7-12, 1967 Unfortunately the play had a short run, and Stephen was back making movies. I have not been able to find any reviews of the play, but below are some nice pictures from the time it was running.

This is a rare July 1967 playbill from the out-of-town tryout of the new HAROLD CALLAN play “THE BASHFUL GENIUS” at the Playhouse in the Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (The production played the Summer Stock circuit in the summer of 1967, but closed on the road failing to arrive in New York. (From Amazon.com description)

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Stephen Boyd and Hedda Hopper

During his time in Hollywood, Stephen Boyd would sometimes get himself into trouble due to his open honesty and frank opinions. One person, however, was always on his side and became his very powerful advocate and ally – Hedda Hopper. Hedda was a omnipresent Hollywood presence and a flamboyant personality. She wrote a famous Hollywood  gossip column, and competed with her rival columnist Louella Parsons. If Hedda wanted to ruin you, she had the power to do so. If she loved you, she could make you. Hedda adored Stephen, and she recognized his talent from way back when Stephen appeared in The Man Who Never Was in 1956. Hedda featured ‘sexy Steve’ in many of her columns, and Stephen would frequently escort Hedda around town to social events. In other words, it was a mutual love affair. Stephen appeared on her 1960 TV special called “Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood” with the two original actors from the 1929 movie Ben-Hur – Ramon Navarro and Francis X. Bushman. Also, Hedda had a great cameo in The Oscar with Stephen, which was filmed in 1965 – shortly before her death in early 1966.

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Hedda’s humorous account of Stephen’s marriage in 1958

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Hedda Hooper visits the set of Lisa (The Inspector) in 1961 and steals all of Stephen’s attention away from Dolores Hart.

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Sample of one of Hedda’s many gossip columns featuring Stephen Boyd.

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The Oscar (1966) Directed by Russell Rouse Shown from left: Stephen Boyd, Hedda Hopper, Jean Hale

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In 1963, Hedda visits the set of The Fall of the Roman Empire with Stephen and Sophia Loren.

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What’s the Third Secret about Patricia Neal and Stephen Boyd?

Actress Patricia Neal was supposed to be one of the patients Stephen Boyd, as Alec Stedman, investigates during the movie The Third Secret. The scenes of Ms. Neal were filmed but unfortunately,  due to editing constraints, all of her scenes were cut from the final film. Which is a shame- I would have loved to see Stephen and Patricia on screen together! In fact, since she was going to be one of the patients, in the final edit of the movie, you can catch overdubs where Pamela Franklin is saying ‘four’, but you can tell she is saying ‘five’.

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Stephen Boyd- Censored!!!! “Imperial Venus”

Believe it or not, Stephen Boyd has the unusual honor of being the first actor to have his movie banned for male nudity. The movie was Imperial Venus, which Stephen filmed in Rome in mid-1962, right before he went over to Spain to film The Fall of the Roman Empire. The film is an epic story about Pauline Bonaparte, the sister of Napoleon. Pauline is played by Gina Lollobrigida. It is romantic and beautifully filmed (if you can find the wide-screen version, that is!) The scene in question is a farcical sequence in the movie when Stephen’s character, a solider named Canouville, returns from a long, long journey. He is so exhausted that he falls into bed and Gina cannot wake him up. He eventually gets carried into a bathtub (still nude!) where he eventually awakens.  It is a scene that can’t really be edited or the humor of the moment would be lost. Apparently the movie censors in America found the idea of Stephen lying prone on his back without any clothes on, except for a boot on his right foot and a white sheet across his pelvic area,  too much for American audiences (talk about a hot factor!).  The movie was never released in the United States in 1963, although it was released in Europe. In fact, the first time is appeared in America in theaters was very briefly in December 1972- about 10 years after it was filmed!

