Irish-born Stephen Boyd was performing on stage since his preteen years. Migrating to Canada in the 1940s, Boyd acted in stock and on radio on both sides of the U.S./Canada border. After several lean years, Boyd got his movie break in the 1955 British comedy An Alligator Named Daisy. His powerful portrayal of the treacherous Messala in 1959's Ben-Hur proved to be Boyd's career peak. Few of his subsequent movie assignments came within shouting distance of Messala. Cast as Marc Antony in 1963's Cleopatra, Boyd was forced by prior commitments to defer the role to Richard Burton; and though top-billed in 1966's Fantastic Voyage, Boyd was compelled to play second fiddle to the film's remarkable special effects. In 1977, Stephen Boyd suffered a fatal heart attack while playing golf.