Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed (2023) - full transcript

The biography of renowned actor Rock Hudson is examined in this relevant investigation of Hollywood and LGBTQ+ identity, from his public "ladies' man" character to his private life as a gay man.

We were sitting at the pool

just sunbathing and talking.

I was a young gay man who was

questioning all kinds of things.

We talked about being gay in Hollywood

and how difficult
it was to have a career.

And I asked him how he knew
that he was gonna make it,

because I wasn't sure that I ever would.

And he told me about a dream that he had.

He dreamt that there was
a perfectly cut diamond

sitting on velvet

in a room that was lit with pin spots.

And every one of the lights

were pointed into the center
of the diamond.

He thought he was the diamond.

He said, "That's the dream

"that made me believe
that I could do this.

That's how I knew
I was gonna be a star."

- Your name is Roy Fitzgerald?
- That's right.

Well, come up on our stage, young man.

This is your life!

Come along here.


You see, folks, this young man,

whose name really is Roy Fitzgerald,

is known to you and to movie
fans all over the world as...

Rock Hudson.
Was he the cat's pajamas!

Pleased to make your acquaintance, ma'am.

Well, Rock was an icon.

You couldn't take your eyes

off Rock on the screen,
you really couldn't.

Not only was he

the biggest star at Universal,

he was by far the
biggest star in Hollywood.

There was that period
where he was the king.

The Tom Cruise of his day.

Women were swooning, men were swooning.

Rock was everybody's type.

You couldn't invent a name

that was better for a heterosexual
leading man than Rock Hudson.

Not only did women say,

"That's the man I want to marry,"

many men said, "That's
the man I'd like to be."

He was like a granite facade,

just impenetrable.

He was a great performer,

not only in acting, but in life.

Why aren't you married, Jordan?

He had more than one world.

He had the studio world.

He had this gay world.

- You'll come?
- I'd be delighted.

Well, good-o, sport!

I thought I was
the last man in California

to go to bed with Rock Hudson
when I finally did.

He was a sort of sexual gladiator.

The lash for you, betrayer of women.

He was closeted,

but there was every reason
to be closeted back then.

If the truth had come out, that
would've been the end of his career.

It's as simple as that.

The public perception of Rock

was so very masculine and straight.

Privately, he was very free.

- He loved to laugh.
- He was also a bit of a devil.

The people that he had around him

were very trusted friends.

I think maybe that's the key.

People loved him, you know?

He was just a decent, wonderful guy.

And that's unusual in Hollywood.

I hate to say that, but it's true.

He was a quiet man.

I think the thing I most remember
him for were his silences.

It was... if he were always
listening to something inside.

Some voice.

He never talked about it, so...

I never knew what it was.

Oh, he was a good man.

He lived as if he were a stranger here.

I mean, he never let anything touch him.

Became absorbed in things.
His job mostly.

He worked hard, he...

always a look around
his eyes as if he were

trying to say something.

I don't know what...

protest against what
he'd surrendered his life to.

I never knew what he wanted...

...and I don't think
he ever knew.

Well, I...

guess I can't tell you
much more. Enough?

Should be going.

Rock Hudson died peacefully
in his sleep from AIDS,

the first well-known person
to publicly acknowledge

his struggle with that fatal disease.

He signaled this catastrophe called AIDS,

but Rock was an activist
without knowing it.

Since AIDS is primarily a disease

associated with homosexuals,

talk of Hudson's lifestyle has surfaced.

They needed someone
to say that he was gay,

and the story would be told,
and I didn't want it to be told

in the way that the people
in Hollywood wanted it told.

This is an interview
with actor Rock Hudson

taped in his home
in Beverly Hills, California,

on August 24th, 1983.

Well, I'm wondering, first of all,

how an Illinois boy like yourself

became interested in acting.

I wanted to be an actor all my life.

That has always hypnotized me.

Did you have acting training as a boy?

No. I could never freely say,

"I'm going to be an actor
when I grow up."


Because that's sissy stuff.

You oughta be a policeman or a fireman.

So I never said anything.
Kept my mouth shut.

Nor did I enter in the drama
society or anything like that.

I had to work all the time,
so I couldn't do

any form of extracurricular activity.

I had to make a living for myself.

And then I went in the Navy
in World War II

and went back home for a summer,

and I thought, "This place is not for me.

Now is the time
to do what I want to do."

