Stephen Boyd

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Stephen Boyd
Stephen Boyd in Ben Hur trailer.jpg
from the trailer for the film Ben-Hur (1959).
Born William Millar
(1931-07-04)4 July 1931
Glengormley, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Died 2 June 1977(1977-06-02) (aged 45)
Northridge, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Heart Attack
Resting place
Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery
Occupation Actor
Years active 1955–1971
Spouse(s) Mariella di Sarzana (1958-3 weeks later) (divorced)
Elizabeth Mills (1977-his death 10 months later)
Parents James Alexander Millar (father)
Martha Boyd (mother)

Stephen Boyd (4 July 1931 – 2 June 1977) was an actor from Glengormley, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.1 He appeared in some 60 films, most notably as "Messala" in Ben-Hur.


Boyd was born William Millar in 1931.2 One of nine siblings, he attended Ballyclare High School. He starred in a radio play in Belfast and worked at a cinema in London. His said to have busked outside the cinema to get money.1 He began acting in British films, notably as an edgy Irish spy working for the Germans, in the World War II film The Man Who Never Was (1956). It was his role in a 1957 French film, The Night Heaven Fell opposite Brigitte Bardot which gained him critical and public attention.

He went to Hollywood and appeared as leads in a variety of films, including The Bravados (1958) and The Best of Everything (1959). His role as Messala in Ben-Hur (1959) propelled him to international fame.1 He later played another Roman leader in Samuel Bronston's The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), in which he co-starred with Sophia Loren. He received a Golden Globe for his performance in Ben-Hur.3 In 1962 Boyd appeared in the film The Inspector opposite starlet Dolores Hart. The two remained friends until Boyd's death.

Boyd was originally chosen to play Mark Antony opposite Elizabeth Taylor in 20th Century-Fox's epic production of Cleopatra (1963) under the direction of Rouben Mamoulian, but eventually withdrew from the problem-plagued production when he committed to star in The Fall of the Roman Empire. (Cleopatra was later directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and the role of Mark Antony went to Richard Burton.)

Boyd appeared in The Bible: In the Beginning (1966), Genghis Khan (1965), Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962), The Oscar (1966), Fantastic Voyage (1966), Shalako (1968), and Assignment K (1969).4

In his book "Stephen Boyd: From Belfast To Hollywood,"5 writer Joe Cushnan quotes from a letter from film producer Euan Lloyd (Shalako, The Man Called Noon, The Wild Geese): "Stephen Boyd was one of the nicest, kindest people I have met in my lifetime, rare in this profession."


Boyd died of a heart attack at the age of 45 while playing golf at the Porter Valley Country Club in Northridge, California. He was in talks to play the role of the Regimental Sergeant Major in Euan Lloyd's The Wild Geese before his death.6 Boyd was interred in Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Chatsworth, California.7

Personal life

Boyd was married twice: for three weeks in 1958 to Italian-born MCA executive Mariella di Sarzana, and subsequently to Elizabeth Mills, a secretary at the British Arts Council, whom he had known since 1955. Mills followed Boyd to the USA in the late fifties and was his personal assistant and secretary for many years before marrying him about 10 months before his death.38


According to George Malko, Boyd was involved with Scientology and had attained the state of Grade IV Release, and "... wrote an enthusiastic letter to Scientology describing how he had used his newfound abilities to survive the rigors of location shooting in Louisiana." However, this has been attributed to hearsay; there is no physical proof. 9

Partial filmography


External links

Creative Commons License