Did Brigitte Bardot ask Stephen Boyd to marry her?

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I thought that might grab your attention! This didn’t come as complete surprise to me when I came across this Stephen quote which is in a book called “Holy Matrimony! Better Halves and Bitter Halves: Actors, Athletes, Comedians, Directors, Divas, Philosophers, Poets, Politicians and other Celebs Talk About Marriage” by Boze Hadleigh.

Here’s the quote:

“Brigitte Bardot asked me to marry her. I don’t know if she was joking, but I said no. I did not explain that I couldn’t marry an actress who could never be faithful to me. Or at least try. Like I would at least try. for the first year or two. ” – STEPHEN BOYD (Ben-Hur)

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This sounds like something Stephen would say, and from other information I have read and researched about Bardot and Boyd during 1968, their closeness was the real deal. But so was Boyd’s distrust of the marital institution and Bardot’s abysmal lack of fidelity. Still, I like to imagine that Stephen could have possibly been a Mr. Bardot!

To read more about Stephen and Brigitte, see https://stephenboydblog.com/stephen-boyd-and-brigitte-bardot/

 

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Above, photos of Boyd and Bardot at the “Shalako” Munich premiere, October 1968

 

 

During the filming of “Shalako”, Brigitte Bardot and Stephen Boyd enjoy taking pictures–of each other!

In early 1968, Stephen Boyd and Brigitte Bardot were quite enamored with each other during the making of “Shalako”. The pair had become good friends back in 1957 while filming “The Night Heaven Fell”, and had meet at least twice since, once in 1960 in Paris and also in London during 1961. In 1969, a journalist teased Stephen that he never met up with BB between husbands! 

Steve Boyd is one of the nicest leading men in the industry. I’ve never known him to be anything but gentlemanly (darn it!) Recently, I asked him if his romance with Brigutte Bardot was real. “She is a lovely woman, but she is married. I’ve known her for many years, and she has always been married, not to the same man, however.” Steve, how come you play it safe and never meet up with her between marriages, hmmmm? (Detroit Free Press, July 27, 1969)

Nevertheless, now that the two actors were older, somehow the chemistry mix between them was just right. The vulnerable and emotional Bardot, on the brink of another divorce, this time with German millionaire Günther Sachs, was in need of a protective, friendly, warm, gentle shoulder to lean on and Stephen, of course, stepped into that role perfectly. Around the set of Shalako they became virtually inseparable. The photos below show a glimpse of their special personal chemistry and what Shalako producer Euan Lloyd called a “great friendship”.

For more about Brigitte and Stephen, see https://stephenboydblog.com/stephen-boyd-and-brigitte-bardot/

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“Bardot by Boyd….”Boyd by Bardot”

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“I’m No Casanova,” Says Stephen Boyd – to Reassure Mother (1960 Interview)

“I’m No Casanova,” Says Stephen Boyd – to Reassure Mother

Sure, he was introduced to Brigitte Bardot (by her husband) when she was scantily clad, and lost 25 pounds making a film with her. But then, he always loses weight when making a film, even when he’s costarred with a chariot, Irishman says.

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By James Bacon, Associated Press Writer

Courier Journal Nov 13, 1960

LONDON, Nov 12 – Stephen Boyd, the virile Irishman, would like to shake the reputation that is the envy of many another star.

“I really am no Casanova,” says Boyd. “And besides, my mother in Belfast reads all these stories about my so-called love escapades – and it bothers her.

I reminded Boyd that stories linking him with Brigitte Bardot and Hope Lange undoubtedly provided many of the typewriter excesses.

“It’s basically true that I was introduced to Brigitte while he was in a state of dishabille, and that I later lost 25 pounds while making a picture with her.

“But the stories omit that her then husband introduced us, and she quickly threw a towel around herself, and that I lost 25 pounds while making ‘The Big Gamble’ and 20 pounds while making ‘Ben-Hur.’ I always lose weight while working, whether my costar is Miss Bardot or a chariot.”

Boyd said he took Hope Lange to many parties while they were working together on a picture and while she was apparently still happily married to actor Don Murray.

“Hope was separated from Murray, but few people knew it,” says Boyd. “I do not go out with happily  married women – or even unhappily married women whose marriage is still intact. I’m no cad.”

The Lange-Murray separation had long been official.

Boyd now is costarred with Liz Taylor, playing Marc Anthony to her Cleopatra. She has been sick with a mysterious ailment that has delayed production.