I did know one person in Los Angeles,

my father.

My parents divorced,

and so he was living out here.

So I came out

and stayed with him.

It was very difficult for me
to make friends out here.

Then I got to know

a guy who was an older brother

of a guy I was overseas with.

And it was one of those things,

"If you're ever in Los Angeles,
look me up."

So I called him and he said,

"Come on up
for Sunday dinner."

So I did, met his brother,
who lived in Long Beach,

who used to be a radio producer.

He began inviting me down

to his place down in Long Beach.

We became best friends.

Kenneth Hodge was my uncle.

A man of the arts.

Somebody that really loved
to help people.

It was never, ever spoken of

that, you know, he might be gay.

I'd never heard that word
at that point in time.

Being gay was considered,
you know, a neurosis.

It was just a subject that,
uh, that was off the table.

Rock was just getting out of the Navy

and hadn't been into the pictures yet.

So Kenneth was really enthralled with him

and was sort of "love at
first sight," I think for, for Ken.

They were very much lovers.

Kenneth had a big Hollywood job.

He was a director in radio,
and he had a good network.

He had plenty of people
to introduce Rock to,

and he helped facilitate
some of Rock's early career.

He suggested that
I get some pictures taken

and send them around to agents.

I said, "What's an agent?"

Now I'm Midwestern hick.
Please understand.

Not knowing anything at all.

Anyway, I had one response, that's all.

And that was Henry Willson.

Is that right?

Rock was very ambitious.

He got scooped up with a big-time agent

who really accelerated Rock's career.

And from what I know is,

he kind of dropped Ken on the spot.

I think it ended really abruptly.

I never really saw my uncle
in love again.

And I think Rock broke his heart.

And the fella sitting next to
you in the audience down there,

there's the man who gave you that name,

your good friend and personal
manager, Mr. Henry Willson.

Henry, stand up, please,
let the folks see you.

Matter of fact, uh, Henry discovered Rock

and fostered his rapid rise in pictures.


In the '40s, Henry Willson went to work

for David O. Selznick
right after David O. Selznick

"Gone With the Wind."

Henry and Rock met at a party

that this boyfriend-agent
of Rock's took him to.

Rock realized, "I'm going with the guy

who's the head of talent
for Selznick Studios!"

So Rock was one of his first clients,

and there were dozens of other men

who have been completely forgotten,

who had crazy names
like "Race Gentry."

You only have to look
at the silent movies,

where you would have
these men like Ramon Novarro

or Rudolph Valentino.

And they were considered
way too effeminate

by the late '30s.

As we come out of World War II,

our icons, particularly in the movies,

become more butch.

A more masculine man

in the stereotypical way took over.

There were all these
photographs of soldiers and sailors.

And so that kind of upped the ante of

this macho quality that
people wanted in a movie star.

And so the physique became more important

and you had more taking off of the shirt.

And that's where Henry
Willson really came in.

He groomed the male stars

to be more butch, frankly.

And he did it with,

you know, a number of these guys

who were ex-soldiers and sailors,

and Rock Hudson was one of them.

- You are divine.
- I know, but I'm in training.

So then I started

going to class
and going to diction lessons,

learning how to lower my voice,

learning how to horseback ride,

learning anything I could,

'cause something within this
Midwestern hick stupidity of mine

told me that if you're
gonna do something, do it,

and do it the best you can and learn.

I knew that, at least.

Henry Willson was very shrewd in knowing

that if there is even
a trace of effeminacy,

whether it's a giggle or a flutter,

that that's going to read on screen.

He showed them how to do their hair,

what to wear, all of that.

You know, he was a real grooming school.

He taught them how to be heterosexual.

So, Kathleen, I wanted to begin by asking

about the screen test
that you appeared in with Rock.

Oh, yes.

I was just wondering, had you met Rock

prior to appearing in the test with him?

No, I hadn't.

What was your initial impression of him?

Well, he was certainly very handsome... question of that.

And he was very pleasant, very nice.

Honey, I'm gonna tell you something.

You can believe it or not,
but it's the truth.

The last winter of the war
over in Germany...

He did not appeal to me
as a man or as a date.

He was very nice, but I...
there was no spark.


I was under contract
with Universal Pictures.

And then I was with them 17, 18 years.

Universal in those days,
it was a wonderful studio.

They took care of everything
for the actor.

