Tag Archives: Rock Hudson

GAY HISTORY – The Life and Death of Rock Hudson and His Impact on the AIDS Epidemic (November 17, 1925 – October 2, 1985)

In the 1985 Rock Hudson, a leading Hollywood actor, became the first major hollywood celebrity to die of AIDS-related complications.

While his career developed in 1950’s Hollywood, Rock Hudson and his agent Henry Willson kept the actor’s personal life out of the headlines. In 1955, Confidential magazine threatened to publish an exposé about Hudson’s secret homosexual life. Willson stalled the article by disclosing information about two of his other clients. Willson provided information about Rory Calhoun‘s years in prison and the arrest of Tab Hunter at a gay party in 1950. According to some colleagues, Hudson’s homosexual life was well known in Hollywood throughout his career, and former co-stars Elizabeth Taylor and Susan Saint James claimed that they knew of his homosexuality, as did Carol Burnett.

Soon after the Confidential incident, Hudson married Willson’s secretary Phyllis Gates. Gates filed for divorce after three years in April 1958, citing mental cruelty. Hudson did not contest the divorce and Gates received alimony of $250 a week for 10 years. Gates never remarried.

An urban legend states that Hudson “married” Jim Nabors in the early 1970s. Not only was same-sex marriage not recognized under the laws of any American state at the time, but, at least publicly, Hudson and Nabors were nothing more than friends. According to Hudson, the legend originated with a group of “middle-aged homosexuals who live in Huntington Beach” sent out joke invitations for their annual get-together. One year the group invited its members to witness “the marriage of Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors”, at which Hudson would take the surname of Nabors’ most famous character, Gomer Pyle, becoming Rock Pyle.

The “joke” was evidently already in the mainstream by the very early 1970s. In the October 1972 edition of MAD magazine (issue no. 154), an article entitled “When Watching Television, You Can be Sure of Seeing…”, gossip columnist ‘Rona Boring” (a take on then gossip columnist Rona Barrett) states: “And there isn’t a grain of truth to the vicious rumor that movie and TV star Rock Heman and singer Jim Nelly were secretly married! Rock and Jim are just good buddies! I repeat, they are not married! They are not even going steady!”  Those who failed to get the joke spread the rumor and as a result, Hudson and Nabors never spoke to each other again.

Shortly after Hudson’s press release disclosing his illness, William M. Hoffman, the author of As Is, a play about AIDS that appeared on Broadway in 1985, stated: “If Rock Hudson can have it, nice people can have it. It’s just a disease, not a moral affliction.”

At the same time, Joan Rivers was quoted as saying: “Two years ago, when I hosted a benefit for AIDS, I couldn’t get one major star to turn out. … Rock’s admission is a horrendous way to bring AIDS to the attention of the American public, but by doing so, Rock, in his life, has helped millions in the process. What Rock has done takes true courage. Morgan Fairchild said that “Rock Hudson’s death gave AIDS a face. In a telegram Hudson sent to a September 1985 Hollywood AIDS benefit, Commitment to Life, which he was too ill to attend in person, Hudson said: “I am not happy that I am sick. I am not happy that I have AIDS. But if that is helping others, I can at least know that my own misfortune has had some positive worth.”

Hudson, a friend of Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy, made a simple plea to the White House for help to get him transferred to a hospital in France in his greatest hour of need. 

“Only one hospital in the world can offer necessary medical treatment to save life of Rock Hudson or at least alleviate his illness,” Dale Olson, Hudson’s longtime friend and publicist wrote. Although the commanding officer had denied Hudson admission to the French military hospital initially, Olson wrote that they believed “a request from the White House … would change his mind.”

First Lady Nancy Reagan denied Hudson’s the request.

On the morning of October 2, 1985, Hudson died in his sleep from AIDS-related complications at his home in Beverly Hills at age 59, less than two months before what would have been his 60th birthday. Hudson requested that no funeral be held. His body was cremated hours after his death and a cenotaph was later established at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Cathedral City, California.

Hudson’s revelation had an immediate impact on the visibility of AIDS, and on the funding of medical research related to the disease. Among activists who were seeking to de-stigmatize AIDS and its victims, Hudson’s revelation of his own infection with the disease was viewed as an event that could transform the public’s perception of AIDS.

Rest in Peace Rock.

Gay History – November 9th: Rock Hudson’s Beard, The Rose, and SNL’s First Gay Cast Member

November 9th:

1955 – Rock Hudson marries his agent’s secretary to squelch rumors about his sexual orientation. Rumours which were unknown to Phyllis Gates who became Hudson’s wife.  That is of course until Phyllis had hired  private eye Fred Otash who then in turn secretly taped Rock’s and Phyllis’ personal conversations.

