Rock Hudson

Biography

Date of Birth: 17 November 1925, Winnetka, Illinois, USA Date of Death: 2 October 1985, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA (AIDS) Birth Name: Roy Harold Scherer Jr. Height: 6' 5" (1.96 m) Mini Biography He was the son of an auto mechanic and a telephone operator who divorced when he was eight years old. He failed to obtain parts in school plays because he couldn't remember lines. After high school he was a postal employee and during WW II served as a Navy airplane mechanic. After the war he was a truck driver. His size and good looks got him into movies. His name was changed to Rock Hudson, his teeth were capped, he took lessons in acting, singing, fencing and riding. One line in his first picture, Fighter Squadron (1948), needed 38 takes. In 1956 he received an Oscar nomination for Giant (1956) and two years later Look magazine named him Star of the Year. He starred in a number of bedroom comedies, many with Doris Day, and had his own popular TV series "McMillan & Wife" (1971). He had a recurring role in TV's "Dynasty" (1981) (1984-5). He was the first major public figure to announce he had AIDS, and his worldwide search for a cure drew international attention. After his death his long-time lover Marc Christian successfully sued his estate, again calling attention to the homosexuality Rock had hidden from most throughout his career. IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan < stephan@cc.wwu.edu> Spouse: Phyllis Gates (9 November 1955 - 13 August 1958) (divorced) Trade Mark: Deep, sensous voice Thick black hair Moved from westerns to sob stories to sosphisticated comedies Trivia: The Prudential Life Insurance Co. stopped using its slogan "Own A Piece Of The Rock" after Hudson died of AIDS and many jokes were made about him and the slogan. Ashes scattered at sea. Went to same school, New Trier Township High School East, (Winnetka, Illinois) as Ann-Margret, Charlton Heston, Ralph Bellamy, Hugh O'Brien, Bruce Dern, Penelope Milford, Virginia Madsen and Liz Phair. Worked as a truck driver when he first moved to Los Angeles, but he spent his spare time idling outside of studio gates and sending photographs of himself to various producers. Talent scout 'Henry Willson (II)' coined the stage name "Rock Hudson" by combining the Rock of Gibraltar and the Hudson River. Although he tried out for roles in school plays, Hudson failed to win any because he could not remember lines. Enamored of movies as a teenager, he worked as an usher. Before taking his first film role, he got his teeth capped and was coached intensively in acting, singing, dancing, fencing and riding. Still, it took no less than 38 takes before he could successfully complete one line in his first picture, Fighter Squadron (1948). Production on the television series "The Devlin Connection" (1982) was suspended for a year while he was recovering from quintuple heart bypass surgery. By the time he had taken the guest role of Daniel Reece, a suave and stately horse breeder on "Dynasty" (1981) late in 1984, the AIDS virus was consuming him. Before long, he was suffering from memory loss and was forced to use cue cards to read his lines. He also had difficulty speaking. The media first began to suspect he had serious health problems when he came to Carmel, California, in July 1985 to help his Pillow Talk (1959) co-star Doris Day launch her cable series, "Doris Day's Best Friends" (1985). His gaunt appearance and obvious disorientation suddenly became the focus of what was meant to be a joyous reunion of one of Hollywood's favorite on-screen couples. He died just three months later. Involved with Marc Christian during the period he knew he had AIDS, but did not disclose it to Christian. Christian hired Marvin Mitchelson, and sued Hudson's estate for damages and emotional distress. He won a $21.7 million jury award in 1989, which was reduced to $5.5 million in 1991. Underwent emergency quintuple heart bypass surgery to relieve severely clogged coronary arteries in November 