Stephen Boyd made many different films with many different women. Stephen was very congenial and a gentleman, and he usually made friends with his female co-stars and remained friends with them for many years – Bardot, Dolores Hart, Joan Collins to name a few. When he filmed the Fantastic Voyage with a very young Raquel Welch in 1965, he treated her very kindly and almost like a mentor. According to Welch, “I was terribly unsure of myself, “ she says, “I remember, when I was doing ‘Fantastic Voyage.’ Every day for five months I’d sit in the commissary at lunch with Stephen Boyd and Edmond O’Brien and Donald Pleasance and I’d hardly know what they were talking about. It wasn’t only things about acting, but words I didn’t know and restaurants and foods I’d never heard of. And I’d try to act sophisticated and knowing, but I wasn’t.” (The Times Standard, Oct 8, 1972)
In Welch’s book ‘Beyond the Cleavage’ she describes Boyd a couple of times. “I’m not the kiss-and-tell kind, but to save you racking your brain over which of the leading men I spent personal time with, I’ll narrow it down for you. Let’s see if you can guess which ones made me weak in the knees. Was is Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Elvis or Stephen Boyd? (she goes on to list several other co-stars….) Stephen Boyd had that soft Irish brogue and that cleft in the chin. He had an ironic way of looking at things and a witty charm about him.” In the photo section of her book, she features Boyd twice- one caption says “Falling for hunky Stephen Boyd in ‘Fantastic Voyage’ ” and in another quote she says, “Both of us upstaged by the cleft in his chin.” It’s pretty clear that she was smitten.
Stephen did take Welch out on the town at least once in 1965. “Handsome movie star Stephen Boyd, in town from Hollywood, forgot his wallet when he took beautiful brunette star Raquel Welch from the St. Regis Hotel to see the comedy, “Luv”. Miss Welch, starring with him in ‘Fantastic Voyage’, had no money either, not even enough to take care of the 75-cent fare. But cabbie Bruce Mullins cashed Miss Welch’s $10 check – in the theater rush hour, yet.” (Detroit Free Press, Feb 15, 1965)”
Then, strangely, at a film retrospective in New York in 2011, Raquel blasted Boyd for rejecting her advances.
“He was so hot with his cleft chin and he was so not interested in me. I tried to seduce him one time. I was so smitten with him and I was so excited every time I would come on the set I would see Stephen, and think, ‘Oh God, he’s so cute.’ He had what sounded like a Welsh brogue that was so charming. For my first trip to New York, when we opened the movie, we were both staying at the Plaza Hotel, so I thought, ‘Here’s my chance!’ So Darryl Zanuck took us all out to dinner at 21 and on the way back to the hotel we shared a cab. I said to him as we were going up in the lift, ‘So Stephen, would you like to come in for a drink?’
“We got out of the lift and he walked me to my room and he said, ‘I’d like to tell you a little story that was told to me by John Gielgud when I was working with the National Theater. You’ll have to think about it for a moment but I hope you get my drift: An actress is a little bit more than a woman, but an actor is a little bit less than a man.’
I thought, ‘Oh! He’s not interested in me; I am the wrong sex!’
“Honestly, he was such a love and he’s not here anymore. Of course I’m sure a lot of people in the National Theater knew!”
Obviously, Walsh’s planned seduction didn’t work. However, I don’t think her explanation of why is truthful. Marisa Mell had the exact same frustrating experience with Boyd herself in 1971 while filming “Marta”– a seduction not fulfilled. Yet Mell’s second encounter with Boyd in the same year turned out quite the opposite. Of all the research on Stephen Boyd I have done, I have never come across one substantial piece of evidence to suggest that Stephen was gay. Yes, he was a handsome bachelor in Hollywood, which in itself could be an accusation, but Stephen dabbled with the ladies and his life partner was Liz Mills, his secretary. Stephen Boyd was a very private person who was inherently cautious yet always a gentleman with his female co-stars.
There are many reasons why Stephen would have rejected Welch’s advances; his professionalism being number one and the plain fact that he was not interested in sleeping with this Hollywood newcomer. Welch also had her 2 young children in tow (Tahnee and Damon Welch) during the New York premiere. “Sexpot Raquel Welch is bringing her two children to New York for the premiere of her film “Fantastic Voyage” (Indianapolis Star August 16,1966). Talk about a caution light!
But to suggest Stephen was gay because he rejected her advances is simply this…”Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” For his part, this is what Boyd had to say about Welch;
“Absolutely beautiful. When I was making Fantastic Voyage it was one of her first major films and she didn’t want to be exploited too much so she stood up for herself. And I like it when people stand up for themselves. She’s one of the most beautiful women in the world and because of that much of her talent will forever go unnoticed.” ( Photo Play, October 1976)
“Your readers really have got something to look forward too, and I believe there’s quite a lot of her to see in One Million Years BC. It’s incredible this girl should be so well known before she’s even been seen in a major role—a tribute to a remarkable publicity build- up. I can assure them they won’t be disappointed in her in any way.” (The ABC of Stephen Boyd interview 1966)
Welch mentioned Boyd again in a recent interview with Los Angeles Times in August of 2016 (the 50th Anniversary of ‘Fantastic Voyage’).She vividly recalls her crush on Boyd: “I was too frightened to even flirt with him.”(http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-ca-mn-classic-hollywood-raquel-welchd20160815-snap-story.html)
Ironically, this wasn’t the only movie Boyd made with Raquel Welch. He also appeared in her excellent revenge western ‘Hannie Caulder’. The movie was made in Almeria, Spain in March of 1971. During this time Stephen Boyd was busy making lots of movies in Spain, including ‘Kill’ and ‘The Great Swindle.’ He had just completed filming ‘Marta’ with Marisa Mell in late 1970, and he took some time to film ‘Hannie Caulder’- where he appears uncredited as a silent guardian angel in black who looks over Welch during her struggles to bring down the men who brutally raped her. It’s great to see Welch and Boyd again in another movie, even though no dialogue passes between them- they merely exchange glances, which makes one wonder what the two of them were thinking.
Boyd and Welch in Fantastic Voyage 1966
See more pictures from Fantastic Voyage and Hannie Caulder!
Below, Boyd and Welch in ‘Hannie Caulder’ 1971