Northern Ireland

Actor Stephen Boyd commemorated with blue plaque

Stephen Boyd in Ben Hur Image copyright Shutterstock
Image caption Stephen Boyd was born in Northern Ireland and became a Hollywood legend

Actor Stephen Boyd, who became a Hollywood film idol, has been commemorated with a blue plaque close to his Newtownabbey birthplace.

Boyd is famous for the chariot scene in 1950s blockbuster, Ben-Hur, when he raced alongside Charlton Heston.

But he was originally Billy Millar from Glengormley, the youngest of nine children, born on 4 July 1931.

It was a chance encounter with Sir Michael Redgrave at a London cinema that paved the way to success.

Image caption Stephen Boyd was born in Northern Ireland and became a Hollywood legend

Before that, the aspiring actor had spent nights on a park bench and even busked outside the cinema to make money.

Sir Michael helped him along the road to success. He had his big break with the Hollywood epic, Ben Hur.

He won a Golden Globe for best supporting actor for his role and carried the scars from that chariot race for the rest of his life.

Image caption The blue plaque was unveiled on Wednesday afternoon

During his career, he played opposite famous leading ladies including Sophia Loren, Doris Day and Brigitte Bardot.

Despite the glamour, he never forgot his roots and returned to his parent's house as often as he could. He bought a bungalow for his parents in Bangor and named it Messala - his character in Ben-Hur.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Stephen Boyd's Hollywood success has been celebrated by the Ulster History Circle

He died of a heart attack in 1977, aged 46.

The plaque was unveiled at noon on Wednesday, at Moygara, 292 Shore Road, Whitehouse.

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