Whenever Stephen and Brigitte Bardot met, it generated headlines. They had first starred together in Roger Vadim’s sensually directed “The Night Heaven Fell”, filmed in Spain in 1957. Bardot had specifically chosen Boyd to be her co-star, impressed with his work in “The Man Who Never Was”. She greeted him in the nude when they first met at her Parisian apartment – with her soon to be ex-husband/film director Roger Vadim close at hand! Boyd was astonished and soon had many anecdotes about his very famous co-star. Everyone one wanted to talk to Boyd about this French sex-kitten! And Steve obliged. Just being in a Brigitte Bardot movie brought Stephen acclaim in Hollywood.
Boyd: “I’ve just finished making The Night Heaven Fell with her. We got to be great friends. ‘Beddibize‘ is just a house joke between us. She’s a very wonderful, complicated girl, impulsive, extraordinarily beautiful, and a little off her rocker. Since she discovered sex he’s been overboard. She used to chase me all over the set.” (Brigitte Bardot feature, Cosmopolitan Magazine, 1958)
On the Set of The Night Heaven Fell, Aug-Nov 1957
These two sexy stars actually became good friends and would meet periodically in Europe.
The flavor of his fury showed when we talked about Brigitte Bardot. He likes her, thinks she’s intelligent and has a grand sense of humor. “And of course she’s a woman. There’s nothing more pleasant for a man than a woman. But that man who has her under contract! If I had anything to say in this business I’d wipe this man up and down every street in the world. He’s a rank amateur, he makes home movies. I have never been so against any man, and the reason I lost so much weight on the picture was because of the nervous tension working with Raoul Levy. Personally, he’s nice but I don’t think he’s a professional” (Hedda Hopper, Feb 22, 1959, Stephen Boyd Interview)
Angered by the rumors started by Paris gossip that he and Brigitte Bardot are romancing, Steve Boyd sends word to me:
“I made a movie with Brigitte called ‘The Night Heaven Fell’ and had lunch with her one day to renew acquaintance. As far as any romance with her is concerned, it’s as remote as reaching Mars.” (I don’t know whether that’s a good comparison. Mars isn’t nearly as remove as it used to be.) Steve is in the south of France, winding up Darryl Zanuck’s “Big Gamble” (The Philadelphia Inquirer, Louella Parsons, July 6, 1960)
“…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.” (Screenland Magazine Interview, July 1961)
Stephen Boyd, making “The Inspector” in Europe, dined tete-e-tete with Brigitte Bardot the other night. But hold the romantic rumors. According to word from Steve, it was an all-business session.
Boyd and Writer Claude Reynolds have formed a partnership to make Reynolds’ original comedy “The French Mare” in Ireland this fall and Brigitte is being sought to plat the part of the French heiress who brings her thoroughbred to Dublin and becomes involved with a tout, Steve.
Bet you don’t recall that Steve and Brigitte made a picture before, in 1957, “The Night the Heavens Fell” in Paris. They are old friends. (Quad City Times, Louella Parsons, July 4, 1961)
In a 1964 Stephen Boyd feature from Cinemonde Magazine, Brigitte was quoted.
And, of course, when it was a question of giving as a lover to Brigitte, in Les Bijoutiers du Clair de Lune, a bitter, casual and savage boy, it was to Stephen that Vadim thought. It was claimed at the time that he and B.B. did not agree. It was that Brigitte was then a real little wild cat, who disdained the genuine male for the teenage favors. In this film, they formed a splendid couple, and B.B. recognizes today: “Boyd has these extraordinary eyes of dreamy will, of a blue so pure and luminous, which were those of the brothers Kennedy …”(http://leglatin.pagesperso-orange.fr/boyd/boyde.htm)
A few years later, in February of 1968, Stephen Boyd joined Brigitte Bardot once again in Spain (Almeria) for the filming of the Sean Connery western ‘Shalako’. At the time, Brigitte was married to German mogul Gunther Sachs, but had been carrying on an affair with singer/songwriter Serge Gainsbourg. The pair had just finished recording the famously scandalous song “Je t’aime…moi non plus”, which Bardot’s husband immediately suppressed from being released. Bardot parted with Gainsbourg and headed to Spain – alone. In Bardot’ s autobiography “Initials B.B.”, she expressed her thrill at meeting Boyd again– as he was a friendly face in an ocean of strangers.
“Enfin un visage, une présense presque familiere parmi tous ces étrangers!” (“Finally a face, an almost familiar presence among all these strangers!”)
This time around there were fireworks going off between two old friends, and it became the talk of the set of “Shalako”.
Then, the photograph.
“That day, I had a scene with Stephen Boyd. Feeling my distress, he took me tenderly in his arms and murmured to me soothing words that I misunderstood. He had given me a gesture of consolation which I needed so much. I did not want to leave him, finding in his presence a kind of protection. I held his hand, threw myself around his neck, looked for his company, like a lost dog clinging to an illusionary but beneficent master.”
