Marriage and Family

Stephen Boyd had three marriages in his life. Two of those marriages were official, and one marriage (a gypsy wedding with actress Marisa Mell) that was not legally recognized. Stephen never had any children and once said, “There are certain things lacking in me–I’d hate to run the risk of transferring any of my shortcomings to any children of mine.” Stephen truly enjoyed the freedom of bachelor life for most of his years.  “I definitely prefer the freedom of bachelorhood, even though it may look like trying to escape from responsibilities.” (From The ABC of Stephen Boyd article).

Mariella Di Sarzana 1958-1959

Marcella was an MCA executive who met Stephen as soon as he arrived in Rome to start filming Ben Hur in mid 1958. According to Stephen  he knew he wanted to marry her the first moment he saw her. She was a very petite Italian who was highly educated; she spoke eight languages. They married in London in August of 1958 during a short break from the filming of “Ben Hur”. Unfortunately many circumstances made this engagement very short lived. Stephen blamed himself for not being ready for marriage. After a short month, they separated. The divorce was final on March 20, 1959 after Mariella made a brief visit to Hollywood. After this experience, Stephen became very leery of marital attachments and remained a very happy bachelor for most of the rest of his life. Mariella herself remarried after her breakup with Boyd. No other details about her later life are documented.

Article concerning Boyd’s divorce,  Austin Daily Herald, March 21,1959

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Marisa Mell 1970-1971

Stephen Boyd made 2 films with Austrian actress Marisa Mell from 1970-1971 – Marta and The Great Swindle. During the first film, Boyd dodged Mell’s amorous advances, but by the time the second film was made a few months later, Boyd was pursuing Mell. For Boyd, Mell represented his ideal femme fatale. He once admitted that dark, exotic brunettes were his biggest trap. The pair became inseparable lovers for a few short months. Boyd whisked Mell off to become his wife by Gypsy law in a gypsy camp just outside of Madrid. The ceremony included a wrist cutting exchange of blood to seal their bond. It seems this unofficial marriage was about as hasty as his previous marriage to Sarzana. However, this attachment was overwrought with mystical and physical potency that was felt by both Boyd and Mell. The couple felt ‘possessed’ by their passion- so much so that they literally tried to exorcise it at a sanctuary in northern Italy! Boyd abruptly broke off the affair when he literally became physically ill. Marisa Mell had this unusual explanation about her break-up with Boyd.  “We both believe in reincarnation, and we realized we’ve already been lovers in three different lifetimes, and in each one I made him suffer terribly.”  (The Akron Beacon Journal, June 16, 1972) For her part, Marisa Mell would fondly remember Boyd years later in her autobiography ‘Cover Love’ – dedicating a whole chapter to their affair. She died of throat cancer in 1992 at the age of 53.

Read more about Marisa Mell here - and

Elizabeth Mills 1974-1977

Elizabeth M Mills knew Stephen from the early 1950’s in London when she worked for the Arts Council of Great Britain. In 1960 she came to Hollywood to work as Stephen’s personal secretary, as he was getting overwhelmed with fan mail. Elizabeth lived with Stephen at his Tarzana home for many years, often taking care of his property when he was away filming overseas. Liz was Boyd’s closest confidante and they also shared the same personal friends from England, like Tony and Sheilah Till and their daughter Valerie, who Stephen adored. (The Tills were guests during Stephen Boyd’s appearance on This Is Your Life in 1960)  Later in life, around 1974, they wed in a quiet ceremony in London. There was a distinct age gap between them: Elizabeth was born October 3, 1912, which would make her 19 years older than Stephen (He was born in 1931). She was with Stephen when he had a heart attack golfing at Porter Valley Golf Course in Northridge, California. She stayed in Tarzana the rest of her life, but moved to a different address. She passed away January 30, 2007 at the age of 94. She was laid to rest with Stephen at Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Chatsworth, California. (see Elizabeth had been Stephen’s lifelong companion and confidante.

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Stephen was the youngest of 9 children (4 sisters, 4 brothers)  from a poor Protestant family in Glengormley, a town just outside of Belfast . He was very close to his mother Martha; he even took her maiden name ‘Boyd’ as his stage name. She was a descendant of the Bally-castle Boyd’s of Northern Ireland, who most likely hailed from Scotland. His father William was of Canadian descent. He worked as a truck driver and was also a recovered alcoholic. Stephen was also very close to his brothers James (20 years his elder) and Alex Millar. Needless to say, Stephen had a very large extended family. During his Hollywood years he would visit Belfast at least once a year. After the Troubles began in Ireland in the early  1970’s, sadly, Stephen would not visit again. Once Stephen had earned enough money from Ben-Hur he bought his mother and father a nice home in Belfast on Swanston Road which they promptly nicknamed ‘Messala.’ Both of Stephen’s parents died in the mid-1970’s.

Below, pictures of Stephen with his father William and his mother Martha.


Stephen Boyd spent his early years at his parents small home in Glengormley, Northern Ireland, just outside of Belfast. When he moved to London in the early 1950’s, the only address I have been able to track down is from a tax withholding form which shows the address of 46 Fairholm Road in London. In 1958, when Stephen moved to the Hollywood he had a home or apartment  on Sunset Boulevard and later also a home in Palm Springs. However, Stephen Boyd spent most of his time in “The Valley”, as its called. He moved into his ranch style Tarzana home in April of 1961. This house was most likely located at 5520 Donna Avenue in Tarzana, California, 91356. It was built in 1947. It’s a quiet residence just off the main city street.

Personal Documents Concerning Stephen Boyd

Birth Certificate- obtained from Wikipedia


Employee’s Withholding Exemption Certificate- found on Ebay- Showing also Stephen’s London Address from 1956

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