May 14, 1984 12:00 PM

It was back in 1973, when he was stone broke, that Steve Bond shucked his pride and his trousers to pose for a full-frontal Playgirl centerfold. At the time he was just another slice of beefcake, and after collecting his $2,000 he hoped the episode would be forgotten. But 10 years later the magazine republished an assortment of past photos, and several sharp-eyed fans recognized among the models their General Hospital heartthrob—including aspects of him they’d never seen. Once the editors caught on, they issued a five-page spread on the handsome actor. “There wasn’t much I could do about it,” says Steve, 31. “A big legal battle would have made it worse for me. When I saw the pictures again, I was devastated. It is my deepest, darkest secret, and now it’s out.”

The General Hospital honchos weren’t pleased either. “His role was cut drastically for several weeks,” says one insider. “Steve apologized, but I think it was his popularity that saved him.” In the vacuum created by Tony Geary’s departure four months ago, Steve, playing the ingratiating construction company owner Jimmy Lee Holt, ranks just behind Tristan Rogers as a star of the top-rated soap. “He has a great physical attraction and good charisma,” says General Hospital producer Gloria Monty. “As an actor he is improving day by day.”

Bond’s career has been building since November 1982, which happens to be the month he was married to pro golfer and model Cindy Cox, now 24. The marriage has fared less well than the job. Trouble began during a two-week Hawaiian honeymoon. Three days before departing, Steve had tested for General Hospital. Bond’s agent phoned right after the newlyweds had arrived in Hawaii: “They want you to come back and test again.” Over dinner that night the couple discussed it; the next morning Steve was on a flight back to the mainland. “We had already booked a cruise,” he says. “Cindy spent the next three days of our honeymoon alone on a yacht.” Steve returned to meet his bride on the island of Kauai, just in time for the first major hurricane to hit Hawaii in 25 years. They called quits to the holiday and returned to Los Angeles. A week later Steve learned the part was his.

A year afterward the couple separated. “We are still seeing each other, but so many things have come into our lives so fast that we are having to learn stuff about one another,” he says. “We had to deal with the fact that she wasn’t going to act and I wasn’t going to play golf. I found out she felt very inhibited because she was getting very interested in acting. Now I am encouraging her because I respect women who have their own lives and careers.” Steve has moved into a $725-a-month bachelor pad in Marina Del Rey. Cindy lives nearby in Santa Monica. “The separation has been very successful,” he says. “We are falling in love with each other again, which is exciting.”

A native of Israel who was born Shlomo Goldberg, Steve moved to Los Angeles with his mother, Eva, in 1966, after his parents split. (His older brother, Andy, stayed in Haifa with their father, Mica, a ship steward.) He stumbled into acting when he asked his neighbors why they were always quarreling. They explained that they weren’t fighting but rehearsing—they were actors. When young Shlomo said that he too was an actor, they were charmed enough to introduce him to their agent. “I had such a thick Hebrew accent in those days that I couldn’t play American parts,” Steve recalls. But along with a new name the agent found him a role—as “Boy” in Tarzan and the Jungle Boy, filmed in Brazil in 1969.

Until recently that was the high point of Bond’s career. After playing Kirk Douglas as a boy in Elia Kazan’s The Arrangement, he worked in a slew of youth-exploitation films. Then he took a two-year lost weekend in Europe. “I ended up staying at the Hotel Tunis in the red-light district of Paris.” When he returned to L.A. he worked at odd jobs, including a rodeo gig that ended when a bull stomped on his back, leaving him hunched over for three months. By day he worked out in the gym, by night he drank and did drugs. “All night long I’d be tearing my body down and all day long I’d be putting myself back together,” he says. “Finally I said to myself, ‘Man, either you gotta go full out and be a druggie, or you’re gonna straighten up.’ ”

These days Steve drinks nothing but a rare celebratory glass of champagne. “When I would drink, my fuse would get shorter,” he says. “I wasn’t aware that people were scared of me.” Sober now and with a stable job, Bond says his greatest fear is that he’ll get complacent. “When you achieve a certain goal, there’s a tendency to change and become a fat cat,” he says. “The one thing I want to do in life is stay on the beam.”

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