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Stephen Boyd (1931 - 1977)

A photo of Stephen Boyd
Stephen Boyd
1931 - 1977
Born
July 4, 1931
Ireland
Death
June 2, 1977
California United States
Summary
Stephen Boyd was born on July 4, 1931 in Ireland. He died on June 2, 1977 in California at 45 years old.
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Updated: April 13, 2021
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Introduction
Famous award-winning actor. Stephen Boyd Born July 4, 1931 in Glengormley, Northern Ireland, UK Died June 2, 1977 in Northridge, California, USA (heart attack) Birth Name William Millar Nickname Dimples Height 6' (1.83 m) Mini Bio (1) Stephen Boyd was born William Millar on July 4, 1931, at Glengormley, Northern Ireland, one of nine children of Martha Boyd and Canadian truck driver James Alexander Millar, who worked for Fleming's on Tomb Street in Belfast. He attended Glengormley & Ballyrobert primary school and then moved on to Ballyclare High School and studied bookkeeping at Hughes Commercial Academy. In Ireland he worked in an insurance office and travel agency during the day and rehearsed with a semi-professional acting company at night during the week and weekends. He would eventually manage to be on the list for professional acting companies to call him when they had a role. He joined the Ulster Theatre Group and was a leading man with that company for three years, playing all kinds of roles. He did quite a bit of radio work in between as well, but then decided it was distracting him from acting and completely surrendered to his passion. Eventually he went to London as an understudy in an Irish play, "The Passing Day." In England he became very ill and was in and out of work, supplementing his acting assignments with odd jobs such as waiting in a cafeteria, doorman at the Odeon Theatre and even busking on the streets of London. Even as things turned for the worst, he would always write back to his mother that all was well and things were moving along so as not to alarm her in any way or make her worry. Sir Michael Redgrave discovered him one night at the Odeon Theatre and arranged an introduction to the Windsor Repertory Company. The Arts Council of Great Britain was looking for leading man and part-time director for the only major repertory company that was left in England, The Arts Council Midland Theatre Company, and he got the job. During his stay in England he went into television with the BBC, and for 18 months he was in every big play on TV. One of the major roles in his early career was the one in the play "Barnett's Folly," which he himself ranked as one of his favorites. In 1956 he signed a seven-year contract with 20th Century-Fox. This led to his first film role, as an IRA member spying for the Nazis The Man Who Never Was (1956), a job he was offered by legendary producer Alexander Korda. William Wyler was so struck by Boyd's performance in that film that he asked Fox to loan him Boyd, resulting in his being cast in what is probably his most famous role, that of Messala in the classic Ben-Hur (1959) opposite Charlton Heston. He received a Golden Globe award for his work on that film but was surprisingly bypassed on Oscar night. Still under contract with Fox, Boyd waited around to play the role of Marc Anthony in Cleopatra (1963) opposite Elizabeth Taylor. However, Taylor became so seriously ill that the production was delayed for months, which caused Boyd and other actors to withdraw from the film and move on to other projects. Boyd made several films under contract before going independent. One of the highlights was Fantastic Voyage (1966), a science-fiction film about a crew of scientists miniaturized and injected into the human body as if in inner space. He also received a nomination for his role of Insp. Jongman in Lisa (1962) (aka "The Inspector") co-starring with Dolores Hart. Boyd's Hollywood career began to fade by the late 1960s as he started to spend more time in Europe, where he seemed to find better roles more suited to his interests. When he went independent it was obvious that he took on roles that spoke to him rather than just taking on assignments for the money, and several of the projects he undertook were, at the time, quite controversial, such as Slaves (1969) and Carter's Army (1970). Boyd chose his roles based solely on character development and the value of the story that was told to the public, and never based on monetary compensation or peer pressure. Although at the height of his career he was considered one of Hollywood's leading men, he never forgot where he came from, and always reminded everyone that he was, first and foremost, an Irishman. When the money started coming in, one of the first things he did was to ensure that his family was taken care of. He was particularly close to his mother Martha and his brother Alex. Boyd was married twice, the first time in 1958 to Italian-born MCA executive Mariella di Sarzana, but that only lasted (officially) during the filming of "Ben Hur." His second marriage was to Elizabeth Mills, secretary at the British Arts Council and a friend since 1955. Liz Mills followed Boyd to the US in the late 1950s and was his personal assistant and secretary for years before they married, about ten months before his death. He died on June 2, 1977, in Northridge, California, from a massive heart attack while playing golf - one of his favorite pastimes - at the Porter Valley Country Club. He is buried at Oakwood Memorial Park in Chatsworth, California. It was a terrible loss, just as he seemed to be making a comeback with his recent roles in the series Hawaii Five-O (1968) and the English movie The Squeeze (1977). It is a real tragedy to see that a man who was so passionate about his work, who wanted nothing but to tell a story with character, a man who was ahead of his time in many ways ended up being overlooked by many of his peers. One fact remains about Stephen Boyd, however--his fans are still passionate about his work to this day, almost 30 years after his death, and one has to wonder if he ever realized that perhaps in some way he achieved the goal he set out for himself: to entertain the public and draw attention to the true art of acting while maintaining glamour as he defined it by remaining himself a mystery. - IMDb Mini Biography By: Brigitte Ivory Spouse (2) Elizabeth Mills (August 1976 - 2 June 1977) ( his death) Mary Mariella di Sarzana (30 August 1958 - 20 March 1959) ( divorced) Trade Mark (2) Often cast in historical epics Dimple