 “I always yearned to make Hollywood,” says Boyd, “but as soon as I did, I got sent to Rome for a year for ‘Ben-Hur,’ to France, England, and Africa for six months on ‘The Big Gamble,’ and now another six or eight months in London for ‘Cleopatra.’

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Hope Lange and Stephen Boyd, here shown in a scene from “The Best of Everything,” were linked romantically by some of the Hollywood gossip columnists.

Filming the English version of “The Night Heaven Fell”, 1957

This is a fascinating article about the filming of “The Night Heaven Fell” in August of 1957. Despite what this article implies, this movie was released in the U.S.A. in 1958, but it was considered X rated (for adults only).  I would love to get my hands on the English Language version of this film, not only to hear Stephen Boyd’s actual voice but to also see any differences from the French version. If anyone has a clue where a copy might be, let me know!!

Hollywood in Madrid

“Columbia Movie Not for U.S.”

By Joe Hyams

Orlando Sentinal, August 30, 1957

MADRID – The other day we visited the set of The Moonlight Jewelers, a film being made in French and English for release by Columbia pictures.

The film stars Brigitte Bardot, Alida Valli and Stephen Boyd and, while it is being filmed in English, it is unlikely that American audiences will see it, because there are too many censorable elements.

In a two-minute scene we watched being filmed, Miss Bardot appears nude from the back. When she drapes a mantilla over her, she displays her thigh. Boyd kisses her on the bare shoulder while they are sitting on a bed. All this is frowned upon by Hollywood censors which we called to the attention of Raoul Levy, the producer.

“So?” asked Levy. So why make the film in English at all if it won’t be seen in America? we asked.

“The fact is the English version is for the Far East, Australia and South America –but not for North America,” said Levy.  “Also, we are making an English version because Peter Viertel, who worked on the screen play in French, said it would be east to adapt to English. And Alida Valli speaks better English than French, and Stephen Boyd, who’s Irish, doesn’t speak French at all and had to learn it as he went along.”

Vadim, the director and about-to-be ex-husband of Miss Bardot, told us that directing a film in two languages was a novel experience for him. “I found that every scene about charm and love is played better in French,” he said, “In scenes where you need strength and humor, English is better.”

Despite its censorable aspects The Moonlight Jewelers is being financed by Columbia, an American film company, and therefore is technically an American film. The original budget was $750,000, but with the recent devaluation of the French franc it is now budgeted at $600,000.

The film is typical of many being made in Europe today by American film companies because it has a truly international cast and crew. The producer, Mr. Levy, is Belgian, Miss Bardot is French, Miss Valli is Italian, Mr. Boyd is Irish, and Vadim, the director, is Russian. An American wrote the screen play based on a French novel, and the film crew is a polyglot of many nationalities including American, French and Spanish.

For the English version, the director shouts “Action!” For the French he shouts “Moteur!” To stop the action in English, he says “Cut” and in French he says “Coupe.” Instructions to the actors are given in their own language. The crew is given instructions in either French or Spanish, and it is safe to say that half the time the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

Photos below by Peter Basch

Stephen Boyd in Westerns : “Shalako”, 1968

Since “Shalako” is finally getting a Blu-Ray release this month, I thought it would be a good time to have an in-depth blog about the making of the film. This was to be Stephen Boyd’s second western, the first having been “The Bravados” filmed a decade prior.

It all starts with producer Euan Lloyd (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euan_Lloyd). Euan Lloyd had befriended Alan Ladd in the 1950’s, which kick started his producing career. (Pittsburgh Gazette, Dec 20, 1966)  Euan had been an associate producer on “Genghis Khan” in 1966, and the producer of “The Poppy is Also a Flower” in the same year. He had developed a good relationship with Stephen Boyd as a fellow collaborator after meeting Boyd during these two projects.  The pair would go on to work on three Louis L’ Amour screen adaptations; “Shalako” (1968), “Catlow” (1971), which Stephen co-produced, but pulled out of acting in the film once pal Brigitte Bardot passed on the project, and “The Man Called Noon”  (1973), which had its own Blu-Ray release recently.  Lloyd wanted to cast Boyd in his major film “The Wild Geese” in 1977, but obviously this opportunity was cut short by Stephen’s untimely death in June of that same year.

