At the height of his career in the 1960’s, Stephen Boyd took part in three separate Television Show drama which aired on network T.V. The first was “To the Sound of Trumpets” in early 1960 with Dolores Hart. The second was this one, for General Electric TV, which aired on Sunday January 7, 1962. The third television program for Stephen was Bob Hope Theater presentation of “A War of Nerves” in 1964 with Louis Jourdan.
This show is particularly hard to find. Most likely the only copy is available at the Library of Congress – one visit I have yet to make! From the photos I have seen of this production, Stephen looks moody, husky and handsome with the lovely Gloria Talbott.
This sounds like a very interesting plot. First off, Stephen plays a father – something he rarely did on screen, especially this early in his career. Gloria Talbott stars opposite Boyd as his young wife. The drama comes in the form of their baby son, who is a mentally retarded child. Other co-stars included General Electric’s own Ronald Reagan (yes, that Ronald Reagan!) as well as Everett Sloane who portrays the family doctor.
“Boyd, as one-time gridiron great ‘Bud Austin’, tries to keep secret the fact that his child is less than perfect. His personal feelings are intensified when a gift for the baby turns out to be a miniature of Bud’s famous football jersey.” (Beckley Post Herald Raleigh (August 4, 1962) “The shock of the disclosure that his son is ‘less than perfect’ so disturbs Bud that he orders his wife ‘Janet’ (Gloria Talbott) to keep the child’s condition a secret until they can put the boy away. Near hysteria from Bud’s irrational demands, Janet tearfully reveals the truth to friends during a visit, then seeks advise from Dr. Gordon. He sends her with the child to the home of ‘Sam Miller’ (Ronald Reagan) where an angry Bud follows and learns from Miller, a fellow unfortunate parent of a retarded child, what he must do in facing the reality of life.” (The Montgomery Advertiser, Jan 5 1962)
Reviews of the program were overall positive, especially for taking on such a difficult subject matter.
“Stephen Boyd played a former athlete who fathered a retarded baby and rejected him in a fit of emotional instability. Ronald Reagan co-starred as another father in a similar situation who gave Boyd the emotional backbone to face the problem.” (Asbury Park Press, Jan 8, 1962)
“Stephen Boyd debuts on TV as a father who refuses to accept the fact that is six-month old son is mentally retarded- hopelessly so. It’s grim, but powerful drama…” (Asbury Park Press, Jan 7, 1962)
“The Wall Between Us” is not entertainment in the usual sense of the word. There is not a single laugh in it. Indeed, it is a four handkerchief film from start to finish, beautifully written and beautifully played. It also carries a wallop. (Pottstown Mercury, Jan 6, 1962)
This was filmed just before or around the same time Stephen was filming “Billy Rose’s Jumbo” with Doris Day on the MGM back lot. It was a great chance for audiences to see Stephen doing something more than race Roman chariots.