Stephen Boyd is asked : “What Makes a Woman Seductive?”

During a very difficult stretch in his career in early 1961, while Stephen Boyd was waiting for “Cleopatra” to get started, he gave an interview with Screenland magazine. “Even in my early and grimmest London period I was never this long without acting assignments,” Stephen bemoaned. His luck was about to change and “Lisa” (The Inspector) with Dolores Hart was coming around the corner to save him. Unfortunately for Elizabeth Taylor, she contracted double pneumonia around this time and almost died! The “Cleopatra” project was postponed once again. 

The title of the article was “What Makes a Woman Seductive?”  Stephen describes some of his favorite female movie stars and their sex appeal. It’s a fascinating account!

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“What makes a woman seductive?” he repeats my question and mulls it over. “I’m only a mere man and so I’m afraid I can’t define this mysterious substance. But every man knows it when he meets it. In  my opinion Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor are two of the most seductive women on the screen. Miss Monroe accentuates femininity by daring aggressiveness through exposure; Miss Taylor’s seductiveness is more diffused but the effect is just as alluring. Brigitte Bardot (who has the most animal in her of any woman I’ve ever known) would be third on my list and Sophia Loren fourth. And Kim Novak has an incredible pull that few men can ignore.”

“I’m certain if you asked ten men you’d get different answers, for the question of seductiveness is a highly personal one. A woman may be a packaged Cleopatra or Helen of Troy to one man and lacking in seductiveness to another. Personally, the way a woman walks–that little undulation seen from the rear– is seductive. But when it’s overdone, it’s ludicrous. How she wears her clothes adds to detracts from her ability to captivate a man. For me, petite women are more provocative than tall ones but whether they’re blonde, brunette or redheads doesn’t matter.”

“Sex appeal in a woman isn’t only a physical quality but is mental and emotional as well. A beautiful woman evokes merely admiration from men while sex appeal evokes excitement. Beauty and sex appeal don’t always go together. A plain woman can suddenly become attractive in response to a man’s unexpected attention. It changes her conception of herself, adds a feeling of power, a sense of confidence and so awakens her sex appeal. The same holds true of a man.”

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Stephen Boyd’s top five most seductive actresses: Monroe, Taylor, Bardot, Loren and Novak

Particular Praise for BB

“…when I was in Paris, I renewed my acquaintance with Brigitte Bardot. Immediately the press nominated me as the next Mr. Bardot. It was ridiculous; I don’t go around breaking up marriages. Brigitte and I had made “The Night Heaven Fell” (which I’d like to forget) and of course I wanted to see her again. Around BB you feel more alive than you normally do. She has intelligence and humor and best of all, she knows how to listen. So many women really don’t, you know. Brigitte is a remarkable woman, at times a bit exhausting, but there’s no romance between us.”

To read the entire interview, please see https://stephenboydblog.com/archives/https://stephenboydblog.com/archives/

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Oscar Awards : Shouldn’t Stephen Boyd have been nominated for his role in “Ben-Hur”?

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Stephen Boyd…outspoken Irishman

Supporting Actors Pose Movie Woe by Bob Thomas, March 23, 1960 (The Corpus Christ Caller Times)

Hollywood – The Motion Picture Academy still hasn’t solved its supporting-actor problem.

The support category in the Oscar sweepstakes has vexed Hollywood ever since 1944. That was the year when Barry Fitzgerald was nominated for both star and support awards for his performance in “Going My Way.”

Changing Rules

Absurd? Of course. The academy has kept changing its rules ever since (Fitzgerald finally won for support). For a while, actors in hit films permitted themselves to be demoted to supporting class to qualify in that less competitive race. Now the academy rules that any actor with star billing– usually denoted by having his name appear above the title — must compete in the star race.

That still isn’t the answer, as you can see in the case of Stephen Boyd. Recently he won the Hollywood foreign press award as best supporting player because of his work in “Ben-Hur.” Yet he drew no Oscar nomination, because he had star billing in the film.

“Ridiculous!” declares the outspoken Irishman. “I was a supporting player in the picture. Every other role in ‘Ben-Hur’ was in support of Chuck Heston.

“Why, not counting the chariot sequence, my role lasted only a half-hour on the screen. Now how can you call that a starring role?”

Boyd remarked that Hugh Griffith had a much larger role than he did. Yet Griffith was nominated for support, while Boyd remained a star.

“Nobody can tell me that Thelma Ritter is not a star, yet she was nominated for support for ‘Pillow Talk,” the actor added. That’s another incongruity. Some noted character performers never get star billing, though their roles are stellar. Yet some top names will accept minor roles as long as they get the balm of star billing. You figure it out.

Boyd has always managed to speak his mind in this town, and it made him a puzzle for his studio (20th Century Fox). For instance, the bosses were taken aback when he refused to take the role of Boaz in “The Story of Ruth.”

“It;s a good script, but I felt I couldn’t add anything to the role,” he remarked. “It wouldn’t have helped me and it wouldn’t have helped the picture.”

He was equally vocal about wanting to do “Let’s Make Love” with Marilyn Monroe after Gregory Peck walked out of the lead. But it went to Yves Montand instead.

“That was a part I would have done,” Boyd complained. “The studio didn’t think I could do comedy.

“Good lord, for about 10 years I played 50 different plays a year in repertory in England. About 10 of those would be dramas. I got my first big breaks in films doing comedy.”

