Stephen Boyd gets a surprise…from his ex-wife!

I came across a funny story recently when perusing an article about Boyd in the NY Daily News. The interviewer is Wanda Hale, and she briefly asks Boyd about his first marriage to Mariella di Sarzana.

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While making “Ben-Hur” in Rome, Steve met a beautiful girl, Mariella di Sarzana. Four months later they were married. “That relationship, “Steve said, “Lasted less than three weeks.” In Madrid, several years later Steve made “The Fall of the Roman Empire” for Samuel Bronston. Arriving early, Steve was sent a guide by the Bronston office to show him around the city. Steve said, “And who was the guide? My ex-wife. That relationship lasted five minutes.” (NY Daily News, Feb 28, 1966)

And to prove it, we have pictures in the Spanish snow of Boyd and Sarzana in 1963 after their brief reunion. Despite the fact that their relationship was very short, you can still see a little bit of the playfulness and chemistry they had from their romance in 1958.

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Below is a brand new picture I found recently of Stephen and Mariella from 1958

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1962 Stephen Boyd Interview regarding the runaway production of “Cleopatra”

I sometimes wonder how Stephen’s career – and the 1960’s – would have turned out had he waited just a few months longer to start filming “Cleopatra.” He would have been a part of one of the biggest cultural movies of the 1960’s. The problem was, however, he would have spent literally two years filming (or waiting to film) this project! Stephen arrived on set in London in the later summer of 1960 to start filming “Cleopatra” (he was going to be Marc Anthony, of course). By late spring of 1961 he was still waiting. Stephen opted out “Cleopatra” in June of 1961 to start work on “Lisa” with Dolores Hart. When Richard Burton replaced Boyd in July and production on “Cleopatra” finally crawled to a start in late 1961 in Rome. “Cleopatra” was still filming in the summer of 1962 when Boyd was on hand in Rome filming “Imperial Venus” with Gina Lollobrigida! Below is a fascinating glimpse at this production from Stephen’s point of view while he was filming “Jumbo” in Hollywood.

Harold Hefferman, Philadelphia Daily News, March 8, 1962

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HOLLWOOD. – Behind movie headlines:

“Runaway production” is a terrifying term striking hard at every layer of the Hollywood foundation. As to its personal impact, no actor in town has greater reason for despising it than Stephen Boyd.

Boyd came back from two years movie making in Europe with little more than wasted time and the unhappy feeling both his career and personal life had been adversely affected by his absence.

The blond actor, who spent an earlier two year period villainizing Charlton Heston in “Ben-Hur,” went back to Europe in 1960 to make “The Big Gamble” with Juliette Greco. While there 20th-Fox notified him he was to play “Anthony” to Elizabeth Taylor’s “Cleopatra,” so he remained on- and on.

“The whole two years – minus a few weeks I spent back here in Hollywood – added up to nothing short of a fiasco,” growled Steve, on the set of “Billy Rose’s Jumbo” at MGM. “While waiting for ‘Cleo’ to get started, I went to Cairo for the big lighting of the Sphinx. That was when they were planning to shoot the picture in Egypt – but, of course, that fell through.

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“I’d say that about the personal high points of those 24 months was my trip to Cairo and Lebanon. The countries are beautiful, and it’s too bad so many things came up to prevent shooting ‘Cleopatra’ there.”

A few weeks after Steve reported for the big Queen of the Nile spectacle, Miss Taylor was stricken with her first and near fatal illness, followed by innumerable script and change-of-producer- director delays. Meanwhile, he was assigned by the studio to do “The Inspector” opposite Dolores Hart in Holland. This is a film he has yet to see.

“I can only say I hope it came out better than ‘The Big Gamble,’” Steve chided candidly, “because that one, I’m sure, won’t do a thing for my career. But that did save me from doing ‘Cleopatra,’ for which I am undyingly grateful.”

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Dolores Hart and Stephen Boyd in “Lisa”

Steve doesn’t put much stock in the “Roman holiday” rumors of a romance between Liz Taylor and Richard (Antony) Burton. He attributes the notoriety to “a dream creation” by the over-imaginative Italian press.

“Why, the fan magazines and even a couple of Italian newspaper columns had me linked romantically with Elizabeth- a month before I’d even met her!” he laughed. “One headline read: ‘Will Steve divide Liz and Eddie?’ And I’d never even seen the lady, except in a couple of her movies. She and Eddie and I joked about it when we finally did meet on the set – but sometimes rumor and gossip can get way beyond the amusing stage.”

Steve blasts “runaway” for two other personal reasons. It cut into his burning romance with Hope Lange – she didn’t wait, and took up with others – and financially he took a shellacking.

I didn’t get anything resembling tax breaks,” he explained, “and, in fact, I paid both British and U.S. taxes all the time I was away. (Steve is a British citizen, of Irish descent.) I’m not dead set against pictures being made in foreign countries—sometimes they really turn out better – but in far too many cases, such as ‘Cleopatra,’ if they don’t film them on the McCoy locations, they’d do better to stay right in Hollywood and let everyone relax, including the actor.”

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Hope Lange and Stephen Boyd, 1961

Stephen Boyd and Yvette Mimieux

There seemed to be a very affectionate and protective older brother/little sister relationship between Stephen Boyd and actress Yvette Mimieux on the set of “Caper of the Golden Bulls”. Stephen would know all about having sisters at least – he had four of them! Yvette was only 24 years old when she was making this picture and Boyd was 35. The below pictures are some of my favorite of Stephen and Yvette together. Stephen looks dashingly handsome in his mid-1960’s short hair and white suitcoats, and Yvette equally alluring.

And for her part, Yvette would gush about her co-star during The Bible…In The Beginning premiere in October of 1966.

At our table was lovely Yvette Mimieux, accompanied by her manager Jim Byron, but dividing her chatting time between Ustinov [they’re good friends and may be working together in the Disney picture] and Stephen Boyd , who plays Nimrod in “The Bible.”

Yvette worked with Boyd in the Paramount picture “Caper of the Golden Bulls” [not yet released], and told me she considers him one of the most considerable and solicitous men she shows — with his costars.  (Chicago Tribune, Oct 10, 1966, Norma Lee Browning)

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Stephen Boyd Meets Royalty for “The Man Who Never Was” Premiere, 1956

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Below, Stephen Boyd meets Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (the husband and consort of Queen Elizabeth II) in 1956 during a premiere of “The Man Who Never Was.”

 

Below is a very rare Royal Gala Premiere booklet for “The Man Who Never Was.” The pamphlet is from the Wednesday, March 14, 1956 premiere of the film and was attended by the Duchess of Kent.