“Stephen Boyd Captures Her Fancy, His Ire” – 1968 Newspaper Feature

Sadly, the general public today seems to have forgotten about Stephen Boyd. But when you look back in time at newspaper articles and magazines, Stephen was such a well-known celebrity in the 1960’s! The buzz Stephen created when he hit the screen in “Ben Hur” as the complex villain Messala truly kept humming for an entire decade after the movie came out.

This is a fascinating article from the Baltimore Sun on February 18, 1968, that relates the simple excitement a British housewife experiences when Stephen Boyd is set to film a scene for “Assignment K” in their apartment.

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From a Window In Fleet Street: “Stephen Boyd Captures Her Fancy, His Ire”

by Charles Flowers

LONDON. “Well, too bad,” he smirked. “It looks like Brigitte Bardot beat you out.”

“Beat me out of what?” she asked.

“Beat you out of Stephen Boyd,” he said. He handed his wife a tabloid newspaper containing a large picture of Brigitte being fondled by Stephen Boyd in Southern Spain. Stephen Boyd is probably her new boy friend, the article said.

She studied the pictures and then said in a wistful smile: “I have my memories.”

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

It all began nearly a year ago when a movie company was filming “Assignment K,” with Stephen Boyd and Sir Michael Redgrave.

“Guess what?” she demanded one night when the husband came home for dinner. “A movie company wants to rent one room of the house for one afternoon. Stephen Boyd will rest and be made up in the room while the camera men set up and all. The house two doors away is supposed to be his London home and he will be filmed going in and out of it.”

“What’s the movie about?”

A SPY STORY

“A spy story. Stephen Boyd is the agent and Sir Michael is his boss- the head, or chief, or whatever.”

Two or three weeks passed until, one night, she said that a date had been set for the filming in their alley, called a mews.

“Be sure to put on clean pillow cases,” he said, “I’ll bet Stephen Boyd always rests on clean pillow cases.”

IN THE BEDROOM

The arranged date had to be postponed, though, because the movie company was having trouble blowing up a house out in Hampstead for another scene. In mid-afternoon one day the following week, the wife phoned to say that demolition in Hampstead had been successful and that the film company had moved in.  “He’s upstairs in the bedroom,” she said.

The husband went home early for dinner, finding the mews full of cameras, generators, electrical cables and a huge chuck wagon to feed the 40 or 50 technicians and directors. His wife had asked a few friends in for dinner to share the occasion and perhaps her a glimpse of Stephen Boyd.

When she peeked, she said, a girl was putting makeup on Stephen Boyd while he read aloud from Dr. Spock’s baby-care book. Stephen  Boyd and the girl were laughing, she said.

FORGOT THE BOOKS

The husband groaned. “I thought of clean pillow cases but forgot to mention to put some impressive books in the room. We could have borrowed some.”

Shortly after dinner, huge, dazzling lights were turned on and Stephen Boyd was summoned. He emerged fro his afternoon of rest and merriment, tall, very handsome and considerate. “How are the children?” he asked an assistant camera man, Doubtless, he had been influenced by Dr. Spock.

Stephen Boyd walked to the end of the mews, where police were holding out traffic and gogglers and where a car awaited him. His leather heels clicked properly on the bricks,and he smoked and flicked his cigarette as an actor should.

“Tell me when you’re happy, Cyril,” a camera man called.

ROLL IT

After Stephen Boyd got into the car and turned on the lights, Cyril said he was happy. Stephen Boyd was given the sign and the cameras began turning.

Stephen Boyd drove rapidly up the mews, stopped in front of one of the houses, turned off the lights, picked up his trench coat off the seat, climbed out of the car and went into the house.

They went through the thing once more, turned off the lights, began packing up and Stephen Boyd went whereever handsome movie actors go at night.

“Stephen Boyd can really drive,” the wife said.

MORE GOOD NEWS

“I’ve got more good news,” he said as his wife kept glancing at the picture of Stephen Boyd and Brigitte Bardot.

“Such as what?”

“Assignment K has just opened and I saw it this afternoon. I genuinely am reluctant to tell you, both he and it aren’t much.”

“I’ll decide that,” she told him after advising him that he was supposed to work in the afternoons rather than go to movies. “You can baby-sit Saturday while I go to see Stephen Boyd, who has been in my bedroom. Dr. Spock is still there.”

She smirked last and best.

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Stephen Boyd Fan Tribute Webpage….Le site Internet de la famille LE GLATIN

http://leglatin.pagesperso-orange.fr/boyd/boyde.htm

This is a great tribute page published online many years ago! This may be the first ever Stephen Boyd fan page there was on the web. It is packed full of Stephen photos, articles and movie information. Take a look! Below are some of the pictures you will find on this webpage.

Above, Stephen Boyd as ‘Stanley’ in the British Stage production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” 1953.

Stephen Boyd poses in full costume as Mark Anthony in “Cleopatra” 1960.

