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Rock Hudson ACTOR


With his immaculate good looks, urbane charm, and stunning personality, Rock Hudson was the classic Hollywood icon. As one of the most popular movie stars of his time, he captured the hearts of all his viewers for over four decades. In his romantic comedies, often with Doris Day, he really showcased his sweet masculinity and alluring character. Although his acting skills were typically downplayed, he managed to still emerge with brilliance in a number of serious features. Off the screen, too, his true persona was played down. While well liked in Hollywood and seemingly joyful and prosperous in his home life, he gave up much happiness to provide a façade – including his studio’s arranging of a marriage for him. Keeping up with his manufactured ladies man routine, he was not able to express his true identity: that he was a homosexual. Unfortunately, his secret would come out when he contracted the HIV virus and died of AIDS in 1985. As one of the first Hollywood figures to die of the disease, his death would open the public’s eye to it. Hudson’s passing would also, however, inspire his good friend and one time co-star Elizabeth Taylor to make sure he did not die in vain. She went on to devote decades of her life to informing and educating millions about the disease that took her friend in his best years.

Hudson was born Roy Harold Scherer Jr. on November 17, 1925 in Winnetka, Illinois. When he was only eight, his father abandoned his family due to Great Depression stress. A few years later, his mother remarried and he took on his stepfather’s last name of Fitzgerald. In his teens he attended New Trier High School. During school he tried out for plays, but was never cast because of his inability to remember lines. Still, he tried to stay close to his dreams of becoming an actor and got a job as an usher at a local theater. After graduation, Hudson had a brief stint at the United States Postal Service before joining the Navy during World War II to service airplanes. Once the war ended he moved to California to try to become an actor. He applied to the University of California’s drama program, but was rejected and instead worked as a truck driver. Still, he continued to pursue his dream by taking acting, singing, horseback riding, and fencing lessons, sending numerous pictures to various movie studios, and even changing his name to a shorter, more masculine Rock Hudson.

Hudson was finally picked up by talent scout Henry Willson in 1948 and signed to Universal Pictures. He was lent out for his first film and debuted in Warner Brothers’ “Fighter Squadron” (1948) starring Edmond O'Brien, Robert Stack, John Rodney, Henry Hull, Walter Reed, Jack Larsen and James Holden. However, it took the cinematographer at least thirty eight takes to finally capture his one and only line in the picture. Nevertheless, as a newly contracted player for a major Hollywood studio, the actor was secured more roles. With his part in “Winchester '73” (1950) starring alongside James Stewart, Stephen McNally, Millard Mitchell, Dan Duryea, Shelley Winters, Will Geer, Tony Curtis, James Best, Charles Drake, Steve Brodie, Jay C. Flippen and John McIntire, the studio began giving him better assignments, but also worked harder on building up his physical attributes as opposed to his acting abilities. They pushed publishers to feature him in multiple magazine covers, trying their hardest to get him up to leading man status.

Hudson quickly became an idol among teenage fans, working his way up to finally appearing in A list features such as “Magnificent Obsession” (1954) co-starring Barbara Rush, Agnes Moorehead and Otto Kruger, in which he played opposite Jane Wyman as a bad boy. That same year, he was cited as the most popular of the actor of the year by Modern Screen Magazine. However, as his fame began to rise, so did the pressure to hide his homosexuality. In 1955, Henry Willson arranged a marriage between Hudson and his secretary, Phyllis Gates. The actor tried to make it work, but they ended up divorcing in 1958. Meanwhile, his heterosexuality of no question, he landed his largest role yet – the lead in “Giant” (1956). Hudson, starring alongside Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, Carroll Baker, Jane Withers, Chill Wills, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, Rod Taylor, Elsa Cardenas and Earl Holliman, earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

The star finished off the year with a number more successes, including “Battle Hymn” (1957) starring with Anna Kashfi, Dan Duryea, Don DeFore, Martha Hyer, Jock Mahoney and Alan Hale Jr. and “Something of Value” (1957) with Dana Wynter, Sidney Poitier and Wendy Hiller. One such exception was “A Farewell to Arms” (1957) co-starring Jennifer Jones, Elaine Strich, Mercedes McCambridge and Vittorio De Sica, an adaptation of Ernest Hemmingway’s novel. It turned out to be one of the biggest flops of his career. He picked himself back up, and then some, two years later with the light romantic comedy “Pillow Talk” (1959) also starring Doris Day, Tony Randall, Thelma Ritter and Nick Adams. Hudson starred opposite Doris Day, and their chemistry was so loved by audiences that they reunited for two more pictures: “Lover Come Back” (1961) also with Tony Randall, Edie Adams, Ann B. Davis, Donna Douglas, Jack Albertson, John Litel, Joe Flynn and Jack Oakie and “Send Me No Flowers” (1964) and again Tony Randall with Clint Walker, Hal March and Paul Lynde. The actor continued through the sixties with more romantic comedies like “Come September” (1961) with Gina Lollobrigida, Sandra Dee, Bobby Darin and Walter Slezak, “Man’s Favorite Sport?” (1964) with Paula Prentiss, Charlene Holt and Roscoe Karns, “The Strange Bedfellows” (1965) co-starring Gina Lollobrigida, Gig Young and Terry Thomas and “Blindfold” (1965) also starring Claudia Cardinale, Jack Warden, Guy Stockwell, Alejandro Rey and Brad Dexter. In the middle of the decade, however, Hudson’s star began to slightly diminish. From 1957 until 1964 he had made “Top 10 Stars of the Year” eight times, but 1965 saw no spot in the list. Still, he managed to give a first rate performance as a middle aged man put into a younger body in the science-fiction thriller turned cult classic “Seconds” (1966) with Salome Jens, John Randolph, Karl Swenson, Jeff Corey, Will Geer, Murray Hamilton and Richard Anderson.

