With his iconic roles in Magnificent Obsession and Giant, Rock Hudson gained a huge fanbase during his early Hollywood career. In the mid-’80s, he took only a few acting parts as he faced health issues in his private life away from the public eye. Keep scrolling to find out what happened to the actor.
What Happened to Rock Hudson?
Hudson was born Roy Harold Scherer Jr. on November 17, 1925. He changed his name after meeting Hollywood agent Henry Wilson, who also represented Tab Hunter, Robert Wagner, Rory Calhoun and more young talents. Wilson had a mission to mold Hudson into his ideal image of a movie star.
“And then, you have to groom the person to match the name, as it were,” All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson author Mark Griffin said of Hudson’s name change during a June 2023 appearance on CBS Sunday Morning.
The Illinois native’s breakout roles came in the ‘50s as he shared the screen with Jane Wyman in 1954’s Magnificent Obsession, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean in 1956’s Giant and three films with Doris Day. As he achieved a new level of stardom, rumors began swirling about Hudson’s love life and sexual preferences.
Was Rock Hudson Married?
In 1955, the Pillow Talk actor married Wilson’s secretary Phyllis Gates. They were together for three years before divorcing in 1958. In the ’60s, Hudson secretly dated stockbroker Lee Garlington.
“We couldn’t take any pictures together, it was too dangerous,” Garlington told People in December 2018 of their relationship. “We could only take pictures of each other.”
The pair vacationed together in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in 1963. Their time spent together is something Garlington still continues to cherish.
“I remember how handsome he was and what a great time we had together,” Hudson’s former lover continued. “He was the kindest man I ever met.”
What Was Rock Hudson’s Cause of Death?
On July 25, 1985, Hudson’s team announced in a statement that the Academy Award nominee had AIDS. He was first diagnosed with the disease one year prior and informed his previous sexual partners of his illness.
“He had several lesions of Kaposi’s sarcoma that established a diagnosis. Little was known about HIV and AIDS then,” Dr. Michael Gottlieb, Hudson’s physician, told People in October 2015. “There wasn’t much we could do. Within a week he prepared several letters to past sexual partners. He wanted them to know they’d been with someone diagnosed with AIDS. He didn’t reveal his identity. He said, ‘I want to do the right thing.’”
Hudson died on October 2, 1985, from complications related to AIDS at the age of 59.
“He proved it’s possible to overcome any challenge in your life,” Griffin said of the late star. “Somehow, through his own resilience and persistence, he stayed true to his goal. He overcame obstacles and challenges that would have defeated anybody else. In some respects, I’ve come to think of Rock as superhuman.”