"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone
who's weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fill in mutual weirdness and call it
Rock Hudson's homosexuality was one of the worst kept secrets on the
planet. Sometimes he was extremely concerned and protective of his image,
and other times he would just throw down with the gays. It just depended on who he felt at the moment.
I remember being in grade school in 1973 and hearing about the
wedding that was to take place between Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors. "Rock
Hudson? You're crazy. He can't be a fag." Mmhm.
Guess what. Rock lived the life, and never stopped. Until the
"I love to smoke. I keep hoping someone will discover
it's a healthy habit because the smoke kills all the germs in your system. I love to
drink and I hate exercise. I
don't mind going out on the side of a hill and chopping down a tree, but I hate organized exercise. I built a gym in my house but I never use it. I
don't even like to walk through it."
I read Tom Clark's book Friend
of Mine, the other day. Clark said it
was "the book he swore he would never write." A memoir about his
life with Rock. He did explain that he wrote it to counteract the bad
things that were written by those he considered less qualified. By most
accounts, Tom was very much an important part of Rock's life for many
years. He was also very protective of Rock's memory, after Rock died.
There are no revelations in the book, it's kind, and trite.
Best anecdote ever: "While we were in Rio, we made the obligatory sightseeing tour to the mountain that has a gigantic Christ figure. That day, a heavy cloud sat on top of the mountain, obscuring the statue. We climbed the steps until we were at the base of the figure and then - a miracle! - the cloud lifted and there stood two friends from Hollywood, Valerie Harper and Ruth
Clark claimed that Rock couldn't have got AIDS
from being promiscuous, and Rock "certainly wasn't Haitian." In
real life, Rock's parties are legendary. I had a gentleman on my tour who told me his uncle was invited to a black tie affair at
Rock's house. He arrived in a tux, only to find every other guest (all male) nude, except for a black tie.
Another had 50 nude men in a swimming pool. A
guest asked, "Who are they?" Rock responded, "The blondes are named Scott and the brunettes are named
Rock started losing weight. He had a bit
of a belly, so at the beginning it made him happy. He developed a sore
that wouldn't heal. It was looked at.
He was diagnosed with HIV on June 5, 1984.
According to one report, Mark Miller, a long term friend of Rock's said that
Rock became infected by a $150 hooker. "Six months later, we got a letter saying,
"I'm terribly, terribly
sorry. I did not know it at the time, but I'm HIV positive." Others
deny this report. Tom Clark swears that Rock contracted the disease
through a blood transfusion, when he had bypass surgery in 1981.
Hudson's last acting gig was on Dynasty. The press
blew a nerve when they learned that Rock had the AIDS and kissed Linda Evans
onscreen. There was one report stating that Rock bragged, "it was a wet, juicy kiss." Linda Evans
stated that Rock's "lips were tight shut. He barely touched the side of my mouth. He really cheated the audience with that kiss." Rock himself agonized
over that kiss and made sure that his lips were dry and nothing really touched Linda.
EJ Fleming sends this amazing document written by one of Rock's household
staff during the scandal. Rock sent Linda flowers, so Linda's secretary
called over to confirm they were from Rock. Or... "someone else's
Thank you EJ
Fleming - we are honored to have you as a
Two months before Rock died, he joined Doris Day
on the first episode of her new cable TV show Doris Day's Best Friends. Rock looked like shit.
People were horrified.
On July 25, 1985, Rock announced that
he had the AIDS in a press release.
"I am not happy that I am sick. I
am not happy that I have AIDS. But if that is helping others, I can at
least know that my own misfortune has had some positive worth."
He flew to Paris for an experimental
treatment. Afterwards, he chartered a 747 (A 747) to bring him back to the
States for $300,000.00. One doctor commented that the amount was his
entire year's AIDS research budget.
Rock continued treatment at Cedars Sinai
Medical Center for about a month. A lot of Rock's friends stopped by to
visit. Of course Liz was there. So were Juliet Prowse, Carol
Burnett... Roddy McDowall's visit was so depressing, they told him not to come
back. Angie Dickinson wanted to,
but didn't. I imagine a lot of people wanted to, and didn't.
Rock knew his time was up. He wanted to
go home. The
Castle. Doctors objected, with a string of "what-ifs".
Rock et al probably just figured, 'what's the worst that's gonna happen?
In The Castle, Rock would drift in and out of clarity. He spent his last
days in the master bedroom (The Blue Room) that had a dark wood four poster bed,
adorned with a carved nude man. People visited. A priest was invited
in and Rock gave a confession. This is good: Pat Boone and his wife Shirley, Gavin and Patty MacLeod, and about 6 other highly religious people paid a visit to Rock, and had a prayer vigil. Hard core. Speaking in
tongues (no doubt shooting the stink eye to the bed's nudie statue). A delirious
Rock opened his eyes and said, "Oh hello. Thank you for coming."
to Tom Clark: On the morning Rock died, they watched The Today Show. He and
Rock had a cup of coffee. Tom asked Rock if he wanted another cup, "No, I
don't believe so." Clark left the room, a nurse stayed with Rock. When he returned, the nurse stated,
"Mr. Clark, Rock is gone."
It was October 2nd, 1985 and Hudson was 59 years old.
One report I read stated, "While paparazzi coagulated outside the house, Shirley Boone
(again with the Boones.) climbed to the second floor bedroom carrying a Bible with her name emblazoned on the cover. Over the corpse in the
king-size bed, she
chanted, "Get the disease out of the body." Then, grasping Rock
Hudson's thin legs, she began to speak in tongues. This continued for half an hour, while the coroner waited
Now according to Tom Clark, when Rock died Tom stayed alone with him for 10 minutes, then he and the nurse cleaned up Rock and called the funeral
Clark says that he and Rock discussed the
mayhem of a celebrity funeral they had attended, and turned Rock off completely
on a public thing. Clark promised Rock that he would accompany Rock's body
from The Castle to cremation, never leaving his side.