Fatalistic View

Boyd takes rather a fatalistic view of his service with the 20th-Fox, which extends another two and a half years. He’ll stick it out – but in the roles he thinks he can do. During that time, he’ll make no move to change his citizenship.

“That’s a big step, and I’d never do it while I was under contract and had to stay in the country,” he reasoned.

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“Stephen Boyd’s Main Assets: He Knows His Mind, Has ‘Wallop’ “, 1960 Interview by Erskine Johnson

STEPHEN BOYD’S MAIN ASSETS: HE KNOWS HIS MIND, HAS “WALLOP”

By Erskine Johnson

Jan 9, 1960

HOLLYWOOD- (NEA) – A brass hat and the armor of a Roman warrior in “Ben-Hur” does for Stephen Boyd what a tight dress does for Marilyn Monroe.

In the movie trade it’s called “box office wallop.”

Appearing in mufti in half a dozen movies, young Boyd, an Irishman from Belfast, was just a darn good actor, but one who started no fan riots.

But as the Roman heavy Messala in “Ben-Hur,” well, the riots have started. Old dolls are flipping their wigs, young dolls are flipping their pony tails and fan magazine editors are flipping their pages to make room for Boyd.

Boyd loses the chariot race to Charlton Heston in the film, but he wins big-time stardom as a “personality actor,” something we haven’t had on the screen in some time.

That costume literally turns him into a giant of a man and a giant of a star in the good, old Hollywood tradition. Today the offers are pouring in.

Movie makers can’t wait to have Boyd buckle on a sword for more swashbuckling all the way from ancient Rome to the walls of Disneyland, and he’s already been cast as Boaz in the new 20th Century Fox spectacle, “The Story of Ruth.”

But young actors in Hollywood today are rugged individualists – and that’s “The Story of Boyd,” who says he knows what kind of roles he can play and what kind of roles he cannot play, in no uncertain words and no uncertain tone of voice.

With his box office wallop hitting the big time in “Ben-Hur,” Fox, where he is under contract, immediately announced his casting as Boaz.

To which Boyd immediately announced, “no, thank you,” which immediately started Hollywood buzzing that he didn’t want to appear in another costumer spectacle immediately following “Ben-Hur,” or he didn’t like the script.

Both reasons are wrong, according to Boyd, who told me”

“I’m an actor who knows exactly what I’m capable of playing. I’m not ready for the role of Boaz. If someone asked me today to star in a film version of ‘Hamlet,’ I’d say the same thing – ‘I’m not ready.’

“I wouldn’t know what to do with Hamlet, and I don’t know what to do with Boaz. I think the picture would be much better without me. It’s a good script – a great script. It’s a great role – for someone else, not me.

“I’ve ruined pictures before because I’ve been talked into them against my better judgement. I’d starve – and I have starved – rather than accept a role I’m not ready for.

“I need to work, but this part is just wrong for me.”

Since he had been dedicated to acting since the age of 10, and since he is a moody, volatile fellow, the studio wasn’t too surprised.

Now threatened with suspension, Boyd is sitting it out while the studio and his agents fight it out.

Born in Belfast of a poor family, Boyd first appeared on U.S. movie screens as the Irish spy in “The Man Who Never Was.”

“Island in the Sun,” “The Bravados,” “Woman Obsessed,” and several European films, one with Brigitte Bardot, followed. “Ben-Hur” was his 12th, and the cincher for his career.

While working in “Ben-Hur” in Rome, he was married briefly to a doll who represents the MCA office there. By the time he returned to Hollywood they were divorced. His explanation:

“I honestly thought this was it, but I’m an Irish so-and-so when I’m working.”

Right now 20th Century Fox is discovering that he’s an Irish so-and-so when he doesn’t want to work in a role he says “I’m not ready for.*

BENHURVESPACUTE

Stephen Boyd and Marilyn Monroe

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One of Stephen’s most interesting ‘what could have been’ cinema moments was his chance to star with Hollywood’s biggest star – Marilyn Monroe. Stephen was one of many actors who tried out for the part opposite the famous blonde in Let’s Make Love. the auditions took place in early 1960. Boyd was just coming off his huge success in MGM’s Ben Hur, but he was signed to a different studio,  20th Century Fox, who wanted to maximize his current popularity quickly. Around that same time, Boyd had bowed out of the part of Boaz in the Fox biblical epic with Elana Eden, the Story of Ruth.

“I wanted very much to play the role of the billionaire in “Let’s make Love” with Marilyn Monroe. It’s a wonderful role. But I knew I wasn’t ready for the role of Boaz. Maybe a year from now I’d feel differently. I know now that I’m not right for a milk-and-water juvenile roles. I must have something with guts and vitality.” (Silver Screen June 1960)

Needless to say, 20th Century Fox  was not happy with Boyd’s decision to refuse the role.  Fox assigned actor Stuart Whitman to the part, and Boyd did not get the part he wanted with Monroe. This part went to French actor Yves Montand instead.  Most likely the Studio was putting its foot down to let the somewhat strong-willed actor know he was still under obligation to their wishes. Boyd was eventually assigned to his next role- the African adventure “The Big Gamble” with Juliette Greco.

All we can do now is imagine how Boyd and Monroe magic would have been on screen together!

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