1981 after suffering chest pains, and began smoking again at the hospital immediately after the operation. Consequently he was very frail during the filming of The Ambassador (1984), and did not get along with his co- star Robert Mitchum. Is portrayed by Thomas Ian Griffith in Rock Hudson (1990) (TV) Died the same day as George Savalas. He and Savalas' older brother, Telly Savalas appeared in Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971). Hudson and his partner Marc Christian went out of their way while traveling near downtown Los Angeles, so that the couple could meet Michael Jackson during the filming of his award-winning music video, Thriller (1983) (TV). According to the book, "The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson", the original plan was to call him "Roc" but someone pointed out the possibility of confusion with the 1940s actress, Rochelle Hudson, so a "k" was added and "Roc" became "Rock". Hudson was diagnosed with AIDS on 5 June 1984 but when the signs of illness became apparent, his publicity staff and doctors told the public that he had liver cancer. Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981- 1985, pages 405-407. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998. His favorite performances were in Giant (1956) and Seconds (1966). When Hudson initially became ill with AIDS his boyfriend Marc Christian thought he had lung cancer, because he was a heavy smoker. Became very close to Roman Gabriel while filming The Undefeated (1969). Following a right-shoulder injury in 1973, often used his left hand to write and pick up objects on "McMillan & Wife" (1971). Less than a month after announcing he had AIDS, Hudson wrote a check for $250,000 to help get the then-fledgling National AIDS Research Foundation (NARF) off the ground. Following his diagnosis of AIDS in 1984, Hudson told his doctor that he hoped he would die from a heart attack (he had undergone an emergency quintuple heart bypass in 1981) before the public could find out the truth. In 1977 he toured 13 cities as King Arthur in the musical "Camelot". He stayed at the White House in May 1984 as a guest of then President Ronald Reagan. First Lady Nancy Davis wrote to Hudson saying how glad she and her husband were to see him looking well following his operation. A conservative Republican, Hudson joined Ronald Reagan, John Wayne, Irene Dunne and Raymond Massey in campaigning for Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election. Made "Top 10 stars of the year" a record eight times from 1957 to 1964. Was very close friends with singer Dusty Springfield. Grew a mustache and sideburns for his role in The Undefeated (1969). Afterwards he decided to retain that look throughout the 1970s. Early in his career he had surgery on his vocal chords to make his voice deeper, and had his teeth capped. The surgery had the unfortunate side effect of making it impossible for Hudson to learn to sing. Therefore when he played King Arthur in "Camelot" he had to talk his way through the songs, just as Rex Harrison did in My Fair Lady (1964). He was the original choice to play Jason Colby in the "Dynasty" (1981) spin off "The Colbys" (1985), but had to turn it down due to his declining health. The part went to Charlton Heston instead. Pat Boone was allowed inside Hudson's Hollywood mansion to pray for his soul as the actor lay dying. Ironically, according to his close friends, Hudson was a lifelong atheist. Was seriously considered for the male lead in Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie (1964), and actually met with Hitchcock, but was turned down in favor of Sean Connery. In order to make A Farewell to Arms (1957), he turned down Marlon Brando's role in Sayonara (1957), William Holden's role in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), and Charlton Heston's role in Ben-Hur (1959). The three films he had turned down went on to become hugely successful and were critically acclaimed, while A Farewell to Arms (1957) proved to be one of the biggest