The Great Sphinx of Giza and Stephen Boyd, 1961

Mark Anthony is sent to Egypt!

MAGarticlesmile (13)

In April of 1961, Stephen Boyd had just moved into his newly purchased house in Tarzana, California, a ranch-style home which was built in 1949. Stephen would own this home until his death in 1977.  Stephen had been lingering on for quite some time waiting for the call back to the set of “Cleopatra” in London, which he had left in December of 1960. The full cast and crew had been waiting forever for an ailing Elizabeth Taylor to get better. Eventually the project would be revamped with a new cast, director and location. But during this time, the Twentieth Century Fox moguls were talking to the government of Egypt for the possibility of filming some scenes there (obviously – this is “Cleopatra”!). The Egyptian government was under the sway of strongman President Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein, who had overthrown the Egyptian monarchy in 1952.  Interestingly, because Elizabeth Taylor had recently married singer Eddie Fisher and converted to Judaism, Egypt did not want her coming to their country because she was now Jewish. Nasser also banned all Elizabeth Taylor movies in the country! This made the possibility of filming some of “Cleopatra” in Egypt rather awkward for Fox Studios. (Los Angeles Times, July 29, 1960)

cleofilming

The filming of Cleopatra in London, September of 1960. Stephen can be seen on the right in full  Mark Anthony costume. Elizabeth Taylor on the horse? It’s hard to say.

Fox Chairman Spyros Skouras was still trying other ways to flatter the ego of the Egyptian President. At this time, Egypt itself was prepping for an exciting new tourist gimmick – a sound and light show at the Great Pyramids of Giza. The light show (which I have seen myself in person when I was in Egypt in 2009), is an impressive display of multi-colored lights highlighting both the Great Sphinx and the Pyramids, and the sound show (at least in 2009) was narrated by actor Omar Sharif telling the tale of the ancient Pyramids and Sphinx. The inauguration of the sound and light show was set for the end of April and, along with other dignitaries and celebrities, Twentieth Century Fox decided to round up a few of its own (since Nasser was demanding glitch and glamour) and shuffled a few actors off to Egypt to attend the ceremony. Because Stephen had been part of the original cast of “Cleopatra” (he was still technically scheduled to be Mark Anthony, as he had not yet dropped out of the role), he was an ideal choice for this publicity tour. He was joined by svelte, blonde beauty Barbara Eden, soon to be of “Bewitched” fame, and TV star Julie Newmar, who would be better known later on as Catwoman from the 1960’s  “Batman” TV series.

Julie Newmar, Barbara Eden, Stephen Boyd

Stephen got the call from Fox executives almost immediately after he was moving into his home. His reaction was – not pleased, according to Hedda Hopper.

Steve Boyd was just moving into his Encino home when he was ordered on a plane to Egypt where he’ll attend ceremonies inaugurating light and sound on the Sphinx and Pyramids outside of Cairo. He’ll be gone ten days, said: “I’m leaving my home in utter and abysmal confusion.”  (Los Angeles Times, April 13, 1961)

Stephen was dutiful, however, and traveled to Egypt as the handsome, male film celebrity. It was on this first trip to Egypt where he first met Omar Sharif and his wife, who were also attending the celebration. Stephen recalled their meeting during the filming of “The Fall of the Roman Empire.”

 “Omar Shairf and I met two years ago in Egypt on a publicity tour for 20th Century Fox. Omar and his wife Fatem Hamama are the biggest stars in Egyptian films today. With Omar working on ‘Fall of the Roman Empire’ now, its like old home week between us.

“Lo and behold,” says Stephen, “Omar and I are working out a deal to costar in a picture to be made late this year. Naturally his lovely wife would have an important role. It would be a join project between my company and his. So far we have the temporary title of ‘The Secret’ and it’s a mystery comedy with romance.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb 22, 1963)

IMG_0008-009

Now that would have been interesting! Anyhow, Stephen also seems to have enjoyed himself and the sound and light show as well, telling Hedda Hopper the details after he returned from his adventure abroad.

Steve tells me he had a wonderful time in Cairo. He said: “The new sound and light is turned on at night and the Pyramids are the most beautiful sight I’e ever seen. Barbara Eden and her husband, Michael Ansara, and Julie Newmar got a terrific reception there. Nasser attended the opening of their movie, but Spyros Skouras, our host, left before we arrived…” (Chicago Daily Tribune, May 11, 1961)

Fullscreen capture 662017 93103 PM.bmp

Stephen was finally freed up from his “Cleopatra” obligation in June of 1961, and was off to London to begin filming “The Inspector” with Dolores Hart. By late June, Richard Burton to stepped into the role of Mark Anthony to replace Boyd. Stephen Boyd could finally leave this role behind.

Even though he never got to star in “Cleopatra,” at least Stephen Boyd, the original Mark Anthony, has the small consolation of visiting Egypt, the Great Sphinx and the Pyramids before he moved on to other projects.  The only thing he was missing was Elizabeth Taylor as “Cleopatra” on her purple barge floating down the Nile!

MovieTVsecrets1960 (3).jpg
“Actress Elizabeth Taylor and her husband, Eddie Fisher, have filed $7.25 million libel actions against eight movie and TV magazines, charing them with character damage through ‘lurid’ headlines.”  (Town Talk, Dec 10 , 1960) The above headline involving Stephen Boyd was one of the magazine articles in question. 