Via The Hollywood Reporter:

On January 21, 1958, Rock Hudson’s wife confronted him, demanding to know if he was gay and grilling the actor about a Rorschach test he had taken. “You told me you saw thousands of butterflies and also snakes,” she said “[A therapist] told me in my analysis that butterflies mean femininity and snakes represent that male penis. I’m not condemning you, but it seems that as long as you recognize your problem, you would want to do something about it.” She also complained about “your great speed with me, sexually. Are you that fast with boys?”

“Well, it’s a physical conjunction [sic],” replied Rock, then 32. “Boys don’t fit. So, this is why it lasts longer.”

Added Phyllis: “Everyone knows that you were picking up boys off the street shortly after we were married and have continued to do so, thinking that being married would cover up for you.”

“I have never picked up any boys on the street,” Rock insisted. “I have never picked up any boys in a bar, never. I have never picked up any boys, other than to give them a ride.”

Well we all know how this story ends.

1979 – Bette Midler’s first movie, The Rose, opens in theaters and leads to an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for the Divine Miss M.

The Rose  is the story of a self-destructive 1960s rock star who struggles to cope with the constant pressures of her career and the demands of her ruthless business manager. 

The story is loosely based on the life of singer Janis Joplin. Originally titled Pearl, after Joplin’s nickname, and the title of her last album, it was fictionalized after her family declined to allow the producers the rights to her story.

Bette performed the soundtrack album for the film, and the title track became one of her biggest hit singles.

1985 – Openly gay Terry Sweeney joined the cast of Saturday Night Live.

Sweeney’s run on the show came at a time when there were few openly gay characters or actors on television. For roughly 27 years, there were no other openly gay cast members on SNL, until Kate McKinnon (a former cast member of Logo’s The Big Gay Sketch Show) was added to the cast in April 2012.

 

This Weekend In Gay History November 9 – 10: The Rose, Sandra Bernhard and Baptist Gone Wild

Bette Midler Rose

November 9th:

1955Rock Hudson marries his agent’s secretary to squelch rumors about his sexual orientation.

1979Bette Midler’s first movie, The Rose, opens in theaters and leads to an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for the Divine Miss M

1985 – Openly gay Terry Sweeney joined the cast of Saturday Night Live.

1992 – Approximately 100 people held a vigil outside the home of Chicago’s Roman Catholic Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to protest the church’s teaching that homosexuality is a disorder.

 

November 10th:

1928The New York Times reported that forty distinguished witnesses, mostly authors, appeared in a London court to testify in favor of the lesbian novel “The Well of Loneliness.” The judge refused to hear any of them.

1970 – The Stanford Gay Students Union was formed. It was the second Stanford organization for gay students-a previous organization, the Student Homophile League, was short lived.

1984Chris Smith came out and became the first openly gay member of UK Parliament.

1989 – Republican Lobbyist Craig Spence,  committeds suicide after it was discovered he gave secret tours of The White House and ran a male prostitution ring.  During a lengthy interview at a Manhattan apartment a few months before his death, Spence alluded to more intricate involvements. “All this stuff you’ve uncovered (involving call boys, bribery and the White House tours), to be honest with you, is insignificant compared to other things I’ve done. But I’m not going to tell you those things, and somehow the world will carry on

1992 – On Roseanne, Sandra Bernhard plays the first recurring lesbian character on a sitcom

1992The Louisiana Baptist Convention voted 581-199 to exclude congregations which condone homosexuality. A similar resolution was approved the same day by the North Carolina State Baptist convention.

1992The Portland Maine school committee approved a ban on anti-gay discrimination in public school employment.

1997 – Keith Boykin of the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and California state assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl participated in a White House conference on Hate Crimes

This Day In Gay History Oct 2nd, 1985 – Hollywood Icon Rock Hudson Dies of AIDS

On this day in 1985, actor Rock Hudson became the first major U.S. celebrity to die of complications from AIDS at the age of 59.   Hudson’s death raised public awareness of the epidemic, which until that time had been ignored by many in the mainstream media and by Ronald Reagan and was known as a “gay plague.”

In 1984, while working on the TV show Dynasty, Hudson was diagnosed with AIDS. On July 25, 1985, he publicly acknowledged he had the disease at a hospital in Paris, where he had gone to seek treatment. The news that Hudson, an international icon, had AIDS focused worldwide attention on the disease and helped change public perceptions of it.

Hudson was a friend of Reagan’s and his death was said to have changed the president’s view of the disease. However, Reagan ignored and did not address the issue of AIDS in a major public speech until 1987; by that time, more than 20,000 Americans had already died of the disease and it had spread to over 100 countries. By 2006, the AIDS virus had killed 25 million people worldwide and infected 40 million others.

Gay Camp Classic: Bea Arthur & Madame sing "A Good Man is Hard to Find" And Actually Sort Of "OUT" Rock Hudson – (Video) 1980

Classic Camp from our beloved Bea Arthur as she and Madame get catt and discuss “The Rock” as in Rock Hudson and how he would “never ever take advantage of a woman” (HOW TRUE!) and then finish off by warbling an old Sophie Tucker tune.