Below are some nice newspaper ads for “Jumbo” starring Doris Day and Stephen Boyd when the movie was released in December of 1962, and a few funny stories about the filming of the movie in early 1962 at the MGM Culver City Studio. The film was so big that it covered two enormous lots and two large stage sets at MGM!
“MGM hasn’t seen anything like it since the Circus Maximus – if then. “Billy Rose’s Jumbo” (as they are calling it now) is all over the place…The elephants are housed on Lot 2; so are the horses being trained for Doris Day…The picture is spilling all over the sprawling Culver City studio. The main tent has been erected twice–on Lot 3, about a mile from the studio proper measuring 130×180 ft, and capable of seating 2,000 people, and on Stage 15, MGM’s largest. Here the actual circus acts, some 50 in number, will be shot, and here Miss Day Stephen Boyd and others will perform on trapeze and tightrope.
The big top on Lot 3 is surrounded by a menagerie, a mess tent, a wardrobe tent, wagons, and a sideshow, complete with a merry-go-round. Still another stage, 29, will be utilized for filming the close-up dramatic scenes.
The Los Angeles Times, Feb 7, 1962
“On the set of MGM’s “Jumbo,” Stephen Boyd, who appears opposite Doris Day as a high-wire specialist and clown, recalled his own humble beginning as a London street busker, or funny man. He remembered that a Bobby watched him try to raise a crowd to earn a few pennies. The policeman sauntered over and said : “After you’re through bein’ funny, mate, you can join the mourners at St. Paul’s.”
The Los Angeles Times, Feb 25, 1962
Stephen Boyd, co-starring with Doris Day in MGM’s “Jumbo,” discovered, much to his discomfort, that the sequence in which he goes into the cage and subdues a lion was scheduled for the last day of shooting. So Boyd went to the animal’s trainer to ask about the lions culinary habits. “Oh,” the trainer said nonchalantly, “I wouldn’t worry too much about Pete. He’s ferocious looking, but he’s from Italy, and over there he chomped up so many martyrs in those Italian movies that I don’t think he’d go for you.” Boyd retreated as gracefully as possible and was heard muttering: “I played Messala in ‘Ben-Hur’ and I don’t think you could call him a martyr.”
The Los Angeles Times, April 29, 1962
“Jumbo” has completed filming at MGM, and a variety of amusing incidents during production have been noted here and elsewhere. There was one on the final day when Stephen Boyd was called upon to drive a farm wagon drawn by a spirited horse. After Boyd finished his rehearsals, director Charles Walters commented :”That’s great, Steve, but can you come around that curve a little faster?” The star answered with a question: “Didn’t you see ‘Ben-Hur’?”
The Los Angeles Times, August 26, 1962
This is a very insightful interview from April 7, 1963, in the Longview News Journal (Texas) about the opening of “Jumbo”. Stephen had a very fun time filming “Jumbo” on the MGM lot with Doris Day, Martha Raye and Jimmy Durante during the early part of 1962. “I’ve never had so much fun working in my life.” (Hedda Hopper Interview, Chicago Tribune June 17 1962). Initially MGM had wanted Richard Burton for the role, but since Burton had taken Boyd’s place as Mark Anthony in the re-vamped version of “Cleopatra”, Boyd was the studio’s alternate choice. Burton and Boyd essentially swapped roles! Boyd describes in this interview his favorite scene in “Jumbo” – the merry-go-round duet with Doris Day and the waltz through the empty circus grounds. He also points out his favorite movie actor, John Wayne, and his favorite stage actors, Laurence Olivier and Michael Redgrave. “I’ll never forget the kindness of the trouble he (Redgrave) took to help me when I had nowhere to turn,” Boyd says. It also mentions his passion of golf and his fascination with bullfighting. It sounds like Boyd may have wanted to become an amateur bull fighter in his off time. Considering how much time he spent in Spain making movies, I’m surprised it never happened in real life! In addition, the article praises Stephen’s courage for piloting a monoplane in “Jumbo” (he also acted as a pilot years later during the filming of “The Treasures of Jamaica Reef”) and entering the cage of lions as the circus lion-tamer in movie’s finale sequence. “I’ll try anything once,” he says “like any good Irishman.”
