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Rock Hudson Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (5) | Trivia (69) | Personal Quotes (23) | Salary (6)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 17 November 1925Winnetka, Illinois, USA
Date of Death 2 October 1985Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (AIDS)
Birth NameRoy Harold Scherer Jr.
Nicknames Roy
Leroy
Rock Pyle
Fitz
Mr Beefcake
Height 6' 5" (1.96 m)

Mini Bio (1)

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 (1)

Phyllis Gates (9 November 1955 - 13 August 1958) (divorced)

Trade Mark (5)

Deep, sensous voice
Thick black hair
Moved from westerns to sob stories to sosphisticated comedies
Towering, sculpted frame
Ideal leading-man good looks

Trivia (69)

Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#28).
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 B. 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), while in Israel during the winter months of 1983 and 1984, and he did not get along with his co-star Robert Mitchum.
Is portrayed by Thomas Ian Griffith in Rock Hudson (1990)
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).
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 lover 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 June 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 Reagan 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.
His favorite of his films was the Cold War drama Ice Station Zebra (1968).
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 18 months of his life, his weight dropped from 215 lbs to 140 lbs. He weighed 126 lbs at the time of his death.
Had a priceless record collection, which was taken by Marc Christian after his death.
He stood six foot by the time he was fourteen.
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 filming Tobruk (1967) 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 Dayand Tony Randall, for a Pillow Talk (1959) 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 (1956).
MGM offered Universal $750,000 for Hudson to play the starring role in Ben-Hur (1959) 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 (1961).
Hudson was assigned to The Golden Blade (1953) only after Tony Curtis and Farley Granger turned it down.
Hollywood writer Sidney Skilosky coined the cliché "Beefcake" to describe Hudson.
Despite playing their father in Giant (1956), Hudson was just 6 years older than Carroll Baker, 9 years older than Fran Bennett and 11 years older than Dennis Hopper.
In June 2014, he was honored as Turner Classic Movies' Star of the Month.
His father left the family and his mother married Wallace Fitzgerald. Hudson's legal name was then changed from Scherer to Fitzgerald.
His father was of German and Swiss-German descent. His maternal grandfather was an English immigrant, and his maternal grandmother was born in Illinois, to Irish parents.

Personal Quotes (23)

His legal name was Roy Fitzgerald. When meeting John F. Kennedy, the American president remarked: "They say all Fitzgeralds are related." to which Hudson replied, "I guess that makes Ella happy."
I had to overcome the name Rock. If I'd been as hip then as I am now, I would have never consented to be named Rock.
John Wayne was then the Hollywood legend, and I was on screen with him. The guy is an angel. He saved my life back then when no other film maker wanted to know me. - On The Undefeated (1969)
I did a movie with Duke Wayne and was very surprised to find out he had small feet, wore lifts, and a corset. Hollywood is seldom what it seems.
I can't play a loser - I don't look like one.
I have no philosophy about acting or anything else. You just do it. And I mean that. You just do it. However, I can say that with ease after thirty-five years.
"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." (1985)
(In the early 1980s, before his sickness was publicly known) " I always consider my job just as someone working in an office. Past 5 P.M., I lead my very own existence far from the cameras. It's essential for an actor to clearly separate private life from work... essential for me, anyway."
I also remember meeting Gary Cooper at a party. I was so impressed that I blurted out that all the stars I had met before had been terrific people. Cooper thought about it for a minute, then said, "Yes, I suppose we are, the ones who are on top. But watch out for the ones who haven't quite made it, or are past it." It was valuable advice.
[on Elizabeth Taylor] She's indestructible.
Someone asked me once what my philosophy of life was, and I said some crazy thing. I should have said, how the hell do I know?
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.
Nobody is discovered. Ever. Publicity departments loved to say that Lana Turner was discovered sitting at a soda fountain counter, drinking a chocolate soda ... It isn't true. I mean, there are too many interesting-looking people on Earth for that to ever happen.
It was the biggest mistake of my career. - On A Farewell to Arms (1957)
It was better than I thought. Why didn't I put more into it? - On McMillan & Wife (1971)
I welcome my birthdays. Relish them, as a matter of fact. I have confidence now and can look forward to trying new things. I don't think fifty was a crucial age. Forty was, and thirty-nine because I was facing forty. But lately everything has fallen into place. (1983)
I've heard that rumor for years and I just don't care about it. I know lots of gays in Hollywood. Some have tried it on with me, but I've always said, 'Come on, you've got the wrong guy!' As soon as they know that, it's okay! (1978)
Television is the monster of all time that eats everything and everybody. When they wanted McMillan & Wife (1971) to go to two hours I said, 'Why? The thing doesn't even hold up for ninety minutes!'.
Right from the start, I hated the script. I just didn't believe in that man for one minute. Making fun of death is difficult and dangerous. That scene where I went out and bought a plot for myself in the cemetery - to me it was completely distasteful. - On Send Me No Flowers (1964)
If you're cast in crap like Taza, Son of Cochise (1954), it doesn't matter if you experiment with a scene and it goes wrong. Who's gonna notice? But if it works, you can use it in a better film. Like Giant (1956), perhaps.
Do you want to know the secret of my second youth? Well, it must have something to do with my being surrounded by men. Women put too much of a strain on the heart! (1984)
[After walking out of Los Angeles premiere of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)] Will someone tell me what the hell this is about?
He was like ol' Dad to me, and I was like a son to him, I think. When you're scared and new and you're trying to figure out this thing, and suddenly an older man will reach out and say, 'There, there, it's okay,' that was Douglas Sirk.

Salary (6)

Giant (1956) $100,000
A Farewell to Arms (1957) $17,000 per week
McMillan & Wife (1971) $120,000 /episode
McMillan & Wife (1971) $120,000 /episode (first season)
McMillan & Wife (1971) $75,000 per 90 minutes episode
Dynasty (1981) $100,000 per episode

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