As he was reaching middle-age, parts were harder to get, and his appearances became farther apart. 1967 only saw the action flick “Tobruk” with George Peppard, Nigel Bruce, Jack Warden, Guy Stockwell and Leo Gordon, and 1968 the spy thrillerIce Station Zebra” also starring Patrick McGoohan, Ernest Borgnine, Jim Brown, Lloyd Nolan, Ron Masak and Gerald S. O'Loughlin and adventure “A Fine Pair” with Claudia Cardinale, Leon Askin and Ellen Corby. In his final film of the decade, “The Undefeated” (1959) co-starring Merlin Olsen, Jan-Michael Vincent, Lee Meriwether, Bruce Cabot, Ramon Gabriel, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr., Paul Fix, Royal Dano, John Agar, Dub Taylor and Melissa Newman, his career looked upward, as he also starred opposite western legend John Wayne.

With the new decade came a new medium for Hudson: television. What started off as a ninety minute made-for-TV movie called “Once Upon a Dead Man” (1971) with Jack Albertson and Rene Auberjonois, would turn into a highly successful show called “McMillan and Wife” (1971-77). It was based off the comic adventures of the thrill seeking husband-wife sleuth team Nick and Nora Charles. From 1971 until 1977 he had a weekly slot on TV opposite Susan St. James in the popular crime drama series. While he was preoccupied with his show during the seventies, Hudson still continued to find a place on the big screen. He acted in a total of six movies, not limited to the war drama “Darling Lili” (1970) with Julie Andrews and Jeremy Kemp, western “Showdown” (1973) with Dean Martin and Susan Clark, and action filled “Avalanche” (1978) co-starring Robert Forster, Mia Farrow and Jeanette Nolan.

Into the eighties, the actor’s involvement in the film industry greatly diminished. His lifetime smoking and drinking habits were catching up with him and he could no longer play leading man roles. In 1981 he suffered from a heart attack while filming for his latest television drama, “The Devlin Connection” (1982). He had triple bypass surgery, and the show was forced to go on a one year hiatus. The break proved detrimental, and the series ended after only one season.

Even though Hudson went through his surgery, he continued to smoke and his health continued to deteriorate. Rumors began going around that he was also suffering from liver cancer or another ailment of the sort, as he was becoming scrawnier and scrawnier. He appeared in his final picture in 1984, “The Ambassador” starring with Robert Mitchum, Ellen Burstyn, Fabio Testi and Donald Pleasence, before discovering he had contracted the AIDS virus. He starred in his last television film, “The Vegas Strip War” (1984) co-starring Sharon Stone, James Earl Jones and Pat Morita, and then tried to make a major role for himself in the TV drama “The Dynasty” (1984-85) and he did for 14 episodes with the three main characters played by John Forsythe, Linda Evans and Joan Collins. Producers noticed Hudson’s gauntness and worried, but hoped he would come out of his slump. Unfortunately, the actor only got worse, eventually losing his ability to speak correctly. His character, Daniel Reece, was written out of the show, giving Hudson the kick to come out about his deadly disease.

In July of 1985, he joined his friend and former co-star Doris Day on her new cable TV series, “Doris Day’s Best Friends”. His appearance and barely distinguishable speech were so shocking that the episode was rebroadcast all over national news. Shortly after his guest appearance, on July 25, he made a press release that he was dying from AIDS. He speculated that he must have been infected with HIV positive blood during a blood transfusion he was given during his heart surgery. His family and friends stood by him while he waited on his deathbed, proud of him for his monumental courage for becoming the first figure of his stature to ever go public with the details of his AIDS battle. On October 2, 1985 in Beverly Hills, California, he died with dignity.

The disclosure of Hudson’s HIV status sparked questions throughout the public on his sexual orientation. People who had worked with him knew his secret, but not until his boyfriend, Marc Christian, sued the actor’s estate on grounds that he continued to have sex with him even after he had been diagnosed, did the public becoming fully certain that he was gay. Even more important than knowing Hudson’ true identity, though, people began wanting to learn about the disease that ended his life.

