Rock Hudson was a prominent and prolific heartthrob of the Golden Age of Hollywood. And although he‘s pretty popular with the ladies, he secretly is gay and didn’t care to reciprocate female attention. He achieved stardom with his roles in films such as 1954s Magnificent Obsession, 1955’s Heaven Allows, and 1956s Giant. The latter of which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Hudson finds ongoing success appearing in films, including 1959s Pillow Talk, 1964s Send Me No Flowers, and 1967s Tobruk. After frustrations with the quality of scripts that he is offered, Hudson turned to the TV. He was very successful in that medium as well, notably starring in the popular 1971 mystery series McMillian & Wife. His final role before his death was guest-starring on the ABC primetime soap Dynasty from 1984 to 1985.
His fame in the early to mid-1960s, very few people in Hollywood are closer than Rock Hudson and Lee Garlington. They are together from 1962 to 1965.
Hudson dies from AIDS-related complications on October 2, 1985, at the relatively young age of 59. Garlington and other friends Hudson, including Michael Gottlieb, an immunologist who provides medical care for Hudson after he contracts HIV. Wallace Sheft, and Pillow Talk Doris Day share their intimate memories of the late actor in People Magazine in 2015.
We learned a lot of startling revelations about the since-deceased actor in that exchange. One of the most fascinating treats is learning about Rock’s relationship with his boyfriend, Lee Garrington. Since homosexuality isn’t welcome back in the mid-20th century as it is today. The two lovers gain great lengths to keep their Gay life as secret as possible. Now that the world isn’t nearly as homophobic as it is. Absolutely enthralling to learn about what gay stars experiences back during these trying times.
Join FactsVerse as we unravel the secrets that Garrington revealed about Rock Hudson’s life, career, and partner (love life). But first, let’s take a look back at Hudson’s early life and rise to fame.
Rock Hudson’s Life Story In A Nutshell
Hudson was born Roy Harold Scherer Jr in the small town of Winnetka, Illinois. His mother, Katherine, was a telephone operator while his father, Roy Harold Scherer Sr worked as an auto mechanic. His parents divorced when he is 8 and takes an interest in the theater when he is a teenager. He fails to land roles in school plays due to the fact that he is unable to memorize his lines.
After graduating from high school, Hudson first labors as a postal worker during the second world war. He enlists in the Navy where he serves as an airplane mechanic. After the war was over, with the Allied forces claiming victory, Hudson worked briefly as a truck driver.
Because of his height, good looks, and charm, he managed to find his way into movies. It was then that he officially changed his name to Rock Hudson. He gets his teeth fixed, took acting lessons, and learns various other skills. It’ll come in handy in the film industry, including singing, fencing, and horseback riding.
Even though he notices in Hollywood, he still isn’t able to get the knack of remembering his lines. In his first film, 1948s Fighter Squadron, it reportedly took 38 takes to nail one of his lines.
However, he overcomes his handicap and becomes one of the most prestigious and most sought-after actors of that time. In 1956, he received an Oscar nod for his role in the film Giant. Just two years later, Look Magazine named him their Star of the Year.
Rock is notable for being one of the first public figures to reveal that he gets AIDS. His passionate search for a cure for the disease brings him international attention. After he passes away, his long-term lover Marc Christian manages to sue Hudson’s estate, again drawing attention to his sexuality. For the majority of his life, Rock tries to keep the fact that he is a homosexual secret. If only he are still alive today, he will then be able to fully embrace who he is and whom he loves.
Rock’s Relationship With Lee Garlington
Garlington was just a young extra trying to find his big break in Hollywood when he first met Rock back in 1962.
He tells People that Rock is the biggest film star in the world, and he hears the rumors that he is gay, so he figures he ought to take a look at Hudson himself to see what all the hype is about. Lee stood outside of Rock’s cottage on the Universal lot acting as if he were reading a magazine, which he humorously admits was likely upside down.
When Hudson walked out and strolled down the street, he simply looked back once – and that was it. That was their first encounter. No fireworks, no explosions, just a single glance.
Garlington says that he scares to death when he gets the chance to meet Hudson more formally at his mansion in Beverly Hills. Hudson, who stood tall at 6 foot 4, was an imposing presence, but he offered Lee a beer in a friendly manner.
Unfortunately, Garlington was too nervous to say much. All that he was able to get out was a quick ‘let’s get together. Much to Lee’s delight, however, Hudson agreed that they should hang out. Garlington subsequently would regularly come over to Rock’s house after work, spend the evening there and then leave in the morning.