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1972 Ad for Imperial Venus below

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Stephen, Sophia and Roman Statues

Sophia Loren and Stephen Boyd were two of the most exquisitely beautiful looking actors when they made The Fall of the Roman Empire together in 1963. I love this movie like no other, and I also love Roman History, Art, and especially Roman Statues. Here are some great pictures of our two gorgeous actors looking at similarly gorgeous statues. Stephen is in the Prado Museum in Madrid in late 1962 or early 1963, before the bleach job!

 

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Stephen Boyd, the First Mark Anthony in Elizabeth Taylor’s “Cleopatra”

 

In early 1960, after the stupendous success of Ben-Hur, Stephen Boyd was a very hot commodity. Of all the actors who tried out to be the main love interest of Elizabeth Taylor in the soon to be filmed epic Cleopatra, Stephen Boyd won the part of Mark Anthony. Peter Finch was Taylor’s personal choice for Julius Caesar. Filming started near London in the May of 1960 and dragged on for months and months. The weather in London was damp and dreary (it’s not Egypt, okay!), and Elizabeth Taylor became deathly ill. Hardly any usable footage was made. Peter Finch was about to lose his mind, and Stephen patiently waited and eventually came back home to Hollywood in December. The Director and most of the main actors finally quit, and the entire project had to be started over again, this time without Stephen. The film would eventually be released in 1963 with Richard Burton cast as Mark Anthony- and the rest is Hollywood History.

Stephen’s one regret for having not completed Cleopatra was missing out on the chance to work with Elizabeth Taylor, who he called ‘a dream’. Stephen had put in a lot of work studying Anthony, and when asked if he would return to the project in July of 1960, he had this to say.

“I am interested if Anthony is played as a warrior, as he was in the original script. But I’m not interested if he is only a lover. He can be shown as a warrior making love. But no actor can convincingly play a war-like figure as a lover. Marlon Brando found that out when he did Napoleon in ‘Desiree.”

Here are a few pictures of Stephen in costume from the filming of Cleopatra, and a short video which shows some footage which was recorded.

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Stephen Boyd and Hope Lange

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Rumors ran wild during the filming of “The Best of Everything” in early 1959 as Hope was on the verge of a break-up with her husband Don Murray, and Stephen had just officially divorced Mariella di Sarzana. Tabloids would hint that Boyd was the cause of the break-up, which Boyd would vehemently deny.

A doll named Hope Lane is something else again. Before Steve left for Europe, they were dating and she sent money here for a pal to buy him ‘the biggest bottle of champagne in all of France’ on his recent birthday. “But how can it be a big thing?” Boyd asks when you ask him about it. “She’s married.” But separated, you know, from Don Murray, whose romantic interests are elsewhere these days. So if you dare to mention, which I did, Hollywood’s flair for mate-changing, Boyd will smile: “Hope Lange isn’t Hollywood”  (Ocala Star Banner, Aug 1, 1960)

From Screenland Magazine, 1960

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From Modern Screen in 1960 concerning Hope, “In spite of her denials, Hope had been infatuated with Stephen Boyd. He’s a tremendously vital man with an exciting animal magnetism most women find hard to resist. I doubt if she ever thought of divorcing Don then, but Stephen made her terribly aware of the excitement lacking in her marriage…”

From a VANITY FAIR Article in 2004 concerning the making of Best of Everything, Hope Lange talked about her relationship with Stephen Boyd

As for romance on the set, if the bungalow was busy, it wasn’t with any of the stars. Hope Lange and Stephen Boyd lunched daily together in the commissary, and because of these lunches several columnists began to imply that the two were in love. Lange, then married to actor Don Murray, “became so upset over these rumors,” wrote Photoplay, “that she nearly suffered a nervous breakdown.” But of Boyd, who died in 1977, Lange had only fond memories (and she still wondered what aftershave lotion he wore): “During the film we had a great camaraderie. He had that wonderful Irish charm, and wonderful humor. And anyone who has humor I’m a sucker for.” (http://www.joancrawfordbest.com/magvanityfair304.htm)

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Even two years later in 1961, when Lange had been linked to actor Glenn Ford, Stephen Boyd took her to the premiere of “The Children’s Hour ” and they danced the night away.

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