Who Was Rock Hudson?

Netflix ‘Hollywood’ might be a reimagination of 1940s Hollywood but it does not shy away from revealing some cold truths about an industry that was neck-deep in homophobia, racism, and sexism at the time. The show brings out the struggles of gays who had to live a closeted life in order to get work. Rock Hudson is one such actor shown in the tv series. But the question is: was there any such actor that existed during the time. Well, we have the answer.

Was Rock Hudson a real actor?

Yes, Rock Hudson was a real Hollywood star who rose to fame in the late 50s and was one of the most significant achievements of Henry Willson’s career. He was Roy Fitzgerald when the young war veteran ended up on the door of the talent agent. Willson gave him a new identity along with a makeover that transformed everything about him- from his speech and gait to his teeth- and also helped him learn lines, which he used to be terrible at. Reportedly, in his first role, he took 38 takes to deliver just one line, which is what happens in ‘Hollywood’ when Hudson auditions for ‘Meg’.

When a reporter threatened to out Hudson as a homosexual, Willson handled the situation. This fed rumors about them and Hudson was forced to marry Phyllis Gates, Willson’s secretary, to prove them wrong. However, the union didn’t last beyond three years. After a grand career in movies, he moved to television in later years. By the 80s, his health had started to deteriorate due to heavy drinking and smoking. He suffered a heart attack and had to go through a surgery. But this did nothing to stop him smoking or drinking.

How did Rock Hudson die?

In 1984, he was diagnosed with AIDS, but he kept it a secret from everyone because he wanted to keep working. He succumbed to the disease in 1985 and died in his sleep at the age of 59. The fact that he had died due to AIDS-related complications broke the façade of his heterosexuality. He was cremated, and his ashes were scattered in the channel between Wilmington and Santa Catalina Island. A cenotaph was established at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Cathedral City, California.

Read More: Who was Henry Willson?