flops in history. At the time of his death, his estate was valued at $22 million. After announcing he had AIDS in July 1985, Hudson received telegrams of support from Frank Sinatra, Gregory Peck, Marlene Dietrich, James Garner, Carol Burnett, Ali MacGraw, Jack Lemmon, Richard Dreyfuss, Ava Gardner, Mickey Rooney, Milton Berle and Madonna. President Ronald Reagan, who had recently undergone surgery for colon cancer, personally telephoned him at the hospital. He was very near-sighted and wore glasses all the time off screen. He would rarely allow himself to be photographed wearing glasses though. Although Hudson never publicly came out as gay during his lifetime, he did authorize a biography by Sara Davidson, "Rock Hudson: His Story" (1986), which discussed his private life in great detail. In the last eighteen months of his life, his weight dropped from 215 lbs to 140 lbs. Had a priceless record collection, which was taken by Marc Christian after his death. An accomplished bridge player. He had always been critical of plastic surgery, although in 1981 he had surgery on his eyelids after a cameraman convinced him it would make him look better on screen. He actively sought the leading role in Ice Station Zebra (1968), and after Laurence Harvey backed out of the project, Hudson was cast. He was very disappointed by the box office failure of Seconds (1966), which he considered to be his best performance and had hoped would show the public that he could be a versatile film actor. In 1979 he was involved in a DUI incident when he crashed his car into a palm tree in Los Angeles late one night. Once said he knew had made it in Hollywood after he received more applause and cheers at the premiere of Bend of the River (1952) than the film's star, James Stewart. He was Universal Studio's first choice to play Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), but was rejected as being too young at 36. Along with Cary Grant, he was regarded as one of the best-dressed male stars in Hollywood. In the summer of 1966 he was released from his studio contract after "Tobruk" and proceeded to work independently for the rest of his career. It is not known how he contracted AIDS. In Sara Davidson's biography of him, she (quoting a friend indirectly) speculates that he might have picked up the virus through blood transfusions related to his 1981 heart surgery. He signed a contract with Universal Studios to do "McMillan & Wife" (1971) in 1971 for one of the largest salaries ever seen in television at the time. Although commonly listed as 6'4", he is believed to have downplayed his height. His character is repeatedly referred to as being 6'6" in the film Pillow Talk (1959) and, upon co-starring with 'John Wayne' and James Stewart, he was clearly taller than those very tall stars. Many sources list him 6'5" which would put him as equal to Vince Vaughn, Tim Robbins and, the tallest leading man per the Guinness Book of World Records, Christopher Lee as the tallest leading men. His agent subtracted two years from his date of birth--from 1925 to 1923--in order to get Hudson more mature roles. Was in talks, with Doris Day and Tony Randall, for a Pillow Talk sequel at the time he was diagnosed was AIDS. The story reportedly would have him and Doris Day's character being married and dealing with their daughter's upcoming marriage to Tony Randall's son. Universal agreed to loan Hudson to his original studio Warner Bros. in exchange for the services of Warner contractee Virginia Mayo for the potboiler "Congo Crossing.". MGM offered Universal $750,000 for Hudson to play the starring role in "Ben-Hur," but the studio refused. After Husdon had chosen his new name Rock when it was suggested by agent Henry Willson, the actor objected when Universal tried to shorten the spelling to Roc. After Raoul Walsh sold Rock Hudson's contract to Universal, he retained the right to his services in one film. This was ultimately settled a decade later when Walsh was assigned a percentage of the profits from "Come September.".