Garlington would sneak out early in the morning and tiptoe to his Chevy Nova before coasting down the street without turning on the motor so that the neighbors wouldn’t notice him departing, At the time, both he and Hudson thought they were being exceptionally clever.
The two would even attend film premiers together, but to create a cover for their secret relationship, they would each bring along a female date.
Garlington says that no one in their ‘right mind’ back then would have felt comfortable coming out. That would certainly result in the end of their career, so he and Hudson did whatever they could to pass as straight. Even so, some people knew what was up. Garlington told People about a time that he had met Paul Newman and his wife at a movie premiere. The second he looked at him, he grinned, and Lee knew in that moment that Newman knew that he and Rock were together.
Interestingly, Rock never requested of Lee that they keep their relationship secret. He wasn’t paranoid about it or anything at first. They simply had a mutual, unspoken understanding that they should keep their relationship under wraps, and Lee did his best to respect his lover’s wishes.
That changed a bit however when one of Hudson’s female fans broke into his home and proceeded to sleep in his bed when he and Garlington were away on a road trip. On Rock’s dresser, he had photos of Lee shirtless, and while the fan didn’t discover them, it still left him feeling a bit nervous about how vulnerable he had become. After that he had gates installed on his home.
Garlington and Hudson had a beautiful romance. They loved one and other deeply, and by all accounts, they brought out the best in each other. Even so, they ended up breaking up in 1965.
Rock spoke briefly on the breakup years later by explaining how Lee had wanted a father-like figure and that he was simply not strong enough to provide that for him.
The two inevitably lost contact with each other, and by the time Hudson revealed that he had diagnosed with AIDS in 1985, they hadn’t spoken in years.
Garlington says that he was shocked when the news broke of Hudson’s illness. Back in those days, AIDS was essentially a death sentence. He tried to call Rock’s caregivers, but they informed him that he was very sick and probably wouldn’t know who he was.
Garlington later read in one of Hudson’s biographies that Rock had called him his one ‘true love’. When he read those words, Lee recalls that he broke down and cried with grief. He had no idea how deeply Hudson had loved him. According to the biography, Lee and Rock’s mother were the only people the actor had ever loved.
Rock Hudson Banned Garlington From Taking Pictures With Him
Garlington says that he still keeps photos of Hudson in an old antique box at his home, but there is only one surviving one of the two together.
Increasingly worried about the potential fallout of the world finding out about his sexuality, especially after that previously mentioned break-in, Hudson refused to allow anyone to photograph him and his lover together.
Garlington says that Hudson only allowed him to take pictures of him, and not with him. In the years since his death, however, Lee has discovered forgotten photos from a vacation that he went on with the actor in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 1963. The two had received a recommendation to go there by their mutual friend Elizabeth Taylor, whom Hudson starred with in Giant.
Garglington recalls that they would walk up and down the beach taking pictures of each other in addition to riding around in an open-air Jeep. There, they could be themselves. No one knew who they were, and there were no pesky paparazzi hovering about waiting to ‘catch them in the act’.
That one photo that remains of the two together was captured at a bar in New Orleans. The specific reason why they didn’t have any other photos together apparently was because Hudson outright forbid it.
Garlington was once told by the actors agent that he could never be pictured with his boyfriend, because if anyone saw it, they might suspect that he was gay.
Garlington wishes that Hudson had been born 30 or so years later. If he had been, he would have been able to relax a bit more and live a happier life. He further says that Hudson would be downright elated if he had known how much had changed in the years since his passing.
Rock Hudson’s Death Brought Much-Needed Awareness To AIDS
Rock only ever came out the year before his death in 1985. By revealing his sexuality, however, he was able to spread public awareness about the ongoing AIDS epidemic.
Hudson was widely loved and respected. By admitting that he was gay and had contracted AIDS, he effectively changed many people’s attitudes about the disease. He had a huge impact that according to Garlington was ‘more than he ever realized’.
Garlington is now married to his long-time partner Paul Garlington whom he has been with for 36 years. Lee is now 85 years old, and it’s unclear if he and his husband have ever had any kids.
Hudson, however, may have fathered a woman named Judy Dent whose mother Susan announced a few years ago that she was suing his estate for what she believes to be her rightful inheritance. According to some reports, DNA tests have confirmed that she is indeed Hudson’s daughter. Evidently, though, the courts have yet to award her with her claim.
Rock Hudson’s Legacy
For his many contributions to the world’s of cinema and television, Hudson was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. After his death, his dear friend Elizabeth Taylor had a bronze plaque commissioned for Hudson on the West Hollywood Memorial Walk. In 2002, Hudson was honored with a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars.
What are some of your fondest memories of Rock Hudson? Let us know in the comments.
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