Stephen Boyd and Mariella di Sarzana married each other on August 30th of 1958 in London during the filming of Ben-Hur. Mariella was an Italian studio agent assigned to ‘take care’ of Stephen during his time in Rome, which she clearly did!
Ever the Irish-romantic, Stephen said, “I met Maria on my first day in Rome at a studio party, I don’t know if it was the Italian moon, or the wine, or both. But I knew I wanted to marry her.”
Above, Getty Photos of Stephen Boyd and Mariella di Sarzana in London in August of 1958, getting married.
Boyd explained to Hedda Hopper in a 1959 interview, “I met her in April. We married in August…I honestly thought that was it. She’s a lovely person, attractive, not very sexy to look at but a wonderful girl. She’s clever too.”
The pair had actually flown to London to tie the knot and returned shortly thereafter to Rome. The photos below of the reception can be seen on a great website for rare Italian movie photos and information- http://www.archivioluce.com.
The reception took place on September 6, 1958 at the Hotel Excelsior in Rome, which hosted the cast of Ben-Hur during the filming of the movie (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Westin_Excelsior_Rome)
“Yet Stephen Boyd, who enjoyed to the hilt playing this villain, was so popular with members of the film’s Italian-British-American crew in Rome that, when his assignment was completed, they presented him with a gold clock emblematic of their affection. ” (http://www.blu-ray.com/news/?id=7408).
Other members of the Ben-Hur cast, including Charlton Heston, Cathy O’Donnell and director William Wyler can be seen enjoying the festivities.
Sadly, Stephen’s hasty marriage began to fall apart a few weeks after it started.
“Filming kept us apart for long period and when we were together we were never alone. Every night when I came home a whole army of her relatives were camping in our apartment. I soon realized my love for Maria was an infatuation. I knew the marriage wouldn’t work–so it was ridiculous to keep up any pretenses.
“Everyone knew about it and I sensed they were going out of their way to make things easier for me. I resented this. I became sullen and difficult to work with. One day Haya (Hayareet) came up and said: ‘Look, you Irish lug- when are you going to snap out of it and rejoining the human race?’ That did it. We became constant friends, but only friends. We went everywhere together.”
Less than a month after their marriage, Boyd and Mariella separated. Their divorce became official on March 20, 1959, after Mariella briefly visited Stephen in Hollywood.
Before the marriage fell apart, however, Boyd and Di Sarzana can be seen dancing the night away at their Rome wedding reception in 1958 – looking overjoyed and madly in love.