The house you live in,

the shopping, your meals, a cook.

It was all done for you.

So that the only thing you had to be
concerned about was your performance.

See that little glint of fear

in his eyes, the insecurity?

Rock and I had both been signed

to be under contract to Universal.

One of the things that we had to do

after we were all under contract was

be a part of a theatrical presentation

for all the studio heads
and producers and agents.

And he'd never been on the stage before.

And, and I saw that he was
physically out of control.

He was just, he
was very much like a child

and just shaking visibly and perspiring

and looked like he
couldn't stand on his feet.

And I embraced him, and I
held him like I was his mother

and tried to infuse
some strength in him, courage.

But he was so frightened.

My best friend at the time,

who was also under contract, Susan Cabot.

Well, she was always telling me

how madly in love with him she was.

And she told me that he took
her home to meet his mother once.

She was really hoping to end up with him.

And I had already heard that he was gay.

And I said, "Um, I don't
think it's gonna happen."

"Oh, yes, yes.
It's just got to happen."

Well, it didn't happen.

I can't marry you.

Why not, darling?
Why not?

For a moment, I, I forgot what I am.

There's a womanizer

and Henry Willson was a manizer.

And he was pretty straightforward about,

"Well, I'll sign you
and you'll sleep with me,"

and there was even kind of
negotiations that went on,

and he quickly
gained a reputation for it.

And young, good-looking men went to him

using their sex to be signed by him.

They knew what they were doing.

I don't think, when it came to sex,

Rock was ever innocent by
the time he arrived in Hollywood.

The next time we saw Roy
was over a week later,

only you wouldn't know
it was the same man.


In 1951, Henry Willson

introduces his most
promising client, Rock Hudson,

to an aspiring actor named Bob Preble.

Soon these two eligible
bachelors are living together

in a one-bedroom house
off Mulholland Drive.

"Photoplay" magazine
publishes this article,

and we're allowed
to peek through the window,

as it were, into Rock
and Bob's private sanctuary.

What's being depicted is almost
sort of like this marital intimacy.

And yet every effort is made
to portray Rock and Bob as like

wholesome all-American boys.

Preble later admitted
to some quote, unquote,

"experimenting" with Rock

when they were roommates.

But "Photoplay" magazine
would have us believe

that the only reason these
two hunks are living together

is to save a buck.

Look, baby, there's no strings on me.

I do what I like.

And the same thing goes for you.

And we got music.

In 1951, Rock meets
fellow actor George Nader

and Nader's long-term partner,
Mark Miller.

And for the next 34 years,

this trio is virtually inseparable.

The bond is forged through,
you know, things like

a similar sense of humor

and this tendency towards mischief.

There's also this shared
misery of the closet.

There are countless lovers,
short-term boyfriends,

and weekend flings that pass
through Rock Hudson's life.

But the friendship with Nader
and Miller endured.

Ain't he the sweetest
player you ever saw?

He is not.

I think that Hudson was regarded

as a big, strong, handsome guy.

And the natural instinct was to put him

in a lot of cheap adventure films.

It took time for the studio to see

that what they really had there

was a subtler actor

than they ever guessed.

Johash! The horses!

Yes, here they are,

those wild and wonderful '20s,

the years of speakeasies and hot jazz.

- Will I see you tonight?
- You bet, Millie, 8 o'clock.

- There's a good... Yes, sir.
- A double bromo.

One double bromo.
There's a good movie...

I personally felt
that part was beneath him.

I thought he was miscast.

You know, he was a 6'4" hunk,

and to be playing lines

that belonged in a teenager's mouth.

Watch me!
One strawberry surprise.

I just thought it was beneath
him, and he was a good sport.

Did you know that
in the drugstore scenes, uh...

Is it the young Jimmy Dean?

Yeah, yeah. He was
sitting at the counter.

Nobody paid any attention,
nobody knew him then.

Two scoops of vanilla ice
cream, one mixed up with the rest.

And, uh, one floating.

Film producer Ross Hunter,

who not only is one of the most
successful producers in town,

but one of the best liked.

I believe in, you know, authenticity,
real flowers and real paintings.

And there's a million dollars'
worth of jewels here tonight.

The studio asked,
"What would you like to do?"

And I said, "Well,
I would like to do something

"that I believe is very much
needed in this industry,

and that is
to bring back glamor."

