“I’m No Casanova,” Says Stephen Boyd – to Reassure Mother (1960 Interview)

“I’m No Casanova,” Says Stephen Boyd – to Reassure Mother

Sure, he was introduced to Brigitte Bardot (by her husband) when she was scantily clad, and lost 25 pounds making a film with her. But then, he always loses weight when making a film, even when he’s costarred with a chariot, Irishman says.

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By James Bacon, Associated Press Writer

Courier Journal Nov 13, 1960

LONDON, Nov 12 – Stephen Boyd, the virile Irishman, would like to shake the reputation that is the envy of many another star.

“I really am no Casanova,” says Boyd. “And besides, my mother in Belfast reads all these stories about my so-called love escapades – and it bothers her.

I reminded Boyd that stories linking him with Brigitte Bardot and Hope Lange undoubtedly provided many of the typewriter excesses.

“It’s basically true that I was introduced to Brigitte while he was in a state of dishabille, and that I later lost 25 pounds while making a picture with her.

“But the stories omit that her then husband introduced us, and she quickly threw a towel around herself, and that I lost 25 pounds while making ‘The Big Gamble’ and 20 pounds while making ‘Ben-Hur.’ I always lose weight while working, whether my costar is Miss Bardot or a chariot.”

Boyd said he took Hope Lange to many parties while they were working together on a picture and while she was apparently still happily married to actor Don Murray.

“Hope was separated from Murray, but few people knew it,” says Boyd. “I do not go out with happily  married women – or even unhappily married women whose marriage is still intact. I’m no cad.”

The Lange-Murray separation had long been official.

Boyd now is costarred with Liz Taylor, playing Marc Anthony to her Cleopatra. She has been sick with a mysterious ailment that has delayed production.

 “I always yearned to make Hollywood,” says Boyd, “but as soon as I did, I got sent to Rome for a year for ‘Ben-Hur,’ to France, England, and Africa for six months on ‘The Big Gamble,’ and now another six or eight months in London for ‘Cleopatra.’

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Hope Lange and Stephen Boyd, here shown in a scene from “The Best of Everything,” were linked romantically by some of the Hollywood gossip columnists.

Stephen Boyd and Hope Lange- filming “The Best of Everything”, 1959

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Legendary actress Joan Crawford shown with Twentieth Century player Stephen Boyd in this promo photo from The Best of Everything.

Stephen Boyd filmed The Best of Everything with Hope Lange in early 1959. The film was released later that same year, about 2 months before the release of Ben Hur (the movie which would propel Stephen to stardom). The movie was filmed at Fox Studios in Los Angeles, but also some actual New York City scenes were filmed at the Seagram Building at 375 Park Avenue and other locations around the city and in Long Island as well. The story follows the tales of three young women living together in New York who work at the fictitious Fabian Publishing Company and their struggles. The movie was based on the sexy eponymous popular novel by female author Rona Jaffe. Stephen plays Mike Rice, an editor at Fabian’s who is also an entrenched alcoholic. As in the novel, Mike and Caroline Bender, played by the lovely Hope Lange of Peyton Place fame, become close friends. The book is more graphic about their affair, which obviously couldn’t be incorporated into the movie version, but there are some subtle hints. In the book, Mike explains how he finds release from his sexual desire for Caroline alone at night, and Caroline is embarrassed by his ‘adolescent’ confession, but Mike explains how it brings him closer to her. In the movie, you can tell that Boyd had read the book. When speaking to Caroline in one scene, he is deliberately stroking his drink glass with his left hand for a very suggestive affect.

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I like the movie ending much better, however, as in the book, after a quick affair, Mike and Caroline drift apart and the novel loses its focus. Fortunately, Hollywood changed this and made these two characters hook up at the end. Obviously, as Rona Jaffe points out in the films DVD commentary, Boyd’s character doesn’t seem to be giving up his alcoholic ways, but this didn’t deter Hollywood from pairing the two good looking  actors together for a romantic ending.  Boyd plays Mike Rice with a touch of patronizing tenderness and empathy, as well as rugged masculine charm.  Boyd received high marks for his portrayal at the time, and he looks ravishingly handsome in the 50’s suit-coats, but he was somewhat overshadowed by such a large cast, including screen legend Joan Crawford and international favorite Louis Jourdan. If you watch this picture now, Boyd does seem to give the most interesting performance, and one wishes he was on the screen more often.  The movie is considered somewhat of a cult classic about the misogynist atmosphere in the 50’s work place, and was a basis for the popular AMC television show Mad Men (apparently the cast was required to watch this film to prepare for their roles). The movie also has a spectacular score by Alfred Newman and great theme song sung by Johnny Mathis.   For more about the filming of “The Best of Everything”, see this link – http://www.joancrawfordbest.com/magvanityfair304.htm

Movie screen shots below and current photos of the Seagram Building area in New Yotk City. You can clearly still see the building which is shown behind Boyd and Lange at the end of the movie. The movie ends with Boyd and Lange walking past St. Bartholomew’s Church on the west side of Park Avenue and 51st street, headed towards the Helmsley Building which can be scene in the distance. You can visit this location today and see many Best of Everything landmarks!