Concerning “Shalako”, which was Euan Lloyd’s pet project, as early as 1966, he had tried to get Henry Fonda in the starring role, but found distributors reluctant to back the film. The original cast was to be Fonda, Max Schell, Senta Berger and Karl Malden. (Pittsburgh Post- Gazette, Dec 20, 1966)

Lloyd kept pursuing this project by flying to Hollywood and linking up with veteran director Edward Dmytrik, who had previously directed such projects as “The Carpetbaggers” (1964)  and “Raintree County” (1957)  Dmytrik approached Sean Connery, who showed much interest in the project. Sean Connery was penciled in for the lead part. Once Connery was signed, the project picked up steam as there was much interest in Connery’s “non-Bond” movie roles. Lloyd then personally flew to St. Tropez to enlist French icon Brigitte Bardot as the female love interest. Since Brigitte would only work with people she liked, Lloyd had to get her OK on the director and lead actor. She approved of both Dmytrik and Connery after meeting them both. “Now Lloyd had financing from the British banks. He also signed Stephen Boyd, a most professional actor who couldn’t care less whether he liked anybody so long as the picture was good. It developed that Boyd did indeed like Brigitte.”  (St Cloud Times, July 19, 1968)  Claire Bloom was cast as Lady Daggett, another female character who chooses to run off with the villain. The film was set to be filmed in Mexico at the end of 1967. “Ben-Hur” and “Lawrence of Arabia” veteran Jack Hawkins was also brought aboard, along with German actor Peter Van Eyck. The Native American role of Chato, the Apache chief, was given to Woody Strode, an Afro-American actor who would later work with Stephen Boyd in “Key West” in 1973.

Some late changes took place after filming in Mexico apparently became too costly. The film location was moved to Almeria, Spain (very close to where Bardot and Boyd had filmed “The Night Heaven Fell” in 1957). Claire Bloom dropped out, and was replaced last minute by a Bond-girl, Honor Blackman, who had worked with Connery during “Goldfinger”  (1964).

The filming began on January 2, 1968, in Almeria, Spain. Sean Connery was persuaded by Edward Dmytrik to lose his ‘droopy mustache’ to avoid the same financial disaster which befell a mustached Gregory Peck western called “The Gunfighter” in 1950. Meanwhile, Boyd grew a fine set of whiskers for the part of the heavy. Stephen was excited to play the villain again.  “Give me a part with guts to it, and I’ll be happy no matter how unlikeable the character is.” (The Van Nuys News, June 6, 1968)

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The filming would have been uneventful had a little spark not burst into flames when Boyd and Brigitte meet up again.

Of course, Boyd was friends with Brigitte from 10 years earlier, when they had first worked together on “The Night Heaven Fell.” They also had met a few other times in Paris and London during the 1960’s. In 1968, Brigitte was married to German mogul Gunther Sachs. In Bardot’ s autobiography “Initials B.B.”, she described arriving on set in Spain to film the movie. She was disappointed to find that actor Sean Connery was practically bald. She expressed her thrill at meeting Boyd again. “Finally a face, an almost familiar presence among all these strangers!”

A month later, in February, rumors started to fly concerning Boyd and Bardot.

Bardot had been struggling with the filming of ‘Shalako’.  She was displaying all the bad diva attributes she was known for, including arriving late on set, and the director, Edward Dmytryk, was very demanding of her. She was feeling nervous and unsure of herself as the filming went on. In one particular scene, Boyd sensed Bardot’s distress and gathered her up in an embrace and murmured something soothing in her ear. Bardot clutched Boyd around the neck and (of course!) a photographer was on hand to capture the embrace.  The photo hit the newswires worldwide the next day. Suddenly, rumors of a love affair were rampant. It turned into a tabloid/media sensation as it was assumed Bardot was cheating on her current husband Gunther Sachs. Sachs himself even stormed to the set of “Shalako” to quell the rumors and confront his wife. Boyd and Bardot could not keep their hands off each other, it seems. There was a lot of kissing and cuddling on set.

The newspapers at the time were rampant with quotes about the pair.

“Brigitte Bardot apparently is breaking up with her German husband, Guenther Sachs, and actor Stephen Boyd is her new passion, a source close to the situation reported today….For the last week, she and Boyd are reported to have dined together nightly and to have been openly affectionate.”

“It’s been 10 full years since Stephen Boyd and Brigitte Bardot made “The Night Heaven Fell” in Paris. But from the way they’re carrying on making “Shalako” in Spain, heaven is falling all over again.”

“Brigitte Bardot and Stephen Boyd are still causing talk around the set of “Shalako” in Spain.”

“The two have been together for most of their free time. It seems to be all hearts and flowers down here.”

“Since the hot news broke about Brigitte and Steve Boyd, they seem to be cooling it….and though Boyd is a constant escort, there have been no more public displays of affection.”