So I said,
"Let's do some love stories."

I only can say I smelled something

interesting in the film.

Something which
I would call metaphysical.

You know, it's very strange
knowing you only like this.

So well, it seems, and...

and yet...

I've never seen your face.

The studio thought my ideas were crazy.

I told them that I believe strongly

in a man called Rock Hudson.

And I would like to be able

to use him as the young man
in "Magnificent Obsession."

He's a good-looking, clean-cut man

that young people all over the world

will fantasize about.

Oh, I'm so glad you're here.

You must have known
how much I need you now.


Ross Hunter is kind of

the one that clues into the fact

that Rock is Prince Charming.

You know, let's put him in some

glossy romantic melodramas.

That proved to be the winning formula

for the beginning of Rock's career.

I love you, and I wanna marry you.

Oh, the picture was probably

one of the biggest moneymakers

that Universal had ever had.

Rock Hudson became a star,

just on account of this film.

Based on votes of moviegoers
all over the nation,

most popular actor of the year.

Rock, take another bow.
Take another bow.

Take a bow, just take a bow.

- Aren't you Mrs. Ricky Ricardo?
- Yeah... Yes.

- Well, I'm Rock Hudson.
- Oh, yeah.

Well, I know that.

W ell, this is the second year in a row

that Mr. Hudson has been
picked by "Modern Screen"

as most popular actor.

Top honors for a top star.

But I'd be running away if I turn
my back on everything I've known.

Ron. Isn't it enough
that we love each other?

No, Cary, it isn't.

Sirk is German.

He's making these movies

as an outsider about our American values

and kind of poking holes in them.

Their lives were worlds apart.

Cary's world was bound
by the country club set,

their smug pretensions
and their spiteful gossip.

Ron's world was boundless.

The great outdoors, the things that grow

and real people who give and take

all that heaven allows

of love and happiness.

Sirk created a signature style,

which is, it's so beautiful,

but if you look underneath the surface,

under the white picket fences,

you're gonna see how torrid
and ugly everything is.

- Howard, you're drunk.
- Why, Cary!

Isn't one man enough for you?

Maybe you'd better stay
right where you are.

Rock Hudson is just a...

a perfect example of a male Adonis,

but he's also sensitive,
well-rounded guy.

You know, he's not strictly
a sex object for Jane Wyman.

He was the perfect man
for women of that era

that maybe were trapped
in lonely marriages

with insensitive, unfeeling men.

Look, Mick, I told her that I love her.

I asked her to marry me.
I can't force her.

She has to make up her own mind.

She doesn't wanna make up
her own mind, no girl does.

She wants you to make it up for her.

Come on, let's go.

Rock Hudson is playing
a man called Rock Hudson,

who is the personification of Americana.

The identity was given to him...

...and he slipped into it and he
played it for the rest of his life.

This is the biggest thing
that's ever happened to you.

- Yeah?
- Yeah.

That's why it was such a hurry
for me to get over here

and clean up your image.

What's wrong with my image?

You make it sound like I've just
been named Leper of the Year.

Well, you know
the mentality of that board,

they're hipped on the idea
of a corporate image,

solid American gentry,
family respectability.

For their top executives, there are
not 10 commandments, only one:

"Thou shalt be married,
happily and respectably married."

- Whether you like it or not.
- That's right.

From now on you're gonna have a new look.

No more gay married bachelor.

It's got to be Carter Harrison,
family man.

♪ Maybe I'm right ♪

♪ And maybe I'm wrong ♪

♪ Maybe I'm weak ♪

♪ And maybe I'm strong ♪

♪ But nevertheless ♪

♪ I'm in love... ♪

By the late 1950s,

Rock Hudson had really arrived.

Rock's great popularity as a matinee idol

poses this significant problem

for his handlers and studio executives.

On the screen, he's wooing women

like Jane Wyman and Piper Laurie

and the fans are really eating it up.

But he's nearly 30 years old

and he's sort of suspiciously unmarried.

♪ ...with you ♪

In the days when you
were working with Rock,

the fan magazines like
"Photoplay" and "Modern Screen"

started to print articles

in which Betty Abbott was described

as "Rock Hudson's best girl."

Oh, I know.

We would laugh our heads off.

I mean, it was publicity.

I mean, we knew
what they were trying to do

and we'd sit there and laugh it off.