Activists used the celebrity to transform the public’s view on AIDS, and in turn, many AIDS organizations received a large number of contributions. As well, people began to gain awareness on the disease, educate themselves, and remove much of the inaccurate stigma associated with it. Without Hudson, Hollywood may never have embraced AIDS with the care and consideration it does now. One person who really helped the cause after Hudson’s passing was his friend Elizabeth Taylor, which he even rightly stated was “indestructible”. She honored him for years by becoming a prominent activist in the fight for AIDS research and awareness. She also paid tribute to him by buying him a bronze plaque for the West Hollywood Memorial Walk.

While his legacy of making the public compassionate and aware of AIDS is one to be remembered, so is his monumental movie career. Throughout his career, he managed to win over twenty awards, including four Golden Globes and a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As well, he has been chosen as one of Empire Magazine’s 100 Sexiest Stars in film history. His secret to success? “I have no philosophy about acting or anything else. You just do it. And I mean that. You just do it.”


1984 Dynasty

1984 The Vegas Strip War

1984 The Ambassador

1982 The Devlin Connection

1982 World War III

1982 The Devlin Connection III

1981 The Star Maker

1980 The Mirror Crack'd

1980 The Martian Chronicles

1980 Superstunt II

1978 Avalanche

1978 Wheels

1976 Embryo

1973 Showdown

1971 McMillan & Wife

1971 Pretty Maids All in a Row

1970 Hornets' Nest

1970 Darling Lili

1969 The Undefeated

1968 Ice Station Zebra

1968 A Fine Pair

1967 Tobruk

1966 Seconds

1965 Blindfold

1965 A Very Special Favor

1965 Strange Bedfellows

1964 Send Me No Flowers

1964 Man's Favorite Sport?

1963 A Gathering of Eagles

1962 The Spiral Road

1961 Lover Come Back

1961 Come September

1961 The Last Sunset

1959 Pillow Talk

1959 This Earth Is Mine

1958 Twilight for the Gods

1957 A Farewell to Arms

1957 The Tarnished Angels

1957 Something of Value

1957 Battle Hymn

1956 Written on the Wind

1956 Giant

1956 Never Say Goodbye

1955 All That Heaven Allows

1955 One Desire

1955 Captain Lightfoot

1954 Bengal Brigade

1954 Magnificent Obsession

1954 Taza, Son of Cochise

1953 Beneath the 12-Mile Reef

1953 Back to God's Country

1953 Gun Fury

1953 The Golden Blade

1953 Sea Devils

1953 Seminole

1953 The Lawless Breed

1952 Horizons West

1952 Has Anybody Seen My Gal

1952 Scarlet Angel

1952 Here Come the Nelsons

1952 Bend of the River

1951 Iron Man

1951 Bright Victory

1951 The Fat Man

1951 Air Cadet

1951 Tomahawk

1950 Shakedown

1950 The Desert Hawk

1950 Winchester '73

1950 Peggy

1950 I Was a Shoplifter

1950 One Way Street

1949 Undertow

1948 Fighter Squadron

Matinee Classics - The Undefeated starring John Wayne, Rock Hudson, Roman Gabriel, Antonio Aguilar, Lee Meriwether, Melissa Newman, Marian McCargo, Merlin Olsen, Bruce Cabot, Jan-Michael Vincent, Ben Johnson, Edward Faulkner, Harry Carey Jr., Paul Fix, Royal Dano, Richard Mulligan, John Agar and Dub Taylor
Matinee Classics - A Farewell to Arms starring Rock Hudson, Jennifer Jones, Vittorio De Sica, Oskar Homolka, Mercedes McCambridge, Elaine Stritch and Kurt Kasznar
Matinee Classics - Rock Hudson
Matinee Classics - A Very Special Favor starring Rock Hudson, Leslie Caron, Charles Boyer, Walter Slezak, Dick Shawn, Larry Storch, Nita Talbot, Norma Varden and George Furth
Matinee Classics - Air Cadet starring Stephen McNally, Gail Russell, Alex Nicol, Richard Long, Charles Drake, Robert Arthur and Rock Hudson
Matinee Classics - Avalanche starring Rock Hudson, Robert Forster, Mia Farrow, Jeanette Nolan, Rick Moses, Steve Franken, Barry Primus, Cathy Paine and Jerry Douglas
Matinee Classics - Written on the Wind starring Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, Robert Keith, Grant Williams and Edward Platt
Matinee Classics - Magnificent Obsession starring Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson, Barbara Rush, Agnes Moorehead, Otto Kruger, Gregg Palmer, Sara Shane, Paul Cavanagh, Judy Nugent, Richard H. Cutting, Robert Williams, Will J. White, Helen Kleeb, Rudolph Anders and Fred Nurney
Matinee Classics - Man's Favorite Sport? starring Rock Hudson, Paula Prentiss, Maria Perschy, John McGiver, Charlene Holt, Roscoe Karns, James Westerfield, Norman Alden, Forrest Lewis, Regis Toomey, Tyler McVey and Kathie Browne
Matinee Classics - Man's Favorite Sport? starring Rock Hudson, Paula Prentiss, Maria Perschy, John McGiver, Charlene Holt, Roscoe Karns, James Westerfield, Norman Alden, Forrest Lewis, Regis Toomey, Tyler McVey and Kathie Browne

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