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Rock Hudson: Rugged Gay Actor

Rock HudsonRock Hudson was not, regardless of what people say

I find it surprising that back in the mid-'80s some people were surprised to learn that Rock Hudson was gay. At that time, the star of Magnificent Obsession, Giant, and the television series McMillan & Wife became the best-known person with AIDS in the world. After all, since I was a little kid I'd heard stories about Hudson being gay.

Looking at the above photograph, today's jaded crowd will surely assert that it's so obvious that Rock Hudson was gay. Just look at him! I totally disagree.

In fact, I don't see anything "obvious" about Hudson's sexual orientation in the photo. And no, I'm not blind. The guy just looks like a man – gay, straight, anything in between – doing his best to appear classy, or at least what used to pass for classy. [See "Rock Hudson: Dark and Handsome Stranger Documentary."]

Rugged Rock

I usually don't find Rock Hudson very convincing as a "classy" type à la Cary Grant. Although I've always enjoyed Hudson in his comedies with Doris Day, to me he always comes across as an actor – however likable – playing the role of a suave seducer. [See "Doris Day: Rock Hudson Remembered".]

On the other hand, I've always found Rock Hudson fully believable in rugged roles, such as his gardener romancing middle-class widow Jane Wyman in Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows and, especially, his Texan rancher in George Stevens' Giant, married to Elizabeth Taylor while competing with James Dean.

Rock Hudson photo

Now, I should add that the above photo is from the August 1967 issue of Movie Life magazine. But more importantly, you ask, What was Rock Hudson not?

Well, the answer, as per Movie Life, is the following: Regardless of what people say, Hudson was not "Going to the Dogs." The magazine wasn't referring to his film career; the promo piece featured eight photos of the actor and his canine pals.

The end of Rock Hudson's stardom

In truth, by the late '60s Hudson's movie stardom, despite a well-received "serious" role in John Frankenheimer's 1966 thriller Seconds, was headed straight to the kennel. Think A Fine Pair, Hornet's Nest, and Blake Edwards' box office disaster Darling Lili, which all but ruined Julie Andrews' film career.

The television series McMillan & Wife, co-starring Susan Saint James, boosted Hudson's popularity in the early '70s, but only on the small screen. He was never to star in another major motion picture – unless, that is, you'd call Pretty Maids All in a Row, Embryo, Avalanche, and The Mirror Crack'd grade-A productions.

At the age of 59, Rock Hudson died of AIDS complications on October 2, 1985.

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5 Comments to Rock Hudson: Rugged Gay Actor

  1. Jason

    Who in the world said in there post said Rock Hudson was not gay is in denial? Of course Rock Hudson was gay. That has been proven over the years.

  2. Marco A. S. Freitas

    I could not care less about who was Roy Scherer Jr. ´s favourite sort of ´bedfellows´, was: be them guys, ladies and or farm animals. What I miss is his incredible charisma (the camera just loved him) and his very underrated acting abilities (he is way more convincing in GIANT-a movie that has not aged well at all and i was never too fond of, to begin with), than the legendary Jimmy Dean (EAST OF EDEN is Dean´s best performance in the Silver Screen hands down).
    He is even effective in what I think is his last film role, the so-so political thriller THE AMBASSADOR, starring the superb Ellen Burstyn and with Italian Sex Symbol Fabio Testi in/on it.

  3. Frank

    Rock Hudson was not gay just because he had aids, Anyone can contract aids without butt plugging. Rock was a man's man but he was never gay. If he ever said he was it was probably just to shut people up because people are going to think what they want or what is more fun to them. This is why people are stupid, and why human beings will never last. People get dumber and dumber each new generation. The last good generation we had are now dying off, which pretty much is going to be the end. Why else would people stand for there rights being taking away without doing a thing? Why would they elect Bush twice and actually consider Romney? Why did McCain and Palin actually make it to the head republican vote? Why did we elect a president for no other reason but because we never had a african american as president? Because people are stupid thats why. People are so stupid any idiotic tv show or commercial can easily brain wash them. Human beings are just brainless twits.

  4. Waldemar Lopes

    Rock Hudson was such a wonderful ,elegant, charming, handsome actor and I thoroughtly enjoy watching his movies on dvd. I particularly like his comedies with Doris Day and although people think Darling Lili was a disaster, I have such fun seeing the great, adorable Julie Andrews cursing him just to kiss him madly while taking a shower! To me Darling Lili is great Blake Edwards entertainment. I don't care about Rock's private life, just feel sorry that people still remember him mostly for the sunset days of his life. To me, all the way he was as brave and great in real life as he was in films. Elizabeth Taylor and Julie Andrews remained good friends and the latter always mentions him as 'so sweet' in interviews.

  5. david hannay

    Who cares that Rock Hudson was gay. What is important is that he was a convincing actor, sometimes terrific and sometimes just good, depending on the part, the writing, and the direction. And yes, great with Douglas Sirk. No, he was not Cary Grant, NOBODY was, but he was a classy light comedy actor as well. He certainly carried himself at the end with dignity and class. RIP Rock!


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