Stephen Boyd attends the London Premiere of “Cleopatra” July 31, 1963

On July 31 of 1963, Stephen attended the London opening of the  Twentieth Century Fox epic, Cleopatra. What a good sport! Stephen was originally set to play the main male character Mark Anthony, but due to Taylor’s long illness during the filming of the movie in London during 1960, Stephen,  as well as most of the rest of the original cast, moved on to other projects.  Stephen was in London filming “The Third Secret” during the summer of 1963. Apparently Burton and Taylor both boycotted the London premiere because of the scathing London critical reviews of Taylor’s performance at the time.

As for Boyd’s opinion – from The Sunday Express London on August 11, 1963:

“My only regret in not being in it was not working with Elizabeth Taylor,” he said. “I think she’s marvelous.

“I remember one day when several of us were reading for the part, and Elizabeth was ill, and we went around to her house when she was just, as it were, getting up. And God ! She’s the most beautiful thing. You know what you look like getting up ?” Mr. Boyd collapsed his face and looked extremely unwell. “Not Elizabeth. This vision came out of the bedroom”.

“The only thing I didn’t like about Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra was her make-up – all that heavy eye shadow and stuff. Ugh ! I can see why English girls wear so much of it : you’re walking up the Kings-road in the cold, and you’ve got to do sumpin to cover up the purple.

“But I’ve never liked a lot of make-up on women. You don’t know how to break through. It’s almost like being in prison. You know ? Let-me-know-when-I-touch-skin. What do they put so much on for ? Huhh ? It takes longer to take off. And time is a very important thing” (http://leglatin.pagesperso-orange.fr/boyd/boyde.htm)

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Look for Stephen at about :19 seconds into the video….

 

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Stephen Boyd, “The Quiet Man” and Maureen O’Hara

From news snippets in May of 1969, it looks as if Stephen Boyd was set to film The Quiet Man, a remake of the famous John Wayne classic movie set in Ireland. I have seen some of the movie and read the full short story by Maurice Walsh. I actually like the novel best, and I can see how this would have been a brilliant role for Boyd. In the book, the ‘quiet man’ , whose name in the novel is Paddy Bawn Enright,  is described as having broad shoulders, deep set blue eyes and a moody brow.

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The movie was to be for National Television Associates (so perhaps a TV movie?).  Production was set for April 15th in Ireland in a production agreement between Bernard Tabakin of NTA (National Television Associates) and Michael Bromhead of Alliance International Film Corp. of London, according to the Los Angeles Times (March 21, 1969). John Wilson was set to direct the project. Apparently when Boyd was in London, set to film this, he hopped on a plane and took off for Paris for a few days. Rumor has it he was visiting Brigitte Bardot. Nothing is heard of again about this production, sadly.

Now we can only speculate as to who would be playing the fine Irish lass Ellen Roe  O’Danaher in this movie? Samantha Eggar comes to mind as a good choice, but that’s just my imagination.

Interestingly, Boyd seems to have had an admirer in the original The Quiet Man star, movie actress Maureen O’Hara! Maureen once lamented the lack of male cinema studs in 1960, but she specifically pointed out Stephen as being “an example of the old fashioned kind of virile male star you don’t see in pictures now.” Maureen was also on hand to proffer her fellow Irishman a kiss when he became a U.S. citizen during a ceremony in Los Angeles in 1963. O’Hara came from Dublin and Stephen from Belfast.

Stephen Boyd Sings on the Dinah Shore Chevy Show, March 13, 1960

Having just viewed this show myself for the first time ever ( yes, my heart is still pounding!), I must also agree with Hedda Hopper. Stephen oozes charm in this show, and he has radiant chemistry with the always lovely Dinah Shore. He gets to flirtatiously hold a flustered Dinah in his arms, ride a 1960’s ‘Chev-iot’ (chariot) with Dinah, and most fun of all, he gets to sing and dance! Boyd’s voice is deep and melodious – he sings like a dream. He gets to sing a beautiful version of “The Leprechaun Song” and a duet of “Molly Malone” with Dinah. Dinah also sings a verse of  Stephen’s favorite Irish love song, “I Know My Love.” Then, to top it off, Stephen and Dinah get to step dance – Irish- Riverdance style. It’s a wonderful tribute to Stephen’s talent. Click below YouTube links to view Stephen’s segments, or the full show is on DailyMotion.com, which aired recently on JLTV.com.  Thanks to one of my best blog followers for the tip which helped me track this awesome TV show down!

Leprechaun Song Lyrics

In a shady nook, one moonlit night, a leprechaun I spied
With a scarlet cap and coat of green, a cruisc'n by his side
'Twas "tic, tac tic" his hammer went, upon a tiny shoe
I laughed to think of a purse of gold, but the fairy was laughing too.

