Stephen Boyd saves Gina Lollobrigida’s life and other such adventures while filming “Imperial Venus”, 1962

All sorts of craziness went on in Rome while Stephen was filming “Imperial Venus” with Gina Lollobrigida, although it was still not as crazy as the “Cleopatra” set which was filming around the same time there. Stephen even saved Gina’s life along with other cast members when a helicopter filming scenes dipped too low! 

But for Stephen Boyd’s fast thinking, Gina Lollobrigida and five other  members of the “Imperial Venus” cast might have had their heads chopped off by the blades of a helicopter at the village of Marzaiana, 60 miles from Rome. Hovering only 45 feet above the players, the director was shooting a chase scene. A sudden downdraft caused the helicopter to drop sharply and tilt to a 40- degree angle.

Stephen yelled “Hit the dirt,” shoved Gina head over heals. I hear that the blade of the tilted helicopter came within inches. (Vidette Messenger of Porter County, August 6, 1962)

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Above, Steve and Gina attend a Frank Sinatra benefit concert in Rome, June 1, 1962 (

Steve’s next is “Imperial Venus”, to be filmed in Rome with Gina Lollobrigida. He reminded me that I’d introduced them one night at Producer Jerry Wald’s house: “If you recall, I talked with her that night for about five hours and found her fascinating.”

“Let’s not have ANOTHER scandal in Rome,” I said.

Steve grinned, “When in Rome, do as the Welsh do.”  (Hedda Hopper Interview, “Liz Taylor’s First Marc Anthony, ” June 17, 1962). 

Stephen Boyd – who was to have played the R Burton role in Cleopatra- will have the villa next to Liz’s when he films “Imperial Venus”.  (The Daily Press, April 17, 1962)  

Gina plays the role of Napoleon’s colorful sister, Pauline Bonaparte Borghese. Boyd is an officer in the French army who fall sin love with her, and he grinned: “She’s my Waterloo.”  (Fort Lauderdale News, Erskine Johnson report, August 1, 1962)

Gina Lollobrigida, an avid photographer, on the “Imperial Venus” set

Boyd chuckled, “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 our 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.” (

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“In a letter from Stephen Boyd in Rome “I had top carry Gina Lollobrigida up 75 steps at the Borghese Palace six times for a scene in our movie, ‘Imperial Venus.’ Now don’t you think that’s carrying an actress in a film too far?” (The Philadephia Inquirer, Aug 1, 1962)

A fella had to draw the line somewhere. Stephen Boyd threatened to walk off “Imperial Venus” in Rome if they stick to the new scenes written calling for him to make love to Gina Lollobrigida while he is stripped down in a bath!

“That nude bathing stuff is all right for the girls,” storms Steve, “let Marilyn and Brigitte and Kim and all the others splash around to their heart’s and press agent’s content. But me? Never. They can think again. Or they’re going to be missing a boy.” (The Springfield News-Leader, August 2, 1962)  *On a side note, Stephen did complete this scene!*

gina bath

They hung the “Closed” sign on Gina Lollobrigida’s set in Rome while she and Stephen Boyd did their love scenes in the room Paolina, sister of Napoleon, had constructed expressly for love – a pool surrounded by mirrors. This is the secret highspot of “Imperial Venus” which producers hope will shade “Cleopatra’s” panting passions. (Albuquerque Journal, July 28, 1962)


Every time good looking Stephen Boyd gets an  assignment to make a movie in Rome, some sort of jinx starts operating. He’s been in Italy a month languishing around waiting for Gina Lollobrigida’s “Imperial Venus” to get off the dime. It’s the usual hex- script trouble. (The Indianapolis Star, June 30, 1962)

“To avoid the traffic snarls (in Rome) when I was doing ‘Imperial Venus’ with Gina Lollobrigida,” says Steve, “I had to leave for work at 7:30 in the morning, and not come back until 11 at night.”  (Express and News San Antonio, September 2, 1962)





Hello, Handsome! 

This may well be my all time favorite Stephen Boyd picture! It captures his personality perfectly; the charm, the humor, the Irish glint in the eye, along with the sexy curl of hair at the top of his forehead. Hello Handsome indeed!!!