Bardot had been struggling with the filming of ‘Shalako’ She was arriving late on set, and the director, Edward Dmytryk, was very hard on 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. Bardot grabbed Boyd around the neck–and (of course!) a photographer was on hand to capture the embrace. Their close affection for each other soon blossomed into a tabloid/media sensation as it was assumed Bardot was cheating on her current husband Gunther Sachs and her previous lover Serge Gainsbourg. Gainsbourg was so heartbroken by the photo that he wrote a beautiful farewell song to Bardot called “Initials B.B.” In the song, the last line is ‘Almeria’ – a reference where Bardot was filming “Shalako”.(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPOYtC1n5bE&sns=tw via @youtube)
So, did Stephen Boyd and Brigitte Bardot ever have an affair, either in 1957 or 1968? The chances are pretty good that they did. Both actors denied the rumors when they started to fly.
Bardot: “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.” (News Castle News, Pennsylvania, Feb 28, 1968)
Boyd: “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.” (Detroit Free Press, July 27, 1969)
Bardot: “But I am very upset he (husband Gunther Sachs) will read this report about Stephen Boyd and think maybe there is something to it. Then we will have a row and the stupid people who started this will have achieved their purpose, anyway…Some nights Steve sits at my table, some nights he doesn’t. ” (El Paso Herald Post, March 2, 1968)
Boyd ” The stories about Brigitte Bardot and me having an affair are a bunch of you know…unfortunately.” (Democrat and Chronicle, July 14, 1969)
Boyd: “I have no relationship with Miss Bardot–only in the professional sense. I am a professional actor, she is a professional actress…I know why they (rumors) 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. (El Paso Herald Post, March 2, 1968)
A Photoplay article from 1968 on the set of Shalako gives some great insight into Boyd’s state of mind about Bardot. The author was convinced that something was afoot between the two actors and tries to probe for answers. Boyd describes Bardot as “fascinating” and “marvelous”, and simply gushes about her womanly attributes. He also seems protective about her as well.
Boyd and Bardot in 1968 – friends or lovers?
photos courtesy of SB fan Emmanuel in France (thank you again!)
“But it is impossible not to see her also as a woman – she’s everything. There’s a great deal of the child-woman in her, but she is also a very exotic woman. She is her own woman – in every way.
“To me, she is a fascinating human being. I love being with her and welcome every single opportunity – unfortunately, it doesn’t come often enough.
“Mind you, there was a lot of nonsense spread around about our association on this picture. But what else are they doing to say? They see any kind of a man with Bardot and they say ‘Wooo!’ But it’s not always true.”
But who’s to say what really happened between them and how far their intimacy went. The two would stay in touch throughout 1968 an onwards, going to two “Shalako” premieres together – one in Munich, the other in London. Boyd essentially became a part of her entourage, and she would insist Boyd would appear with her at the premiere’s of Shalako. Brigitte would call Stephen frequently and talk to him for hours. One such all was even mentioned in the newspapers in late 1968.
“L’amour toujours etc: Screen-star Stephen Boyd’s beauty sleep at the Fairmont was interrupted by a phone call from Brigitte Bardot in Paris, who bear his ear for 70 minutes, not collect. I tried to get the gist of the conversation but the F’mont’s operators are incorruptible” (Herb Caen, Akron Beacon Journal, Nov 25, 1968)
Stephen and Brigitte would continue to be good friends until Stephen’s untimely death in 1977. Apparently, at one point, Brigitte had asked Stephen to marry her!
“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) From “Holy Matrimony! Better Halves and Bitter Halves: Actors, Athletes, Comedians, Directors, Divas, Philosophers, Poets, Politicians and other Celebs Talk About Marriage” by Boze Hadleigh.
For his part, this is what Boyd had to say about his friend Bardot in the mid-70’s. “I didn’t find Bardot sexy at all”, said Stephen. “I found her a frail, highly comical, deeply talented human being and completely misused for all her life. I think she’s beginning to be happier now than she’s ever been. She’s found that there’s a little more to life than what she was originally hoping for. She’s enormously attractive but not, in my eyes at least, a sexpot.” (Photoplay, 1976)
For her part, Bardot would say in her autobiography years later that Boyd was not a lover, but a close and caring friend.
Headlines and articles about Stephen Boyd and Brigitte Bardot, 1968
Stephen Boyd and Brigitte Bardot on the Set of SHALAKO, Jan-March 1968
In Munich at the Premiere of “Shalako”, October of 1968
After the filming of “Shalako” in 1968, Brigitte insisted that her friend Stephen accompany her to any of the “Shalako” premiere’s. He attended two premiere’s with her- one in Munich in October 1968, and one in London in December 1968. Below are pictures from the Munich premiere. During this premiere, “fans overturned the couple’s car, ripped Stephen’s $500 tuxedo to shreds and ripped what little else there was to rip off Brigitte”, according to the Detroit Free press. As you can see below, the pair did end up at the premiere fully clothed, but the frenzy they created is quite evident in the pictures.