50 years ago Stephen Boyd was filming “Shalako” in Almeria, Spain

It’s hard to believe that 1968 was 50 years ago, but yes, it’s true. During the early part of 1968 Stephen Boyd was busy filming “Shalako” with Sean Connery, Brigitte Bardot, Honor Blackman and Peter Van Eyck near Almeria, Spain.  According to a newspaper article at the time, Stephen was most excited to get to work with both Brigitte and Connery. Steve and Sean were acting buddies at the very beginning of their careers in Ireland while Steve co-starred with Brigitte at the outset of her career in “The Night Heaven Fell.”  (Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Nov 23, 1967)

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Stephen Boyd wines and dines with Brigitte Bardot during “Shalako”

I would very much like to thank mega-Stephen Boyd fan Emmanuel in France for kindly emailing me these amazing behind the scenes photos of Boyd and BB on one of their evenings out during the filming of “Shalako”.  This was when the rumors were flying about a possible romance between the two actors. You can see why!

I wonder what Brigitte Bardot is going to give Stephen Boyd when they finish work on the flicker they’re currently shooting. Last time the twosome co-starred in a movie Brigitte surprised Stephen with a unique and special version of the film. She gathered together all the film censors had deleted as being too sizzling and spliced it together to form her own private version of a stag movie starring Brigitte and Steve. (Hartford Courant, Jan 17, 1968)

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)

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: “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)

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Actor Cesar Lucas posts an Instagram photo with Stephen Boyd from the Shalako set, 1968 (posted April 28, 2018)

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Brigitte and Stephen cause a commotion in Munich, 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 pics.

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Stephen Boyd and Brigitte Bardot in 1968- “Initials B.B.”

Whenever Stephen and Brigitte Bardot met, it generated headlines. They had starred together in Roger Vadim’s beautifully 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”.) The two became good friends and would meet periodically in Europe. 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!”

Then, the photograph.

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“Ce jour-là, j’avais une scène avec Stephen Boyd. Sentant ma détresse il me prit tendrement dans ses bras et me murmura des paroles apaisantes que je compris mal. qu’importe, il avait eu envers moi un geste de réconfort dont j’avais tant besoin. je ne le quittai plus, trouvant en sa présence une espèce de protection. Je lui tenais la main, me jetais à son cou, recherchais sa compagnie, comme un chien perdu s’accroche à un maître illusoire mais bienfaisant.”

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”.

For her part, Bardot would say in her autobiography that Boyd was not a lover, but a close and caring friend. The two would stay in touch throughout 1968 an onwards, going to two premiere’s together for ‘Shalako’- one in Munich, the other in London. 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)

This Italian magazine is an example of the hype during 1968. The lower picture shows Bardot sitting on Boyd’s lap (only his hand his visible) while watching a Spanish guitar show.

 

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