See also:

Joan Crawford Word Press Blog, https://joancrawfordheaven.wordpress.com/

Hope Lange and Stephen Boyd, https://wordpress.com/post/stephenboydblog.wordpress.com/1102

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Seagram Building

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Walking on Park Avenue West Side and 51st street
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St. Bartholomew’s Church on the left
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The Helmsley Building Park Avenue

 New York Scenes 2016 of Best of Everything locations at Seagram Building & St. Bartholomew’s Church

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Stephen with author Rona Jaffe on the set of The Best of Everything.

CANDIDBESTOF EVERYTHINGs-l1600Boyd at rehearsal for The Best of Everything. Note that he is still wearing his wedding band on his left ring finger. His divorce from Mariella Di Sarzana would be finalized about a month an a half later in March of 1959.

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Boyd and Lange’s close friendship during the filming of The Best of Everything became popular tabloid material.BOEIMG-00BOE3 (2)

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FABIAN.AKA Fabiano Anthony Forte Bonaparte.with Stuart Whitman and Stephen Boyd on the set of The Best of Everything.Supplied by   Photos inc.(Credit Image: A© Supplied By Globe Photos Inc/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
Fabiano Anthony Forte Bonaparte with Stuart Whitman and Stephen Boyd on the set of The Best of Everything.Supplied by Photos inc.(Credit Image: A© Supplied By Globe Photos Inc/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
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Pop star Fabian visits the set with Hope Lange, Stuart Whitman and Stephen Boyd on hand –note “Fabian”Publishing!

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Hope Lange, Diane Baker, Martha Hyer and Suzy Parker- the ladies of The Best of Everything.

“Hollywood’s New Gable”- Stephen Boyd by Hedda Hopper, November 1959

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Chicago Tribune, November 29, 1959

IRISH STAR Stephen Boyd has made half a dozen American movies yet he seldom draws a role forceful enough to fit his personality He has terrific screen impact and vitality beyond any actor I know but casting him presents a problem to his bosses, who are in much the same predicament as the fellow who grabbed a tiger by the tail.” I don’t think they know what to do with me,” he told me. ” I can’t play a straight foward milk and water juvenile because I’m not one. I can do anything that has any type of a test, providing the physical appearance of the role. is right. But producers are more inclined to come up with ideas for someone like, say Bob Wagner.”

To add to casting problems Boyd, a supreme individualist, refuses to be type cast. He agreed to the part of the drunken editor in ” The Best of Everything ” because it was off beat and got him away from the costume thing he’d done as Messala in ” Ben-Hur.”

“I won t work in a brass hat to the end of my days,” he said when offers for that type thing poured in after word got around he was superb as the Roman charioteer. The part in ” Best” gave him some tender love scenes, some rebellious moments, and the satisfaction of playing a man who had opinions and spoke them forcefully. But he looked a bit vital, with perhaps too much character, for a lush. When I told him I thought of him as the Clark Gable of this era, altho a far more vital type than Gable, he shook his head, puzzled “It’s difficult to associate myself along those lines,” he said. “But I daresay the roles Gable has played are roles I’m suited for. I prefer a two line part with genuine character to an innocuous one such as I had in ‘ Woman Obsessed.’ So many actors get hold of a script and go thru it counting their lines. Or they’ll read only the scenes in which they play. They get only a general idea of their own character and no idea at all of the over-all story. This, in my opinion, is the trouble with so many young actors.

“How do you go about it? ” I asked.

He thought a moment: “Well, after I read a story I ask myself whom do I remember. That is the part that will be remembered on screen. I’d like to try some of the kinds of roles Arthur Kennedy plays-something with guts and vitality. I’ve no particular desire to get my name on top of the credits, altho I realize you have to get your name there to get the money.”

