Stephen Boyd Golfing Tales

It’s hard to imagine that Stephen passed away 40 years ago on June 2nd! What a fine actor and a warm, Irish personality he was. He still retains a substantial worldwide fan-base (including many of you who have commented on this blog, in fact!).  I have enjoyed so many of his movies and his roles.  This blog has been devoted to sharing stories and photos about Stephen Boyd,  his movies and his life. So for this particular anniversary I thought I’d share a few fun stories about Stephen on the golf course. Why? Well, golfing was Stephen’s favorite pastime, and it was also what he was doing when he had a heart attack on June 2, 1977.

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Stephen got hooked on golfing about the time came to Hollywood full time. It was apparently actress Elana Eden, who Steve dated in early 1960, that got him interested in the sport.

Maybe it’s the influence of Elana Eden that has turned Stephen Boyd into such a wild-eyed golf enthusiast that he gets up at 6 o’clock practically every morning to get out to the links. – Louella Parsons, 10 March 1960, Philadelphia Inquirer 

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Soon Stephen was golfing at just about any moment he could- including overseas film locations, where he spent most of the early 1960’s.

“It’s crazy,” new golf addict Steve Boyd told me. “While working in Madrid this summer I played a lot of golf. One day I saw George Sanders on an opposite fairway. His caddy was lugging a bag full of clubs and Sanders was swinging away like Arnold Palmer. But he was playing without a ball.

“Later at the clubhouse, I asked him, ‘What the devil were you doing out there?’

“He explained that he was off his game and it was his method of returning to a more relaxed swing. As a matter of fact, playing without a ball in Spain is a great idea,” Boyd chuckled, “You have to search for it even if you hit it straight down the fairway. What they call a fairway looks like our rough.”

Boyd was in Madrid for filming of “Fall of the Roman Empire.” Since becoming a golf nut, with a Palm Springs home only a wedge shot from a country club, he refers to the movie as “that golf picture.”

The first letters of the words in the title, he points out, spell out “FORE”

At the moment Boyd is swinging away on Palm Springs courses after completing “The Third Secret.” in England. He once scored a 76, but has not broken 80 recently. – Erskine Johnson, 26 January 1964, The Jackson Sun

Stephen usually preferred to golf alone or with close friends, and he enjoyed the silence and calm of the golf course.

The actor says he spends half of his weekends golfing at Palm Springs- alone.

“In three and a half hours on the course along I play a better game than when I’m with a foursome. There’s no tension, no nerves. And at the end of that time, all your problems are gone.” – Gene Hhandsaker, 25 September, 1966 Oakland Tribune, Stephen Boyd ‘Filmland Loner’

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Another fun story, which I am sure Stephen told many times over, happened during the filming of “Slaves” during the summer 1968. The movie was filmed near Shreveport, LA in July and August of that year. It must have been hideously hot and humid, but this did not deter Stephen from golfing!

Stephen Boyd took time off from work on “The Slaves” to play golf at the nearby Shreveport, La., Country Club. And he got a hole-in-one he’ll be talking about for years. He got his ace on the 165-yard third hold when he belted his seven iron three feet in front of the pin and, “like it had eyes,” Stephen sighed, “the ball took one bounce and dropped in.”

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Bravo Stephen! A Hole-in-One!

Stephen appears in two of his 70’s movies practicing his golf moves (you wonder how demanding these movie schedules were if Stephen had time incorporate putting and swinging during actual filming!)

A scene from “A Million for a Blonde” in 1972—Stephen’s character in the film gets to mix a little romance with golfing here with an unnamed actress. Lucky lady!

 And also “The African Story” from 1971, where Stephen gets to show off very impressive golf swing during a scene with Marie Du Toit.

Stephen’s last day came on a golf course near his home in Tarzana, California called Porter Valley Country Club (photo below). It is located about 10 miles due north of his house. Stephen had just returned from Hawaii from the filming of the tenth season premiere episode of “Hawaii Five-O”. He was getting ready to film “The Wild Geese” with producer Euan Lloyd and a slew of great international stars, including Roger Moore (RIP!), Richard Burton and Richard Harris. Tragically, he would not get to make this film. It was a Thursday morning when Stephen decided to go golfing with his wife, Liz Mills. Somewhere between the fifth and sixth tees Stephen felt ill in the golf cart and collapsed. He had experienced a fatal heart attack, and he died a short time later.

Hopefully Stephen Boyd is still golfing in heaven as I write this blog. It was a tragedy to lose Stephen so early in life (only 45 years old), but the fact that he was doing something he loved with someone he loved (his wife Liz Mills) adds a little consolation to the tragedy.

RIP Stephen Boyd. Your fans still appreciate you and your work!

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