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Person Photo

Birth Name

Roy Harold Scherer Jr.

Birth Place

Winnetka, Illinois, États-Unis

Birth Date

11/17/1925

Death Date

10/2/1985
Known For
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Pillow Talk

Brad Allen - 'Rex Stetson'

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Lover Come Back

Jerry Webster

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Giant

Jordan 'Bick' Benedict Jr.

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Send Me No Flowers

George

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The Undefeated

Col. James Langdon

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Man's Favorite Sport?

Roger Willoughby

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Ice Station Zebra

Cdr. James Ferraday

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Written on the Wind

Mitch Wayne

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Bend of the River

Trey Wilson

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A Farewell to Arms

Lt. Frederick Henry

Starring In
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Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed

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Being Mary Tyler Moore

Self (archive footage)

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Clint Eastwood, la dernière légende

Self (archive footage)

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All About Yves Montand

Self (archive footage)

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Filmstar mit Charakter - Simone Signoret

Self (archive footage)

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Killing Patient Zero

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The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin

Self (archive footage)

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The Fabulous Allan Carr

Self (archive footage)

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Tab Hunter Confidential

Himself (archive footage)

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Children of Giant

Self (archive footage)

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And the Oscar Goes To...

Himself (archive footage)

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James Dean: Forever Young

Self (archive footage)

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Mayor of the Sunset Strip

Himself (archive footage)

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Elizabeth Taylor: A Musical Celebration

(archive footage) (uncredited)

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The James Dean Story

Himself - 'Giant' premiere footage (uncredited)

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50 Years: The Best Of Hollywood

Interview (archive footage)

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Off the Menu - The Last Days of Chasen's

Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

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The Silver Screen: Color Me Lavender

(archive footage)

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And the Band Played On

Himself (epilogue sequence) (archive footage) (uncredited)

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Rock Hudson

Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

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Common Threads - Stories from the Quilt

Himself (archive footage)

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George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey

Self (archive footage)

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The Ambassador

Frank Stevenson

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The Mirror Crack'd

Jason Rudd

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Avalanche (1978)

David Shelby

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Embryo

Dr. Paul Holliston

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Showdown

Chuck Jarvis

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Pretty Maids All in a Row

Michael 'Tiger' McDrew

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L'Assaut des Jeunes Loups

Turner

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Darling Lili

Major William Larrabee

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The Undefeated

Col. James Langdon

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Portrait eines Produzenten - David O. Selznick in Hollywood

Himself (uncredited)

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Ice Station Zebra

Cdr. James Ferraday

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Tobruk

Maj. Donald Craig

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Seconds

Antiochus Wilson

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Blindfold

Dr. Bartholomew Snow

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Strange Bedfellows

Carter Harrison

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A Very Special Favor

Paul Chadwick

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Rock Hudson Screen Legend Collection (The Golden Blade / Has Anybody Seen My Gal? / The Last Suns...

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Send Me No Flowers

George

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Man's Favorite Sport?

Roger Willoughby

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A Gathering of Eagles

Col. Jim Caldwell

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The Spiral Road

Dr. Anton Drager

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Lover Come Back

Jerry Webster

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Come September

Robert L. Talbot

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The Last Sunset

Dana Stribling

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Pillow Talk

Brad Allen - 'Rex Stetson'

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This Earth Is Mine

John Rambeau

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Twilight for the Gods

Captain David Bell

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A Farewell to Arms

Lt. Frederick Henry

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The Tarnished Angels

Burke Devlin

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Something of Value

Henry's Son - Peter

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Battle Hymn

Col. Dean Hess

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Giant

Jordan 'Bick' Benedict Jr.

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Written on the Wind

Mitch Wayne

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Never Say Goodbye

Dr. Michael Parker

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All That Heaven Allows

Ron Kirby

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One Desire

Clint Saunders

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Captain Lightfoot

Michael Martin

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Bengal Brigade

Capt. Jeffrey Claybourne

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Magnificent Obsession

Bob Merrick

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Taza, Son of Cochise

Taza

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Gun Fury

Ben Warren

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The Golden Blade

Harun

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Sea Devils

Gilliatt

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Seminole

Lt. Lance Caldwell

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Il Comandante del Flying Moon

Peter Keith

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Beneath the 12 Mile Reef

Narrator (uncredited)

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Horizons West

Neil Hammond

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The Lawless Breed

John Wesley Hardin

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Scarlet Angel

Frank Truscott

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Bend of the River

Trey Wilson

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Has Anybody Seen My Gal

Dan Stebbins

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Tomahawk - Aufstand der Sioux

Burt Hanna

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Air Cadet

Upper Classman

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Iron Man

Tommy 'Speed' O'Keefe - aka Kosco

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Bright Victory

Dudek

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The Fat Man

Roy Clark

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Winchester '73

Young Bull

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I Was a Shoplifter

Si Swanson - Store Detective

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Shakedown

Ted

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The Desert Hawk

Captain Ras

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Undertow

Detective (as Roc Hudson)

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Fighter Squadron

Second Lieutenant (uncredited)

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