See full article “Killer Boyd” from Silver Screen Magazine, April 1963 here:

“Twinkling, grey-blue eyes, rugged features, bushy eyebrows, wavy brown hair and a smile that ranges from impish to sexy…and not since Cary Grant has there been a cleft chin like Stephen Boyd’s – “  Movie Life Yearbook, 1960

“I’m a completely practical actor” – Stephen Boyd interview from 1973

This is a fascinating article that really makes you realize what a working, adaptable actor Stephen Boyd was – and a survivor!

“I’m not Laurence Olivier. I’m a completely practical actor. I have a commodity value and sometimes I get close to the limit of my value, sometimes not. But I don’t overprice myself. Even if I won an Oscar, I wouldn’t change my price.”

Stephen Boyd Likes U.S. Best

By Bob Thomas, Associated Press Writer

Mar 1, 1973

Hollywood (AP) – “No matter what it says on my passport, I consider this my home. I’d like to stay here all the time, but how can I, when all the film-making is elsewhere?”

Irish born Stephen Boyd admits that is he “one of those rare birds among actors.” Whenever he has time between films abroad, he returns to his house in nearby Tarzana.

The last seven years of Boyd’s career comprise a case study in a film star’s survival, one which other actors might profit from studying. Particularly those who are sitting beside their swimming pools, waiting for their agents to call.

Stephen Boyd, now 44, became a star with his powerful performance as Messala in “Ben-Hur.” He finished a nine-year contract with 20th Century Fox with “Fantastic Voyage,” then played the lead in “The Oscar.” That proved to be his last Hollywood film.

“It was in 1966 and the studios were shutting down,” he recalled. “I decided I didn’t want to wait for my agent to telephone. I saw what independent producers were doing, especially abroad, and I made up my mind to join them.”

Boyd formed a partnership with English producer Euan Lloyd, and they worked for 18 months on projects that never reached fruition. Then he decided to avail himself of the lush field of film making in Europe.

“During the past two and a half years,” he said, “I have made nine films – for Italian, English, French, Australian, American companies and two co-productions of Italy and Spain.

Stephen Boyd (R) during the filming of ‘Kill’, directed by Roman Gary, 1971, Madrid, Spain. (Photo Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Getty Images)

“Some, Like ‘Kill, Kill, Kill,’ will be released in this country, some may not. The Italian-Spanish films were aimed strictly at the Latin market – they’re more emotional, overdone, theatrical.

“The Italian producers don’t even concern themselves with the American market any more: they’ve been cheated too many times by American producers. They can do all right on their own. One of my Italian-Spanish films, ‘Marta,’ made $780,000 in its first seven weeks.”

Stephen Boyd mingles at a “Marta” event in Madrid, 1971

Some American stars have despaired of entering the jungle of European independent production, but Boyd said he had encountered no real problems. He goes over each contract with care and retains the English speaking rights for his own company.

“Language is no problem,” he said, ”I make all of the films in English, and the foreign languages can be dubbed in later. I understand Italian and French, and I’ve found that you can get along with any language if you know your own language well.

“There’s no problem with budgets, either. Most of them run around $750,000, which represents more than a million- dollar film made in Hollywood. The reason is that union and overhead charges are such that a million-dollar picture in Hollywood only provides $630,000 of entertainment on the screen.”

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Maria Mahor, Stephen Boyd and Analia Gade at “A Million For a Blonde” premiere event in Madrid (1971?)

Boyd declined to discuss his earnings from European films, but he obviously earns more than when he was a contract actor. He is realistic about his position:

“I’m not Laurence Olivier. I’m a completely practical actor. I have a commodity value and sometimes I get close to the limit of my value, sometimes not. But I don’t overprice myself. Even if I won an Oscar, I wouldn’t change my price.”

Boyd recently finished a two-hour movie for television, “Key West,” and Warner Brothers hopes that it will become a series.

“So do I,” said the actor, “I’d like anything that will keep me in the United States of America.”

Stephen Boyd at Madrid Airport, 1973 –
Stephen Boyd arrives in Madrid in 1973 –