Stephen’s Outrageous Patter
Boyd, the Actor and the Lover
Stephen Boyd, of ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ fame, will be seen on Detroit screens this week as Jamuga, the hated enemy of ‘Genghis Khan’, opening Wednesday at neighborhoods and drive-ins. Boyd was lined up for the Mark Anthony role in ‘Cleopatra,’ but that was aborted during production troubles and the part finally was filled by a man named Burton.
By Susan Hopper, Detroit Free Press August 26, 1965
Special to the Free Press
HOLLYWOOD — What kind of fellow is this Stephen Boyd? Listen to him talking:
Why he won’t look at his own movies:
“I’m not the kind of actor I want to watch.”
On Doris Day, Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot”
“The only difference between them is their hair style.”
One who are the greatest lovers”
“I doubt that Latins or Frenchman are the greatest lovers. Their women are all right: they’re pliable. But I’d rather have an Anglo- Saxon.”
On this marriage, which quickly ended in divorce:
“I was in love with the girl I married. I’d been with her four months. We married and stayed together 19 days, which was too long. We were fine before marriage, but immediately you sign that little paper marking it legal…I’m not altar shy, but I’m not making it legal again.”
Why he became an American citizen:
“I wanted to say thank you for a way of life. I want to give something back to America, and you can only do it if you’re a citizen and can vote and take part in community affairs.”
Some of the things Ulster-born Boyd has done in recent years include going to Hollywood in order to make his fortune and making it—and setting some sort of record in the brevity-of-marriage stakes.
“When I left Britain in 1956, “ he said, “they were making the kind of pictures which were surface. I’m not a surface actor. Cary Grant is and a brilliant one. David Niven is.”
“I’m a naturalistic actor of the Irish and French schools. In a film, if I go up to someone and say something to her, she either slaps my face or we have an affair. In English films, actors go up to a girl and say these same things and she’s supposed to laugh. I can’t say it that way. I can never stop being myself when I’m acting.”
Boyd explained what he meant by himself.
“I can only play a man who’s between 25-45. He’s got to be physically sort of—well he’s got to look strong. Don’t you think?”
Boyd leaned across the restaurant table and lifted his sunburned brows high over his round, blue eyes—somehow managing to look quizzical and good-natured and leering all at the same time.
“There’s a limit to what I can play. No matter what I do, I’m gonna look like me. You know?”
When he feels like it, Boyd speads in an accent which 99 percent of the Enlgish assume is a typical American accent; ‘going’ becomes ‘gonna’, ‘something’ becomes ‘sumpin,’ etc.
“Since I’ve been back in Britain, I keep being told I sound American. But when I go home to Northern Ireland, my mother says, ‘I see you haven’t lost your accent,’ And she’s right. The American accent is based on the Irish one.”
Another theory of Boyd’s concerns British actresses and why they often lament being underrated internationally;
“I think there are quite a few girls in Britain who could make international stars. I met Samantha Eggar the other day. She looks beautifully sexy and alive. You know? But the awful thing about it is the majority of the girls in Britain really have got to do something about their accents if they want to be in international films. They all sound so national….so terribly, terribly, terribly. You know what I mean? They’ve got to learn to speak English—which is a beautiful language—not English that is only understood in one little community like Oxford. You know, I’ve never liked a lot of make-up on women. You don’t know how to break through. It’s almost like being in prison. You know? Let-me-know-when-I-touch-skin. What do they put so much on for? Huhh? It takes longer to take off. And time is a very important thing.”
Boyd did not waste a minute of it in his marriage to film agent Mariella di Sarzana.
“When you legalize something, it becomes a great big fight to hold the romance. Almost the biggest problem in life becomes this damn search for the romance you had—just five minutes before you signed the register. To hell with that lark. Marriage is a very strange thing. I don’t like organizations.”
I asked Mr. Boyd if he ever grew irked at being organized by agents and producers and directors. He looked at me in astonishment.
“Hell, no,” he said simply, “They’re running around trying to organize themselves. While they’re trying to do that, I do my work and walk away with the money.”