 

Stephen Boyd takes Raquel Welch out on the town in NYC…but forgets his wallet! 1965

Handsome movie star Stephen Boyd, in town from Hollywood, forgot his wallet when he took beautiful brunette star Raquel Welch from the St. Regis Hotel to see the comedy, “Luv”. Miss Welch, starring with him in ‘Fantastic Voyage’, had no money either, not even enough to take care of the 75-cent fare. But cabbie Bruce Mullins cashed Miss Welch’s $10 check – in the theater rush hour, yet. You’d better never knock New York cabbies to them!” (Detroit Free Press, Feb 15, 1965)”

raqstevg

Stephen Boyd – 50th Anniversary of “The Caper of the Golden Bulls”, 1967

The Paramount Picture action/adventure movie which starred Stephen Boyd, Yvette Mimieux and Giovanna Ralli was released on May 24, 1967, which makes this month the 50th Anniversary! Talk about a movie which needs a little love. It is still waiting for its DVD release, let alone a Blu-Ray edition. Come on Paramount Pictures! So this is not the finest piece of cinema ever made – but it could be luscious a looking movie, and one can only imagine if the colors were enhanced how amazing it would be visually. As it is, the only current available version is a dull looking copy with bad sound. I dubbed a little bit of a better version from VHS tape recently, but this film needs help and restoration badly.

Joseph E. Levine produced the picture, and was so impressed with Stephen Boyd from “The Oscar” that he immediately signed him to this project, based on the action novel by William P. McGivern.  Stephen Boyd definitely commands the screen in this movie with just raw charisma.  Stephen is simply playing the stalwart, good-looking protagonist here (even though he is a professional bank robber!), but with his stunning handsome looks in a sexy 60’s wardrobe by Edith Head, and his perfectly taut and chiseled naked torso flashing during the climactic bank robbery, he doesn’t need to do much. Giovanna Ralli definitely steals the show with her vibrant smile, perky Natalie Wood-like charm and a thick, syrupy Italian accent.  Her chemistry with Boyd seems genuine. Yvette Mimieux is also entertaining as the clever ‘dumb’ blond who actually wins out in the end by outwitting everyone else. The characters don’t really get a chance to develop too much but – its a caper movie, as the title obviously indicates. You can’t expect “Dr. Zhivago” here, folks. Several other entertaining character actors, such as Vitto Scotti, William Slezak and Arnold Moss, enhance the cast to make this a perfect summer, escape action movie. The unique part of this movie is that it involved the robbery of the Banco Nacional during the ‘Running of the Bulls’, or the ‘Feria del Toro San Fermin’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Fermín). This is an annual event which takes place in one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite towns in Spain called Pamplona. Thousands of people attend the event in July every year.

The key day of the festival is 7 July, when thousands of people accompany the 15th-century statue of Saint Fermin through the old part of Pamplona. The statue is accompanied by dancers and street entertainers, and different political and religious authorities including the city mayor.[12] During procession a Jota (an ancient traditional dance) is performed for the saint, a rose is offered in the Saint Fernin well, and the “gigantes” (enormous wood-framed and papier-mâché puppet figures managed from inside) dance and twirl while the cathedral bell named María (Mary) peals.[13)  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Fermín)

The ‘gigantes’ plays a key role in the movie during the bank robbery, as does the “Running of the Bulls”. The cast was flown to Pamplona, Spain in July of 1966 to film the action sequences involving the ‘Running of the Bulls’, and then returned to Hollywood in August to complete the picture on the back-lots and sounds stages of Paramount Studios.

Reviews of the film were lukewarm at best.

“Now comes along one of the weakest entires ever, “The Caper of the Golden Bulls” (citywide), a waste of time for all but the least discriminating audiences and a waste of the talent of its stars, Stephen Boyd, Yvette Mimieux and Italian actress Giovanna Ralli.

It seems that Boyd and some of his service buddies,feeling guilty for having bombed a French cathedral by mistake during World War II, took to robbing German banks after the war to pay for its restoration. (A more far fetched gimmick to make cross good guys would be hard to imagine)…Indeed, the real crime is perpetuated on the actors: Miss Mimieux has but a bit part as Boyd’s girl friend, Miss Ralli has been allowed to play so broadly that one would never guess that she is one of the most accomplished young European actresses and not just another Italian starlet, and Boyd, who comes out of this mess best, has been surrounded by a bunch of unfamiliar and unappealing cohorts…The excitement of the running of the bulls…has been vitiated by the murky, washed-out look of the Pathe Color print.” Kevin Thomas, 14 June 1967, Los Angeles Times.

It sounds like even when the film came out it needed a little color enhancement! Regardless, I really enjoy this movie every time I watch it. It’s just a fun film, and the more you watch it, the more you enjoy the minor characters which, perhaps during the first viewing,  didn’t capture your attention. And it is also one Stephen Boyd’s most attractive roles. I am proud to say – Happy 50th Anniversary to “The Caper of the Golden Bulls”!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Caper Color (1)Caper Color (2)Caper Color (3)Caper Color (4)Caper Color (5)Caper Color (6)Caper Color (7)Caper Color (8)Caper Color (9)Caper Color (10)Caper Color (11)Caper Color (12)

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.

golfstevie

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 

ElenaFullscreen capture 6132015 53613 AM.bmp

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’

portraitclassic

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.”

slaveslightt

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!

Fullscreen capture 5252017 74825 PM.bmp

boydchair (2)