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Stephen Boyd
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Stephen Boyd was born on in Ireland
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Stephen Boyd died on in California United States
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Irish. Born July 4, 1931 in Glengormley, Northern Ireland, UK Died June 2, 1977 in Northridge, California, USA (heart attack) Birth Name William Millar Nickname Dimples Height 6' (1.83 m) Stephen Boyd was born William Millar on July 4, 1931, at Glengormley, Northern Ireland, one of nine children of Martha Boyd and Canadian truck driver James Alexander Millar, who worked for Fleming's on Tomb Street in Belfast. He attended Glengormley & Ballyrobert primary school and then moved on to Ballyclare High School and studied bookkeeping at Hughes Commercial Academy. In Ireland he worked in an insurance office and travel agency during the day and rehearsed with a semi-professional acting company at night during the week and weekends. He would eventually manage to be on the list for professional acting companies to call him when they had a role. He joined the Ulster Theatre Group and was a leading man with that company for three years, playing all kinds of roles. He did quite a bit of radio work in between as well, but then decided it was distracting him from acting and completely surrendered to his passion. Eventually, he went to London as an understudy in an Irish play, "The Passing Day."
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In England he became very ill and was in and out of work, supplementing his acting assignments with odd jobs such as waiting in a cafeteria, doorman at the Odeon Theatre and even busking on the streets of London. Even as things turned for the worst, he would always write back to his mother that all was well and things were moving along so as not to alarm her in any way or make her worry. Sir Michael Redgrave discovered him one night at the Odeon Theatre and arranged an introduction to the Windsor Repertory Company. The Arts Council of Great Britain was looking for leading man and part-time director for the only major repertory company that was left in England, The Arts Council Midland Theatre Company, and he got the job. During his stay in England he went into television with the BBC, and for 18 months he was in every big play on TV. One of the major roles in his early career was the one in the play "Barnett's Folly," which he himself ranked as one of his favorites. In 1956 he signed a seven-year contract with 20th Century-Fox. This led to his first film role, as an IRA member spying for the Nazis The Man Who Never Was (1956), a job he was offered by legendary producer Alexander Korda. William Wyler was so struck by Boyd's performance in that film that he asked Fox to loan him Boyd, resulting in his being cast in what is probably his most famous role, that of Messala in the classic Ben-Hur (1959) opposite Charlton Heston. He received a Golden Globe award for his work on that film but was surprisingly bypassed on Oscar night. Still under contract with Fox, Boyd waited around to play the role of Marc Anthony in Cleopatra (1963) opposite Elizabeth Taylor. However, Taylor became so seriously ill that the production was delayed for months, which caused Boyd and other actors to withdraw from the film and move on to other projects. Boyd made several films under contract before going independent. One of the highlights was Fantastic Voyage (1966), a science-fiction film about a crew of scientists miniaturized and injected into the human body as if in inner space. He also received a nomination for his role of Insp. Jongman in Lisa (1962) (aka "The Inspector") co-starring with Dolores Hart. Boyd's Hollywood career began to fade by the late 1960s as he started to spend more time in Europe, where he seemed to find better roles more suited to his interests. When he went independent it was obvious that he took on roles that spoke to him rather than just taking on assignments for the money, and several of the projects he undertook were, at the time, quite controversial, such as Slaves (1969) and Carter's Army (1970). Boyd chose his roles based solely on character development and the value of the story that was told to the public and never based on monetary compensation or peer pressure. Although at the height of his career he was considered one of Hollywood's leading men, he never forgot where he came from, and always reminded everyone that he was, first and foremost, an Irishman. When the money started coming in, one of the first things he did was to ensure that his family was taken care of. He was particularly close to his mother Martha and his brother Alex. Boyd was married twice, the first time in 1958 to Italian-born MCA executive Mariella di Sarzana, but that only lasted (officially) during the filming of "Ben Hur." His second marriage was to Elizabeth Mills, secretary at the British Arts Council and a friend since 1955. Liz Mills followed Boyd to the US in the late 1950s and was his personal assistant and secretary for years before they married, about ten months before his death. He died on June 2, 1977, in Northridge, California, from a massive heart attack while playing golf - one of his favorite pastimes - at the Porter Valley Country Club. He is buried at Oakwood Memorial Park in Chatsworth, California. It was a terrible loss, just as he seemed to be making a comeback with his recent roles in the series Hawaii Five-O (1968) and the English movie The Squeeze (1977). It is a real tragedy to see that a man who was so passionate about his work, who wanted nothing but to tell a story with character, a man who was ahead of his time in many ways ended up being overlooked by many of his peers. One fact remains about Stephen Boyd, however--his fans are still passionate about his work to this day, almost 30 years after his death, and one has to wonder if he ever realized that perhaps in some way he achieved the goal he set out for himself: to entertain the public and draw attention to the true art of acting while maintaining glamour as he defined it by remaining himself a mystery. - IMDb Mini Biography By: Brigitte Ivory Spouse (2) Elizabeth Mills (August 1976 - 2 June 1977) ( his death) Mary Mariella di Sarzana (30 August 1958 - 20 March 1959) ( divorced) Trade Mark (2) Often cast in historical epics Dimple