With tiptoe step and beating heart, softly I drew nigh
There was mischief in his merry face, a twinkle in his eye
He hammered and sang with his tiny voice, and drank his mountain dew
I laughed to think he was caught at last, but the fairy was laughing too.

As quick as thought I seized the elf, "Your fairy purse!" I cried
"The purse," he said, "is in the hand of the lady by your side"
I turned to look, the elf was gone, then what was I to do?
I laughed to think what a fool I'd been, but the fairy was laughing too

“America’s Idea of Irish Too Theatrical, Says Boyd” – Stephen Boyd Interview Mar 9, 1960


The Galveston Daily News, 09 March 1960

Irish actor Stephen Boyd, looking forward to his St. Patrick’s Day singing debut, says America’s impression of fellow Gaels is off base.

“The conception American’s have of Irishman is stage or professional,” the handsome Boyd claimed, “For instance, I’m supposed to start the day off by saying ‘top of the morning to you. And when a fellow is introduced as an Irishman, people say something that’s supposed to be Irish. He might not even know what they’re talking about

“Take an expression like ‘sure and begorrah,’ I don’t even know what that means. But lots of people here might expect me to say it.”

Boyd, who celebrates St. Patrick’s Day by making his TV singing debut on Dinah Shore’s show next Sunday, claimed the annual festivities are a good excuse for Irishmen to get together.

“I’ve never seen an American celebration of St. Patrick’s Day,” he said, “But, to me, it’s another excuse to celebrate.

“And Irishman always welcome an excuse to celebrate with their countrymen,” he added.

As for his own St. Pat’s Day plans, Stephen won’t even wear a green tie.  Speaking about singing with Dinah, Boyd recalled the first time he ever sang in London for money – a total of $3.

“I was a busker,” he said, explaining that a busker is a fellow who goes up and down the street singing to people waiting in theatre lines.

“When I got finished singing, I passed the hat down the line of people and collected $3.”

That’s not all Stephen got. He was also run off the street by fellow buskers.

“What I didn’t know was that the buskers had a union and I wasn’t a member,” he laughed,” So, I got chased and that ended by career as a busker. But I needed the money. I hadn’t eaten in a long time.”

Boyd’s first class acting job in the mammoth production of Ben Hur means he’s getting a lot more than $3 for his singing stint with Dinah – and he’s also eating regularly.

“My salary is in the five figure bracket for singing three days,” quipped Steve, now among the highest paid buskers of all time.

Stephen Boyd- “Tiger by the Tail” 1959-1960 articles

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This is a fascinating article released just as Boyd’s career was rocketing  at the opening of Ben Hur in late 1959. Famed  columnist Hedda Hopper, always a major fan of Boyd’s, highlights some of Stephen’s persistent characteristics – specifically his desire to have more character roles instead of leading men parts. Hedda describes Boyd has having “terrific screen impact and vitality beyond any actor I know.” That is certainly high praise! This article also includes Boyd’s notorious comment that “I won’t work in a brass hat to the end of my days,” a comment which did not please his studio Twentieth Century Fox, as they had several ‘brass hat’ roles lined up for him, including “The Story of Ruth”, “The King Must Die”, and perhaps even an off-shoot Messala project. Stephen had already talked to the studio about playing Mark Anthony at this point (late 1959) for the upcoming Cleopatra. It was a role he would eventually sign up for. This is also the comment which may have in fact prevented Stephen from even being nominated for an Oscar for his performance as Messala in Ben Hur. Stephen did win the Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actor for Ben Hur, but he was strangely overlooked for an Academy Award. See below for Stephen’s opinion about being overlooked as a Supporting Actor by the Academy for Ben Hur (See below article “Supporting Actors Pose Movie Woe”.)  Stephen also mentions, interestingly, that he would have liked to have played a few famous Lawrence Olivier roles for live TV -including  Rebecca and Wuthering Heights. I have always wished that Stephen could have played Heathcliff! I am surprised this movie never got remade in the 50’s or 60’s. Stephen would have been a perfect choice!

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Boyd in Woman Obsessed, 1959– the closest Stephen got to a ‘Heathcliff’ type role

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Released by the Chicago Tribune, November 29, 1959

Even the mainstream press was shocked that Boyd was overlooked for his performance as “Messala” in Ben Hur by the Academy. He wasn’t even nominated. Stephen was quite outspoken at the time, and this article by Bob Thomas is full of rebellious Boyd quotes such as this.

 Yet he drew no Oscar nomination, because he had star billing in the film. “Ridiculous!” declares the outspoken Irishman, “I was a supporting player in the picture. Every other role in Ben Hur was in support of Chuck Heston. Why, not counting the chariot scene, my role lasted a half-hour on the screen. Now how can you call that a starring role?”

Luckily for us, Ben Hur still is well known by movie-goers, and Stephen’s amazing performance as Messala sometimes still gets referred to (mistakenly) as an Oscar winning performance! Frankie Fane would be proud.

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Corpus Christi Caller Times 23 March, 1960