“Eventual marriage for the twosome looks doubtful. Not that Steve isn’t enjoying every moment of the affair – just as he did 10 years ago when they shot a film together. Brigitte is so hung up over Steve that she’s even offered producer Euan  Lloyd to go on a many country personal appearance tour to plug the movie – something she’s never done before- if Stephen will go with her.”

https://stephenboydblog.wordpress.com/stephen-boyd-and-brigitte-bardot/

Sparks fly between Boyd and Bardot on the set of Shalako

Suddenly, everyone was interested in going on location to southern Spain to see what was going on! Newspapers sent reporters to check up on the rumors. Both Boyd and Bardot would deny any such entanglements and stuck to the story-line that they were just ‘good friends.’ Bardot would say, at the time, “As for Stephen, he and I are just old friends. The whole company usually dines together at night. I may have kissed Stephen, but I kiss everybody I like.” (New Castle News, Feb 28, 1968). Boyd would say, “For the last three or four days these reports have been circulating round the film set. But they are just not true. I know why they started. Recently I have taken Miss Bardot out to dine on a couple of occasions in Almeria. But we were not alone – always with a bunch of friends.”

The open affection of these two may have cooled a bit after the rumors hit the fan, but they remained close throughout the film, and even after, as Bardot insisted Boyd accompany here to both the Munich and London premiere of “Shalako”. Boyd was happy to oblige.

Later that year, even producer Euan Lloyd was asked to comment about their relationship. “I’d call it a great friendship. Obviously there’s a real rapport between them. Brigitte wanted Steve to accompany her to Munich, Germany, world premiere of “Shalako” – and he did. Nearly got his clothes tore off for his trouble trying to protect Brigitte from the crowd outside the theater.” (The Indianapolis Star, Oct 11, 1968) (see also https://stephenboydblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/brigitte-and-stephen-cause-a-commotion-in-munich-1968/)

“If Brigitte Bardot’s popularity in Europe is slipping, her fans have a funny way of showing it. The Munich premiere of “Shalako” resulted in near disaster for the star and Stephen Boyd. Excited fans overturned the couple’s car, ripped Stephen’s $500 tuxedo to shreds and almost kidnapped Brigitte before police could wrest her from the shouting throng…Too bad some of that enthusiasm didn’t rub off on the critics who saw “Shalako”. (Valley News, Nov 3, 1968)

 

Boyd and Bardot nearly cause a riot at the Shalako premiere in Munich

The film was met with mixed reviews, but luckily for Stephen, his performance was probably the most highly praised of all the actors. He certainly is the most entertaining! Boyd looks super sexy and ruggedly handsome in his rakish whiskers and western jeans. He just lights up the screen with his portrayal of bad boy Bosky Fulton . I enjoy seeing him so much with Brigitte again, even though the scenes they  have together are very brief. Brigitte’s performance, unfortunately, was panned, and her discomfort with speaking English can clearly be seen. Boyd’s lusty romance with Honor Blackman in the film is all too brief, as they have great chemistry on screen together. Of course,  Sean Connery gives a solid performance as the stoic hero, and he works very well with Boyd – The Scotsman vs the Irishman! I also enjoy Jack Hawkins as the cuckolded husband who eventually gets his revenge. But there could have been so much more between all these characters with a better script.  Honestly, the behind the scenes action with Bardot and Boyd was more entertaining than the movie itself!

“Sean Connery came away from “Shalako” with 30 percent piece of the take while Brigitte Bardot and Stephen Boyd came away from it with each other.”

“…a British aristocrat [Jack Hawkins] and his hot-eyed wife [Honor Blackman], who lusts after the party’s crude, leering guide [played by Stephen Boyd, who off-screen leered after someone else.] (Chicago Tribune, Nov 11, 1968)

“”Shalako” probably won’t win any new converts to Westerns. It’s too silly, for one thing, and too gory, for another….Couldn’t the brave, good cowboy, instead of the brave, bad cowboy, get killed, just once? Or would it not be possible for the treacherous woman to escape a cruel death at the hands of the Indians, against incredible odds, and to have the honorable lady succumb instead, to the very same odds? ” (Detroit Free Press, Nov 18, 1968)

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Boyd as the ruggedly handsome cowboy villain in Shalako

I must say, it will be awesome to see the film cleaned up for Blu-Ray. I greatly anticipate sitting down to watch this release as soon as it arrives on my doorstep courtesy of Amazon.com!

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Honor Blackman falls for Stephen Boyd in “Shalako” 1968

On-screen it was BB and Connery, but off-screen it was BB and Boyd.

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Boyd as the rakish Bosky Fulton
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Boyd and Blackman