By Kasper Manahan, Pittsburgh Press, March 9, 1960
Suddenly everybody becomes avidly interested in Stephen Boyd, wondering where he had been all their young lives. That’s especially true of the womenfolk of Allegheny County and purlieus, judging from the many mash notes I’m receiving.
But they’re all for Stevey boy, with me in the rather undignified position of the go-between, for all the world like Juliet’s nurse. The ladies all want to know abut Stevey, even if he does lose the chariot race in every performance of “Ben-Hur” at the Warner Theater.
Somehow, Boyd has failed to make any considerable impression in about seven or eight movies and various stage plays, TV shows and radio assignments in England and this country. His last job prior to “Ben-Hur” was “Best of Everything,” but he was all but lost in the shuffle of so many comely girls and handsome Louis Jourdan, the star.
And Charlton Heston, as the nominal star of “Ben-Hur,” doing mighty well too. But while Heston gets tops billing, it’s Boyd who gets the low cooing from the girls.
And he’s way ahead in the all important “word-of-mouth” as well he might be, for he’s strong, rugged and handsome in a bristling , masculine way. Of course that death scene – the goriest death scene in movie history, what with Boyd as Messala gasping out his last tortured breath from his mangled body, torn and broken from pounding hoofs and churning chariot wheels in the dust of the hippodrome.
Any actor will tell you that an accelerator to a stymied career nothing can match a strongly dramatic death scene. Obviously, up to now, Boyd hadn’t been getting the right roles as a show case for his vital qualities. For after a flock of pictures which did little for him he suddenly explodes as a personality plus.
Needs New Film Right Now
Somehow his current studio, 20th Century Fox, doesn’t seem to be excited about him, though. Oh, some vague plans as I hear it – a picture to be called “The Lost World” to go int production when the actors’ strike is over.
Too bad– this boy Boyd is hot stuff now. The girls of all ages are eagerly awaiting his next film when he will, without question, be given star billing, this lad who was born in Belfast, Ireland on July 4, 1928, the youngest of nine children of a laborer, James A. Miller, and his wife, Martha. Stephen took her maiden name, Boyd.
He began his stage career in Ulster, appeared in England and America in stock and repertory. Then the films took him over, but he was just another player until “Ben-Hur” catapulted him into the limelight.
Sorry though, girls – he’s married. “Ben-Hur” not only did wonders for his career, it also won him a Roman beauty for his wife. While in Rome making the picture he met and wooed Mariella di Sarzana.