Stephen Boyd and Miss Brigitte Bardot during “The Night Heaven Fell”

Stephen Boyd and Gina Lollobrigida in “Imperial Venus” 1962

Dolores Hart and Stephen Boyd at “Lisa” premiere 1962

Sean Connery and Stephen Boyd filming “Shalako” in 1968

Stephen Boyd as Messala in Ben Hur, 1959

Stephen Boyd as Livius in “The Fall of the Roman Empire”, 1964

“Patience of a saint, eyes like blue sin” – Hollywood mystery actress describes Stephen Boyd

In 1962, Hedda Hopper asked a mystery Hollywood glamour girl (I speculate it was Joan Collins, but that’s just a guess!) what she thought of several of Hollywood’s leading men. He is what our mystery girl said about Stephen Boyd:

Stephen Boyd. Very exciting performer. Patience of a saint, eyes like blue sin, in a huge head which gives him the appearance of being bigger than he is. He is sensual, but not sinable. You have the feeling that nothing selfish or mean crosses his mind. He will have a long and successful career.

In CINEMONDE Magazine in 1964, Stephen’s other famous female co-stars were asked to describe their leading man’s vivid blue eyes.

 Jugez ! Taille : 1 m 85 pour 77 kg ; boucles châtain doré et des yeux bleus comme ces lacs de l’Irlande dont il est issu. De ces yeux, Sophia Loren elle-même a dit : “Ils sont un irrésistible mélange de volonté magnétique, de séduction passionné, de poésie aventureuse.” Susan Hayward, avec qui il tourna Woman obsessed, affirmait crûment, elle : “Stephen possède une virilité du tonnerre.” …. Dans ce film, ils formèrent un couple splendide, et B.B. reconnaît aujourd’hui : “Boyd a ces yeux extraordinaires de volonté rêveuse, d’un bleu si pur et lumineux, qui furent ceux des frères Kennedy…”

http://leglatin.pagesperso-orange.fr/boyd/boyde.htm

Judge! Size: 1 m 85 for 77 kg; Golden chestnut curls and blue eyes like those lakes of Ireland from which it is derived. From these eyes, Sophia Loren herself said: “They are an irresistible mixture of magnetic will, passionate seduction, adventurous poetry.” Susan Hayward, with whom he turned Woman obsessed, said bluntly, she: “Stephen has a virility of thunder.” …. In this film (Night Heaven Fell), they formed a splendid couple, and B.B.  (Brigitte Bardot) recognizes today: “Boyd has these extraordinary eyes of dreamy will, of a blue so pure and luminous, which were those of the brothers Kennedy …”

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Los Angeles Times, September 3, 1962

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Stephen Boyd, filming “Lisa” (The Inspector), 1961

The movie “Lisa” (The Inspector) was filmed in London, The Netherlands and Wales in the summer of 1961. Stephen Boyd has been languishing for months waiting to film “Cleopatra”, so by the summer of 1961 he was more than ready to start the filming of a post Nazi- era drama with Dolores Hart. In Stephen’s unauthorized biography by Joe Cushnan, Cushnan quotes the author of “The Inspector”, writer Jan De Hertog.  In  the novel, the Inspector, Peter Jongman, is an older man, and there is no romance between himself and the girl he is rescuing, Lisa Held. The author had envisioned an actor like Spencer Tracey in the role. Obviously, 20th Century Fox wanted to add some level of romance between the characters, so they cast the much younger Stephen Boyd in the role of Jongman. Apparently Natalie Wood was the top choice for Lisa Held, but casting eventually led to actress Dolores Hart as the concentration camp survivor and heroine in search of Palestine.  As Dolores Hart described it to journalist Sheilah Graham, “Now I’ve got Anthony, and Cleo has King Arthur” – meaning Richard Burton.  Boyd and Hart had both already met and acted together about a year and a half earlier on the Playhouse 90 WWI drama, “To The Sound of Trumpets”.  This movie was directed by Philip Dunne and included a host of top notch character actors; Finley Currie, Leo McKern, Donald Pleasance, Harry Andrews, Hugh Griffith and Robert Stevens. Much of the filming took place in damp weather in the Amsterdam and the Netherlands as the film crew searched for idyllic Dutch scenery. The filming then moved onto London, which is where most of the later Tangier scenes were filmed on a soundstage. The dramatic desert exterior shots of what is supposedly Palestine actually took place in Wales at Three Cliffs Bay. The crew and cast had to be rescued by a local lifeboat at one point when the converted trawler they were using was stranded in mud. The skipper feared the craft might roll over, so Boyd, Hart and director Dunne, and 32 other people had to be evacuated. Boyd and Hart also became close friends during the filming of this movie, to such an extent that Hart became quite enamoured with her co-star. At the time, Hart would deny any romance, but later in her autobiography “From the Ear To The Heart” she would confess that she on the verge was falling in love with Boyd, and was heartbroken when he rejected her overtures. The two would remain friends for many years after the filming of the picture, even after Hart made a life-long commitment as a Catholic nun in 1963.