♪ A life of regret... ♪

No one cared what
you really did in Hollywood.

It's just as long as you played along

and you presented a facade to the public.

So living with another man is
not kind of playing the game.

Playing the game is getting married.

♪ But nevertheless ♪

♪ I'm in love ♪

♪ With ♪

♪ You ♪

It's about time
you got hitched, isn't it?

No, I...

I have trouble enough finding oil.

Enter Phyllis Gates.

Not only is she
Henry Willson's secretary,

but she's really heaven sent.

It's like direct from central casting

to play Mrs. Rock Hudson.

In November of 1955,

Rock and Phyllis are married

at the Biltmore Hotel in Santa Barbara.

The ceremony took place only eight days

before Hudson's 30th birthday.

And not surprisingly, Henry Willson,

the omnipresent, tended to every detail.

Though he does stop short
of joining the newlyweds

when they honeymoon in the Caribbean.

I tend to believe that it was arranged,

that Henry Willson paired off
an essentially gay man

and a woman rumored to be bi
or gay herself.

Both participants may have
agreed to play house

in the name of keeping
Hudson's career blazing.

Oh, it was totally engineered by Henry.

You know, and the, the thing
that was such a joke about it

is that Rock didn't look any further

than his agent's secretary.

In some ways, Rock is
the most successful creation

of that golden age of Hollywood,

the last of those
really manufactured stars

where every aspect

of what we think to be their private life

has been built by other people.

I like to lean upon a director,

and if I can't lean on him,
I'm rather lost.

And I am forced to rely on myself.

And that's not a comfortable feeling.

When the opportunity came for you to work

with George Stevens, what was your...?

Oh, well, scrape me off the ceiling.

I mean, the thrill of a lifetime for me.

But it was really
true what everybody said,

make yourself a piece of putty
and put yourself in his hands

and rely on him.

George Stevens is one of those classic

American filmmakers,

and no story I know is
as big as "Giant."

It spans so many decades.

It spans so many sensibilities.

Just the photography alone
is so magnificent.

I've probably seen "Giant"
hundreds of times.

I lost one friend I had in this place

and I know it too.

So I quit. I'm dead quit.

Don't have to say another word to me.

Nobody's firing you, Jett.

What kind of memories
do you have of James Dean?

George used Jimmy because
Jimmy was new and hot.

- Mm-hmm. Yes.
- Hot-hot.

I didn't particularly
like him, personally.

- Would you excuse me?
- Sure.

I'm wanna go get a pack of cigarettes.

According to some accounts,

James Dean was
rather disdainful of Hudson.

Dean considered it hypocritical

that Rock was maintaining
this hetero facade in public

while privately hitting on Dean,

if we're to believe the rumor mill.

Some might say that that's a case
of the pot calling the kettle black.

You know, it's pretty well
documented that early in his career,

James Dean was kept
by a gay radio executive

who was indeed friends with
Rock's agent, Henry Willson.

If you're talking
about shrouded sexuality,

they weren't all that different.

While we're talking about James Dean,

I don't know whether you had
anything else you wanted to...

As I say, I didn't like
the fella too much.

I don't know as I should say any more.

Uh, Jimmy was dead
before the picture was over.

- Yes.
- I don't like to talk against anybody.

And I don't like to talk
against the dead.

- Mm-hmm.
- So I think I should shut up.

Yeah, all right. Okay.

Where do you think you're
going with my automobile?

Just hold on.

Hudson has definite negative
feelings about James Dean,

but those feelings are sharply contrasted

with how much he loved and
cherished leading lady Elizabeth Taylor.

I'm a tough Texian.

It never ceases to amaze me
about Rock Hudson,

how fully he gives himself

to these heterosexual romances.

I mean, that scene when
they wake up on the train,

they've been fucking from
Maryland all the way, you know,

to Texas, and I believe it!

What's that? A wolf?

No, honey, just a little old coyote.

It's no secret that
throughout her whole life,

Elizabeth Taylor had many
close friendships with gay men.

Echoing her role in "Giant,"
Taylor often gravitated

toward social outcasts or misfits.

We became close friends.

We are close friends today,

and I think she is
one of the best people.

That kind of loving bond between them,

the soulmate connection, if you will,

becomes all the more important
later in life.

George Stevens had complicated characters

and he cared about those
characters within society

in a way that's different
from how Sirk did.

