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7 March 1999 (USA)  »

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Roy Harold Scherer, Jr. Spearheads Public Awareness
26 May 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Peter Graves narrates this account of the life and career of Roy Harold Scherer, Jr., born in 1925, an only child of grocery store employee Katherine Wood and automobile mechanic Roy Harold Scherer, Sr., who abandons the family during the Great Depression. Katherine remarries Wallace Fitzgerald, who adopts Roy, who now becomes Roy Fitzgerald.

But step-father Wally treats the child unkindly and strikes Roy upon his announcing dreams of becoming an actor. After his schooling, Roy enlists in the service and becomes an aircraft mechanic for the United States Navy during World War II.

Relocating to Long Beach, California, for a brief reuniting with his father, Roy works as a truck driver, while continuing his ambitions to become an actor. From here...

* 1948, Roy has a chance meeting with Hollywood talent scout Henry Willson, who takes Roy under his wing, and decides upon his stage name, Rock Hudson.

* Rock faces difficulty on the set of the film in which he delivers his first speaking line because, well, he cannot yet act, but undergoes training and voice coaching, and improves his talents tremendously.

* Many of Rock's early roles (under contract with Universal) spotlight his healthy physical attributes, but it is his role in "Magnificent Obsession" (1954) which makes him a star.

* By the mid-1950's, Rock's popularity begins to soar, and soon he is named #1 leading man in several film audience polls.

* After a series of strong Dramatic turns, Rock is cast in his first starring role in a Comedy, in "Pillow Talk" (1959), which he remarks is "too racy" and is tuned down.

* Much is discussed regarding Rock's orientation and the negative press coverage, which must be suppressed by Universal Studios, including Rock's arranged marriage with secretary Phyllis Gates (1955-58), who declines interviews.

* During the premiere of "Ice Station Zebra" (1968), hecklers line the red carpet to shout obscenities at Rock, causing him to avoid attending another premiere.

* 1971, Rock accepts a starring role in the television Drama "McMillan & Wife," which introduces him to a brand new audience, in a deal less demanding than a weekly series would command.

* On Stage during this period, Rock performs in "I Do, I Do, I Do," and "Camelot." But as he hasn't the talent for singing, Rock must learn a new skill for the Musical.

* During his television stint on "Dynasty," it is announced that Rock, now in rapidly declining health, receives newfound fame as the first major star who tests positive for the AIDS virus, a fact publicizing the need for advances in medical treatment.

* This episode mentions Rock's biography/autobiography, "Rock Hudson: His Story" (1986) and his relationships with Hollywood Publicist Tom Clark, who also publishes a memoir, "Rock Hudson: Friend of Mine," and Marc Christian, who presses a lawsuit against the Hudson estate for not being informed of Rock's illness.

* This also mentions Rock's 1984 appeal to the Reagan Administration for funding AIDS research, but to no avail even amid public outcries.

Interview Guests for this episode consist of (Actresses) Arlene Dahl and Jane Wyman, (Actors) Jack Larson, Jack Scalia and Robert Stack, (Directors) Lou Antonio, John Frankenheimer and Delbert Mann, Betty Kimball (Cousin), Yanou Collart (Press Agent), Sara Davidson (Biographer/co-author "Rock Hudson: His Story"), Armistead Maupin (Author/Friend), (Classmates) Bob David and Pat McGuire, (Friends) Mark Miller and Stockton Briggle, Robert Preble (former Roommate), and Rupert Allen (Publisher).

Archive footage includes Rock Hudson, Jane Wyman, Elizabeth Taylor, Doris Day, Susan St. James, Ross Hunter, Marc Christian and several unidentified co-stars in speaking roles.

Film clips include a screen glimpse of Rock Hudson through the years, in scenes from "Bend of the River" (1952), "Has Anybody Seen My Gal" (1952), "Taza, Son of Cochise" (1954), "Magnificent Obsession" (1954), "All That Heaven Allows" (1955), "Giant" (1956), "Written on the Wind" (1956), "Battle Hymn" (1957), "Pillow Talk" (1959), "Lover Come Back" (1961), "Come September" (1961), "A Gathering of Eagles" (1963), "Seconds" (1966), "Ice Station Zebra" (1968), "Embryo" (1976), and Television's "McMillan & Wife: Once Upon a Dead Man" (Pilot, 1971), as well as an interview with Rock on "Terry Wogan Show" (BBC, 1985).

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