The Courier Journal (Louisville Kentucky) featured an extensive look at the making of “Lisa” in January 7, 1962.

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Stephen Boyd’s Most Romantic Role? “Imperial Venus” with Gina Lollobrigida, 1962

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Happy Valentine’s week everyone! I thought this would be the perfect time to feature a blog about what I consider to be Stephen Boyd’s most romantic role – as the Hussar (cavalry officer)  Jules de Canouville in the Napoleonic epic “Imperial Venus”. The movie itself was a career project for Gina Lollobrigida, who campaigned to make the film as far back as 1956. The story is based on the real life of Napoleon’s sister Pauline Bonaparte and the novel by Edgar Maass called “Imperial Venus”. Apparently it was about to be made in early 1958 when Gina pulled out of the filming. The producer had promised to cast her opposite a ‘famed Hollywood actor’, but Gina balked when she discovered Lex Barker was chosen as Canouville. Lex had previously starred as Tarzan. Gina and her husband refused to film the movie as they considered this casting would disparage the project.  “I do not wish to be made love to by Tarzan,” Lollobrigida would say at the time. Gina sued the producer, and Barker accused Lollobrigida of libel! Years later Gina would run into Stephen at a Hollywood party, and alas,  she had finally found her perfect ‘Canouville’.  The filming occurred during the summer and fall of 1962. Stephen was somewhat frustrated with the haphazard Italian film schedule, but had nothing but good things to say about Gina and her professionalism. Not too many anecdotes exist about the filming of the movie, except this one :

“I’ll never forget the big moment of passion between Gina Lollobrigida and myself in ‘Imperial Venus’. I had to grab Gina, kiss her so passionately that our knees gave out from under us, and we sank gradually and gracefully to the floor–it said in the script. And that’s the way the director insisted we play it.

“What actually happened is that I’d grab Gina and she’d swoon. But as we tried to sink to the floor out knees would bump together, we’d have to fight to keep out balance and rehearsal after rehearsal we’d wind up roaring with laughter. Censors? They never crossed our mind.”  (Stephen Boyd Interview, Sept. 11, 1966 by Dorothy Manners, Anecdotes of Sexy Scenes)

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The passion onscreen between Gina and Stephen, in my opinion, is marvelous and feels truly romantic and genuine. The fact that Pauline’s romance with Canouville starts later in the movie makes it all that more urgent and poignant. The lushness of the Napoleonic settings and decor is truly beautiful in this film. Stephen wears a magnificent looking ‘Hussar’ uniform.  “The uniform of the Napoleonic hussars included the pelisse, a short fur-edged jacket which was often worn slung over one shoulder in the style of a cape and was fastened with a cord. This garment was extensively adorned with braiding (often gold or silver for officers) and several rows of buttons” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hussar). Gina Lollobrigida is cast perfectly as the temperamental princess. Pauline stows Canouville away in her ornate boudoir, and the passion between the two lovers continues to build until Pauline’s heart-break when Canouville is forced to part with her. Boyd’s Canouville is charming, reckless, sensual,  carefree, and tender. Boyd himself described the role as an ‘Errol Flynn’ like character. Sadly, American audiences were deprived of seeing this movie due to censorship. Apparently the bedroom scene of Boyd stripped naked but covered by a sheet was too shocking, or European, for the US censors to allow, and the film was never released in the United Stated until 1971. Banned for ‘male nudity’! https://stephenboydblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/stephen-boyd-censored/

Luckily the gorgeous wide-screen version of the movie has been somewhat restored and released on Italian DVD – https://www.amazon.it/Venere-Imperiale-Stephen-Boyd/dp/B01J4UP4HK.

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“Will Success Spoil Stephen Boyd?”- Interview with Stephen Boyd by Joe Hyams, 1962

This is the second interview by Joe Hyams of Stephen Boyd. Apparently Joe Hyams found Stephen to be “a bore” in this interview,  which only happened two years after the first one (see https://stephenboydblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/good-at-research-stephen-boyd-serious-in-romantic-ventures-by-joe-hyams-interview-from-1960/). In my opinion,  however, Boyd hasn’t changed, as Joe Hyams seems to think. By this point in his career, Stephen has more to lose, and so obviously he’s taking things very seriously. Or maybe Stephen didn’t feel like turning up the Irish charm for this conversation or giving any tabloid fodder to Hyams! Anyway, in this interview Stephen talks about his financial security, and praises the acting ability (and figure) of his most recent co-star Doris Day. Stephen had also just completed filming “Imperial Venus” in Italy with Gina Lollobrigida and was just about to start the filming of “The Fall of the Roman Empire” in Spain.

Star Tribune, October 30, 1962