The press were alerted, and the media
converged. Liz Taylor sent over her personal security to help diffuse the
situation. You know they were always on "stand-by" at
Liz's. She was America's Queen Mother.
An inconspicuous van picked up Rock's body, which was loaded in the garage.
It was all done on the secret, hush hush. No one wanted to touch Rock's corpse. At the time, who could blame them?
Tom Clark had originally cleaned up in Rock's
Last Will and Testament, dated August 18, 1981. 5 days after signing
submitted a codicil that snatched that shit away. The fascinating document is available at Celebrity
Collectables. Cars, furniture, films, all personal property and personal
effects... for you. No wait.
In the document, Rock requested that after cremation, his
remains be "scattered in the channel between Wilmington and Catalina
Liz threw a memorial service on October 19 for 150 close and personal friends.
Robert Wagner, Stephanie Powers, Esther Williams, Lee Remick, Tab Hunter, Susan
St. James, Angie Dickinson, Roddy McDowell. Carol Burnett and
others, eulogized Rock. According to Rock's wishes, there were margaritas and mariachis.
Rock has had many relationships in his life. A lot of very
complicated relationships. I can't even begin to sort through Miller,
Clark, Christian... and I won't. Plenty of that elsewhere, it's not hard
"Stuart and I went up to see Rock Hudson's exhibit at the William Doyle gallery (cab $3). And the whole thing was so nelly, not one good thing.
You'd like to think that a big brute movie star would have had great fifties stuff, like maybe big rugged Knoll pieces, but it was just comfortable nelly junk from his New York apartment. There was only one sort of nice thing, a wooden box that was so ugly and Elizabeth Taylor had written on
it." Get it. Read it. So funny.
You can still buy Rock Hudson real memorabilia here.
Trivia: His birth name was Roy Harold Scherer, Jr. John
Wayne used to piss Rock off and call him "June" for Junior. Rock
got even and referred to Wayne as Marion. That ended soon enough.
Trivia: He was good friends with Lauren Bacall and was working with her in Written on the Wind when Bogie was ill. He would always drop her off after the days shoot, and spend a few minutes with
the dying Bogart.
Trivia: Rock and his wife (yes) attended the infamous
dinner party at Liz's house with Monty Clift and Kevin McCarthy, when Monty
ate it, going down the hill. Wouldn't be the first time.
Trivia: Rock is credited with discovering
Lee Majors. Were they ever a couple? I don't know. I do
know that Lee won't discuss it. But here is
proof that they were involved on some level. By the way, Lee's real
name is Lee Yeary.
"I did not give Lee Majors his start in
acting. You can't pin that one on me. Technically, he hasn't started
acting yet." Whoops. Somebody pissed somebody off.
(A real conversation I had with Lee Majors:
Me: Hi, I'm Scott Michaels - nice to meet you.
Lee: Nice to meet you too. Where are
Lee: My parents were killed in Detroit.
Trivia: From my Celebrity Cookbook:
"Years ago, whenever I was interviewed, people would ask
me if I cooked," said actor Rock Hudson. "I'd always just say,
'Yes.' Back then, I didn't really know how to do an interview. I didn't
know I was expected to expound on a given question! I was expected to be
rather shy about it, too! The truth is, I really did used to cook!
But now I'm out of practice. Last week, I cooked a steak and corn on the
cob. The steak was charred and the corn was underdone!"
Rock is easygoing, charming and casually comfortable in blue
jeans. "I have a very good houseman, Peter," he
explained. "Boy, can he cook!" Recently Rock honored
Nancy Walker at a special birthday dinner. "Peter made a birthday
cake of paté. He wrote 'Happy Birthday, Nancy,' in mayonnaise!"
Rock enjoys nothing more than an evening of bridge with his friends.
He likes to serve a simple menu, including a hearty stew or delicious beef
stroganoff. Over the years, his formula for a successful party has not
changed: "Lots of good food, basic and plenty of good booze. A lot of
people hide their good liquor when they entertain and bring on the supermarket
special Scotch. Frankly, I find that offensive. It's an insult to
your guests. Most people don't know the difference, and generally I can't
tell either. It's the idea that offends me!"
If your houseboy, Peter, can't write something in mayonnaise on
your plate, or if you have to come up with stroganoff for the boys
who come over to play bridge... crack out the good liquor and Rock's recipe for
Chicken Casserole. You'll be glad you did. I just wish Nancy
Walker would be there with a roll of Bounty paper towels.
Trivia: According to legend, when making Giant, Rock had a bet with Elizabeth Taylor over who could bed
James Dean first. I don't subscribe to the story because I don't believe that Liz knew
Rock was a gay at that time. Anyway, according to legend, Rock won.
When Rock heard the news that Dean was killed, he reportedly sobbed for hours.
If Rock and James Dean were a couple, their relationship would have been
like this. Don't worry, it's safe.
I'll leave you with two pretty unbelievable Rock Hudson
moments, one with Mae West
and the other is a light hearted variety show appearance with Bea Arthur,
they sing about cocaine
30 years ago this week (June 12, 1981) the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the first study on the
severity of what would become the AIDS epidemic, based on research that focused
on five men in Los Angeles who contracted a rare type of pneumonia with no
They say that Rock Hudson "Gave AIDS a
face." After Rock Hudson, everyone knew someone that died from it.
Elizabeth Taylor - it's easy to mock her, but she stepped up. She
started the campaign for research and a cure, LONG before there were AIDS walks and
fundraisers. Bless her. If you were to make a donation in Rock's
memory, this would be the place to do it.