After digesting this unusual point of view, l asked if he d ever had a frank discussion with Buddy Adler, head of his studio, over the sort of parts he thinks he d like to play. He said he had not. In the four years he’s been under contract to Twentieth Century Fox he has talked with but three producers-Jerry Wald, Sydney Boehm, and Walter Wanger. ” Wanger talked with me about the role of Marc Antony in ‘ Cleopatra,”‘ he said. ” I told him I thought I was too young to play Antony, who was 48 when he got together with Cleopatra. I’ve played it on stage, tho.”

Boyd is disarmingly frank, has a keen sense of humor, and, while claiming to be shy, which he says is why he blushes so easily, has of the British Isles reserve.

He has been in Hollywood a year now and I asked him whether he preferred living in the film capital permanently to living in London, New York, or Ireland.

“I’d really prefer New York, or perhaps San Francisco, if I’m going to live in this country ,” he said. ” But I think Los Angeles best for furthering my career and, in view of that, I believe it wise to remain and do film work.”

Of the legitimate theater, he said: “Theater is something I need like I need clothes to wear on the street-it s like food and drink to me” I inquired if he d ever worked in the theater with Laurence Olivier. He said: “No, I’ve only said hello to him. Michal Redgrave has been my great friend. He helped me get a start but I’ve only worked with him once.”

“Ben-Hur” will take him around America and Canada so he’ll miss the Hollywood premiere, but he told me that he d like to attend the London opening.

Wyler had Stephen use dark contact lenses for the part of Messala and they gave him trouble thruout the entire film. He had to have anesthetic drops in his eyes to wear them, and could only endure them for two hours a day. In the death scene the lenses didn’t glaze properly and the doctor had to use a creamy substance under them. Boyd describes much of this as sheer torture.

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Boyd romances Hope Lange in “The Best of Everything.”

Money means nothing to this man, except for the fun of spending it. He says his business manager allows him $25 a week spending money and restricts his credit charges.

When he was abroad for ” Ben-Hur” he bought his parents a house in Ireland. ” It has three bedrooms, a double garage, two and a half baths, central heating, and half an acre of ground in lawns and flower gardens. It cost 2,000 pounds-far less than it would have in England. I also got them a small English car, and one for my brother. But my parents haven’t used the car yet-not once. They go for walks”

I said: “Haven’t you had any romances in Hollywood?” “Not romances,” he said, “just a couple of flirtations.”

I told him I was once warned never to fall in love with an Irishman because, even when he has his arms around you, he’s thinking of someone else.

He laughed: ” I wouldn’t say that. He means it when he has his arms around you. As Shaw said, ‘The truth of the Irishman is when he’s with you-watch him when he leaves.'”

Stephen Boyd and Hope Lange

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Rumors ran wild during the filming of “The Best of Everything” in early 1959 as Hope was on the verge of a break-up with her husband Don Murray, and Stephen had just officially divorced Mariella di Sarzana. Tabloids would hint that Boyd was the cause of the break-up, which Boyd would vehemently deny.

A doll named Hope Lane is something else again. Before Steve left for Europe, they were dating and she sent money here for a pal to buy him ‘the biggest bottle of champagne in all of France’ on his recent birthday. “But how can it be a big thing?” Boyd asks when you ask him about it. “She’s married.” But separated, you know, from Don Murray, whose romantic interests are elsewhere these days. So if you dare to mention, which I did, Hollywood’s flair for mate-changing, Boyd will smile: “Hope Lange isn’t Hollywood”  (Ocala Star Banner, Aug 1, 1960)

From Screenland Magazine, 1960

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From Modern Screen in 1960 concerning Hope, “In spite of her denials, Hope had been infatuated with Stephen Boyd. He’s a tremendously vital man with an exciting animal magnetism most women find hard to resist. I doubt if she ever thought of divorcing Don then, but Stephen made her terribly aware of the excitement lacking in her marriage…”

From a VANITY FAIR Article in 2004 concerning the making of Best of Everything, Hope Lange talked about her relationship with Stephen Boyd

As for romance on the set, if the bungalow was busy, it wasn’t with any of the stars. Hope Lange and Stephen Boyd lunched daily together in the commissary, and because of these lunches several columnists began to imply that the two were in love. Lange, then married to actor Don Murray, “became so upset over these rumors,” wrote Photoplay, “that she nearly suffered a nervous breakdown.” But of Boyd, who died in 1977, Lange had only fond memories (and she still wondered what aftershave lotion he wore): “During the film we had a great camaraderie. He had that wonderful Irish charm, and wonderful humor. And anyone who has humor I’m a sucker for.” (http://www.joancrawfordbest.com/magvanityfair304.htm)

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Even two years later in 1961, when Lange had been linked to actor Glenn Ford, Stephen Boyd took her to the premiere of “The Children’s Hour ” and they danced the night away.

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