“He shoulda read his Horoscope” – Stephen Boyd 1967 Interview

Stephen Boyd expounds on marriage

By Roderick Mann

London Express Service

El Paso, Herald Post, Saturday Jan 26 1967

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LONDON — I have always felt that Stephen Boyd deserved to do well. For did he not essay his first star part opposite Brigitte Bardot- and if that isn’t learning to swim at the deep end, I don’t know what is.

I saw a lot of him at that time in Southern Spain. He was in despair and Bardot was in what is euphemistically referred to as the altogether. The altogether what? (“She is delighted with CinemaScope,” Boyd said at the time. “It means she can start off fully clothed at one side of the screen and be nude by the time she gets to the other.”)

I told him then that things could only get better. And get better they did. He went on to make the Roman epic ‘Ben Hur’ oh, all of IX  years ago now. He filmed with Sophia Loren, with Doris Day, with Gina Lollobrigida. What more could a boy from Ulster ask? He also, it should be noted, set something of a record in the brevity of if marriage stakes. For his wedded sojourn with Miss Mariella de Sarzana lasted exactly 19 days.

And from that time Mr. Boyd has backed to the full that old line about marriage being a wonderful institution, but not everybody wanting to live in an institution. Indeed, when it comes to prolonged contact with the female sex, Mr. Boyd has given an entirely new meaning to the expression Get-away People. As he is in London for a new film to be directed by Val Guest – Department K – I took the opportunity of calling round to wish him well. I also told him that I hoped his next marriage might last a little longer – otherwise with the delays in deliveries it was hardly worth while writing to congratulate him.

“My next marriage!” said Mr. Boyd, looking as if I’d struck him a blow beneath the emotional Plimsoll line. “Are you mad. I wouldn’t consider marriage again for two seconds. The one thing that marriage taught me was that I don’t want to live with another person. Ever. I tried it, and it didn’t work, and all my logic tells me it wouldn’t work a second time either. So I plan my life accordingly.” He rallied bravely. “And I have a great time.”

Perhaps 19 days wasn’t long enough to find out about marriage, I suggested.

“Long enough, “ echoed Mr. Boyd. “Nineteen minutes was long enough. As soon as we were married we loathed each other. It was as simple as that. Marriage is an attitude of mind, and I’ve obviously got the wrong attitude. I’m just not suited to live with other people.”

“My horoscope indicates marriage, but marriage not carried out. Unfortunately, I didn’t check up on my horoscope before I got married. I’ve become interested in astrology only recently, you see. I’m Cancer, with Leo rising, and if you want to get a clue to my character you must read up on Cancer and Leo and combine the two.”

Do you read your fortune each day in the pages? I inquired. Are you THAT interested?

“ I’m that interested I don’t read my fortune each day in the papers,” said Mr. Boyd blithely. “I take it quite seriously. We Cancers tend to attract strong people. We open ours arms to them, and then strangle and crush them. They can’t breathe. Look–”

He slowly lowered his steel hotel key into a tumbler of water, “ The water is Cancer, see. It embraces the key, but the key can’t breathe.”  Together we watched the key struggling for life. Mr. Boyd rescued it with a flourish.

Did nobody warn you that you weren’t cut out for marriage at the time?

“Well, a fortune teller friend sent me a wire to Fulham register office where we were married with one word. ‘No.” That should have given me a clue. And when I thanked my brother for coming along to act as best man and witness he said : ‘Any time.” I might have realized.”

So it was a bachelor life from now on?

“Right you are. Anyway, California is a good place to be a bachelor. You can pick up the telephone for everything you need. And there are plenty of women out there. One doesn’t have to make too much if an effort, either. They always do the talking. You just stare back at them and they take it as a reply.”

In the past Mr. Boyd had been positively glowing in his praise for life in California. He obviously didn’t agree with Fred Allen that to be really happy out there you had to be an orange.

“It was partly a question of self-hypnosis on my part,” said Mr. Boyd. “You see I was under contract out there and I know I was stuck with it so I had to convince myself  I liked it. But the truth is I’ve always preferred London. Here there’s so much to stimulate one; out there there’s nothing.”

Now that the contract was finished, would he be here more often?

“I certainly hope so. After nine years of being told what to do by a studio, I’m relishing my freedom. I don’t regret taking the contract. At the time I did sign it everything that was happening in films was happening in Hollywood. Now it’s all changed. This is where things are being done.”

“Another thing. If you’re under contract, you never get the best films your company is making. If they do finally hand it to you, it’s because 10 or more outside stars turned it down. At six-thirty in the morning, which is the time special delivery arrives in Los Angeles, a package would come with a script and a memo from Casting which read: ‘You have been assigned such-and-such a role.’ That would be Saturday sometimes, and you’d have to start Monday. Not very encouraging, would you say?”

But the one film he’d done since coming off contract – ‘The Oscar’- had been ruthlessly panned?

“That was because nobody could believe Hollywood was really like that. And it is. Every major critic said that it was overdone –that scene at the end where, having tried to rig the awards, I stand up when my name is called as a nomination, thinking, I’ve won. But that has happened every year since I’ve been in Hollywood. The producer and director of one film actually began to walk down the aisle when their names were called among the nominations. Actually, they had won, so it was all right. But overdone: not a bit of it.”

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