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Actor Stephen Boyd, 49, Dies Actor Stephen Boyd, best known for his role as Messala, Charlton Heston's chariot-racing opponent in "Ben Hur," collapsed while playing golf and died of heart failure Thursday. He was 49. Mr. Boyd's press agent said the actor was golfing with his wife, Elizabeth, when he collapsed. Mr. Boyd was rushed to a hospital and died about two hours later. Born William Miller near Belfast, Ireland, Mr. Boyd played in dozens of films as a Hollywood contract actor and co-starred with some of the most famous actresses in the movie industry. But he never quite attained star status. Mr. Boyd, a ruggedly handsome 6-footer with a superb physique, began his theatrical career in radio programs in Belfast at age 16. He went to London where he worked as a doorman for a theater and as a cafeteria attendant. Shortly afterward, he was chosen to help actors on stage during the British film academy awards. He was noticed by actor Michael Redgrave, who was presenting the awards. Redgrave gave him a letter of introduction to the head of a repertory company. Mr. Boyd won an audition and was hired immediately. He worked in British theater for two years and then began working in television. He was signed by London Films, which gave him a number of small parts and then lent him to 20th Century Fox. He received his first prominent role in "The Man Who never Was" and was given a long-term contract. "I don't know what goes into being a star," he told an interviewer at one time. "Perhaps it is the capacity to explain the character and story to any audience, in any language, in any country." He appeared in about 50 films, including "Island in the Sun," "The Best of Everything," "The Oscars," "Fantastic Voyage," "Fall of the Roman Empire," "Jumbo," "Imperial Venus," "The Inspector" and "Genghis Khan." He played opposite actresses like Brigitte Bardot, Susan Hayworth, Joan Crawford, Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner, and Raquel Welch. Mr. Boyd was never nominated for an Oscar but won the Golden Globe award of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for his role in "Ben Hur," filmed in 1959. His career peaked in that film, and the chariot race sequence, considered a film classic, was entered in the Motion Picture Academy's archives in Hollywood. After a role in "The Oscars" in 1966, Mr. Boyd decided to work with independent producers and began a new career in foreign-produced films. He recently returned from Hawaii where he played a guest role in the television series "Hawaii Five-O." Mr. Boyd's agent said the actor had no history of heart trouble. "he liked to find as many different golf courses as he could play on. Anywhere he went to film, he would seek out a new golf course," the agent said. Mr. Boyd is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, who was his second wife.Stephen Boyd died on June 2, 1977 in California at 45 years of age. He was born on July 4, 1931 in Ireland.
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1931 - 1977 World Events

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In 1931, in the year that Stephen Boyd was born, in March, “The Star Spangled Banner” officially became the national anthem by congressional resolution. Other songs had previously been used - among them, "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", "God Bless America", and "America the Beautiful". There was fierce debate about making "The Star Spangled Banner" the national anthem - Southerners and veterans organizations supported it, pacifists and educators opposed it.

In 1948, at the age of 17 years old, Stephen was alive when on January 30th, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in New Delhi by a member of a Hindu nationalist party who thought that Gandhi was too accommodating to Muslims. The man, Nathuram Godse, shot Gandhi 3 times. He died immediately. The shooter was tried, convicted, and hung in November 1949.

In 1956, at the age of 25 years old, Stephen was alive when on May 20th, the U.S. tested the first hydrogen bomb dropped from a plane over Bikini Atoll. Previously, hydrogen bombs had only been tested on the ground. The Atomic Age moved forward.

In 1968, at the age of 37 years old, Stephen was alive when on January 31st, the North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive, a turning point in the Vietnam War. 70,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces swarmed into South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese and US troops held off the offensive but it was such fierce fighting that the U.S. public began to turn against the war.

In 1977, in the year of Stephen Boyd's passing, on January 20th, Jimmy Carter became the 39th President of the United States. Running against incumbent Gerald Ford, he won 50.1% of the popular vote to Ford's 48.0%. He was elected to only one term.

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