Stephen Boyd and Clark Gable

At the start of Stephen Boyd’s Hollywood career, he was quickly compared to the legendary Clark Gable as a handsome, tough heart-breaker on the big screen. Gable himself had started out in villain roles then proceeded to become the King of Hollywood,  starring as the witty, masculine and charismatic Rhett Butler in 1939’s “Gone with the Wind”. Advertiser’s for both “The Night Heaven Fell” in 1958 and “Woman Obsessed” and 1959 tag-lined Stephen as “The Young New Clark Gable” or simply just “the New Gable”. Even Hedda Hopper liked to compare Boyd to Gable, and Boyd himself agreed modestly that some of the Gable type roles would have suited him as well. These comparisons faded, obviously, after Boyd’s career took a different path. He did not become the next Clark Gable in Hollywood. But the comparison is still intriguing. In fact, in one of Stephen’s later movies “Slaves” in 1969, Boyd resembles Gable’s Rhett Butler more than ever in his looks with his debonair mustache and 19th century Southern gentleman’s wardrobe!



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When I told him I thought of him as the new Clark Gable of this era, although a far more vital type than Gable, he (Boyd)  shook his head, puzzled: “It’s difficult to associate myself along those lines,” he said. “But I daresay the roles Gable has played are roles I’m suited for. I prefer a two line part with genuine character to an innocuous one such as I had in ‘Woman Obsessed’…after I read a story I ask myself whom do I remember. That is the part that will be remembered on screen. I’d like to try some kinds of roles Arthur Kennedy plays- something with guts and vitality. (Pittsburgh Press, Hedda Hopper Interview, Jan 31, 1960)

Charlton Heston as “Ben-Hur” gives a performance of  utmost convection and sincerity, while Stephen Boyd as “Messala” brings to the screen one of the most vital portrayals since Gable’s Rhett Butler. (Pittsburgh Press,  Jan 20, 1960)

Clark Gable couldn’t love the billing Stephen Boyd gets in the Brigitte Bardot picture, “The Night Heaven Fell.” The advertising refers to Steve as “The Young New Clark Gable…”  (Anderson Daily Bulletin, Aug 12, 1958)

He (Boyd) thinks they’re nuts when they call him “another Gable.” (Modern Screen, June 1960)

Asked once how it felt to be labeled Hollywood’s biggest sexboat since Gable in his prime, Steve replied, with a slightly forlorn look, “I’d rather be known as a good actor. Sexboats recede with their hairlines, but actors get better and better.” (Unknown clipping, 1960)


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An interesting newspaper clipping from 1969 that happens to shows Boyd’s Nathan McKay from “Slaves” and Clark Gable’s Rhett Butler from “Gone with the Wind” on the same page. It is striking how similar they look in these two movies. (Terre Haute Tribune, Aug 24, 1969)

“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.’

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.

Stephen Boyd talks about Eleanor Parker, his co-star from “The Oscar”

Not sure where this quote came from, but I would love to find the source!

Stephen Boyd lamented: Beats me why Eleanor Parker was through by the time she was forty. She had everything – looks, talent, character. Oscar nominations. It’s one of those situations where the only logical answer to the question: Why didn’t she become a bigger star? Must be that she refused to sleep with some mogul or top producer. Nothing else would make sense.

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Stephen Boyd in South Africa- “Control Factor”, 1972

Stephen Boyd filmed two movies in South Africa sometime in late 1971 to early 1972; “The African Story” and “Control Factor”. Both films feature virtually the same obscure cast members (the incredibly bland Michael Kirner and Marie du Toit) and the same Cape Town setting.   “Control Factor” (or “The Big Game”) seems to be the second of the two as Stephen’s mustache is fully grown here and would remain with him for the next couple years! The story was written by Ralph Anders, who also wrote “African Story”. It’s an action/science fiction tale which features Stephen as the main protagonist Leyton Van Dyk who is trying to help implement some sort of government mind-control device which has been invented by a scientist. The scientist has two sons, one of whom is a diplomatic attaché who gets kidnapped and brainwashed in Hong Kong by terrorists who know about this special device.  As the device is shipped out to South Africa with Van Dyk aboard, the vessel is attacked by the terrorists who want to seize the device for themselves. It was directed by Robert Day, who was also a prolific television director. The movie features a couple of other well known actors, Ray Milland  (the scientist) and France Nuyen (the terrorist).  The soundtrack is an excellent example of early 70’s Italian film music by Francesco de Masi.

This is a very low budget production, but it is entertaining to see Stephen as an action hero. This would probably qualify as one of Stephen’s ‘slumming’ assignments (or golf vacations!) for which he was probably paid a nice sum to do very little. But, hey,  it’s the irrepressibly handsome Stephen in all sorts of shades of 70’s brown; brown shirts, brown jackets, brown pants. Also, check out the plethora of 70’s wood paneling- everywhere!! It is also refreshing to see a movie filmed in South Africa. The dramatic shoreline and interesting Cape Town setting makes great scenery for the story.

Since it is impossible to find any production material on this film, I made a number of screen shots below.

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