Stephen Boyd (4 July 1931 – 2 June 1977) was an actor. He was born in Northern Ireland. He appeared in stage productions in the U.S. and Canada before breaking into English movies in 1955. Four years later, he played "Messala" in Ben-Hur (1959) opposite Charlton Heston. Gore Vidal, who did uncredited work on the screenplay, wanted to give "Messala" a homosexual slant. He convinced director William Wyler and Boyd that the bitter hatred between the two characters was the result of a gay relationship gone wrong. Heston was furious about this gay angle when he found out about it years later. Boyd won a Golden Globe for his performance in Ben-Hur.
4 July 1931
Glengormley, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
|Died||2 June 1977 (aged 45)|
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Resting place||Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Mariella di Sarzana (divorced)|
Elizabeth Mills (1977-his death)
|Parent(s)||James Alexander Millar (father)|
Martha Boyd (mother)
Boyd was the first to be considered for the role of Marc Antony in Cleopatra (1963) opposite Elizabeth Taylor. Production was delayed for months when Taylor fell ill. Boyd dropped out of the production to honor other commitments. He appeared in The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) with Sophia Loren and Christopher Plummer. The role of Antony went to Richard Burton.
Boyd appeared in other spectacles like Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962), Genghis Khan (1965), and The Bible (1966). He starred in the sci-fi adventure Fantastic Voyage (1966). His co-star in Voyage, Raquel Welch, made sexual advances to him. He declined with, "An actress is a little bit more than a woman, but an actor is a little bit less than a man." She concluded from this remark (and later reported) that Boyd was gay. Boyd always had difficulty picking good scripts. His last movies were cheesy exploitation flicks made in Europe. He was married twice for very brief periods of time. He never came out as gay. He died of a heart attack while playing golf in California.