Stephen Boyd filming “Jumbo” at MGM Studios 1962 – The Circus Maximus

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


Stephen Boyd Interview regarding “Billy Rose’s Jumbo”, 1963

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 Boyd talks about Doris Day

I dug out a few comments from Stephen concerning his charming “Jumbo” co-star from 1962. From an interview in the Ottawa Citizen that year, Stephen startled the interviewer by saying that Doris Day was the most exciting and sexy actress he’s worked with up until that time.

“Doris has a beautiful figure and a wonderful mouth and eyes. She dresses beautifully and she’s full of life…I never enjoyed making a picture so much in my life as with Doris. ” (Joe Hyams interview, October 29, 1962)

“I’m amazed at her versatility,” he says,”I think Doris could do any kind of drama as well as if not better than an anyone else I’ve ever worked with. She gives so much! I get on well,too, with her husband, Marty Melcher, who visits the set occasionally.” (‘Liz Taylor’s First Mark Anthony’, Hedda Hopper Interviews Stephen Boyd, June 17, 1962)

“I love Doris Day, ” he said. “Doris is not considered a sex symbol, but what a woman!” He was still talking about her when I left 20 minutes later. (Louella Parsons interview, ‘A Boyd on a Gilded Stage’, March 1964)

“I will say, for example, that Doris Day is not the girl next door, as many may believe. In fact, she’s anything but. She’s a movie star down to her twinkly toes, with all the aura, the magnetism, and the sex appeal that go with it.” (Stephen Boyd Interview By Florabel Muir, Valley Morning Star, September 18, 1966

Apparently his admiration was reciprocated in kind, and for a while there was a romance rumor swirling about concerning Boyd and Day.  According the gossip columnist Earl Wilson, this is what happened on the set of “Jumbo”.

It started when Doris- seldom interested in love scenes- enjoyed rehearsing the kissing clinches with Steve, then insisted on more and MORE rehearsals…I checked the love scene rumor with Producer Jose Pasternak who said, “Yes, when the director said ‘Cut’ during a kiss, they didn’t cut!” (Dec 6, 1962, Earl Wilson Reports)

Even the below movie add in February of 1963 was trying to capitalize on the rumor!

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Even though Boyd had nothing for admiration for his co-star, concerning the romance rumors, Boyd has this to say –  “Flabbergasted”, said Stephen Boyd when besieged by reported in London over the linking of his name with Doris Day’s, “It’s so false and ridiculous I have no words.” (Anderson Daily Bulletin, December 5, 1962)

Nevertheless, the two remained friendly, which can be seen here from a photo taken about 4 years later in 1966.