Now look here, Sarge.

I'd sure appreciate it if you were
a little more polite to these people.

Oh, you would, would you?

By the end of that movie,

Rock Hudson is our American hero

because he's inclusive
and he's a feminist,

and then he's got grandkids
that are mixed.

Those kids in their infinite wisdom

are smarter than we are.

That's America, you know, to me.

So he is America.

Sure, even the calf's got my number.

In Hollywood, a new high
for glamor is reached

as Warner Bros. premieres
George Stevens' production, "Giant."

Rock Hudson and his charming wife Phyllis

expressed their happiness
about the brilliant premiere.

- Hey, Sugar!
- Yes?

Here is a guy that's
as big as Texas in "Giant."

- It's such a performance.
- Rock Hudson.

Hello. How are you?
Nice to see you again.

- Nice to see you again.
- I wanna meet your wife. Hello.

So nice to meet you, Phyllis.
You wanna step in here?

I never heard such screams in my life

as when you got outta the car tonight.

Well, you received

an Academy Award nomination for the film.

Mm-hmm, so did Jimmy.

Is that right? I'd forgotten.

The nominees for best actor are:

Yul Brynner in "The King and I,"

Rock Hudson in "Giant,"

James Dean in "Giant,"

Kirk Douglas in "Lust for life,"

and Sir Laurence Olivier
in "Richard III."

The winner is Yul Brynner.

Boy, it is really sad to me that he lost

because it's such
a tour de force performance.

When do you get that chance again?

He did not.

I wanted to be a Western movie actor.

So I landed in Hollywood in 1961

and realized that I was kind of pretty,

but, uh, what I didn't realize was

I didn't have any talent.

Fortunately, when I
finally got with Rock,

I realized I really
didn't want to be an actor.

I didn't want any part of that business.

Uh, yes.
I remember very well.

I got a job at Universal Studios,

and I wanted to see what he looked like.

So I went over beside his cottage,

and he walked out
and walked down the street,

and he turned and looked back.

And, of course, I was...

He was incredible.

He made a big splash,
let's put it that way.

And I got a phone call
from someone on his staff.

Did I want to come up
and visit with Rock Hudson?


I wasn't gonna say no.

What is there to talk
about, my dear husband?

Judith, please.
You're in no condition...

Divorce. That's what you
wanna talk about, isn't it?

Well, let me tell you right now,

my gallant, silent suffering
spouse, you'll never get one!

Our marriage was a mistake.
Yours as well as mine.

Was it? You didn't think so when you
thought I could make a gentleman out of you.

Well, you married me and
you're going to stay married to me.

So sneak around back alleys
if that's the kind of man you are.

I doubt that I could stop you.

When he was on location

for the epic remake of
"A Farewell to Arms,"

Rock's marriage
to Phyllis began to fall apart.

You're going down to town tomorrow

and find yourself
some gay young playmate.

- I don't wanna be with anybody else, I tell you.
- Yes, you do.

Three years after she exchanged

marriage vows with Rock,

Phyllis files for divorce.

Phyllis complained
that he was always away.

Well, hello. You're married
to a major movie star

who's shooting films in exotic locations.

She really took him to the
cleaners when she divorced him.

He lost practically everything.

He had a sailboat
that was his pride and joy,

and he had to sell that to pay her off.

And, uh, he was really angry about that.

In a memoir published
two years after Rock's death,

Phyllis claimed that

she was entirely duped,

manipulated into participating

in this sham marriage with Rock.

And she claims she had
no idea that Hudson is gay,

which is really hard to swallow,

given the fact that virtually
every bit player, makeup man,

assistant gofer at Universal,

knew the score about Rock Hudson.

How did she possibly miss the memo?

It's just kind of inconceivable.

Colonel Farr.

I thought we could get together,

have a cup of coffee, maybe,

uh, get acquainted.

We might find we have a lot in common.

I'm on my way.

♪ Pillow talk ♪

♪ Pillow talk ♪

♪ Another night
I hear myself ♪

♪ Talk, talk, talk, talk ♪

Look, I don't know what's bothering you,

but don't take your
bedroom problems out on me.

I have no bedroom problems.

There's nothing in my
bedroom that bothers me.

Oh, that's too bad.

"Pillow Talk" seems very tame now

by comparison with, um,
today's more explicit standards.

We almost didn't do it
because it was too dirty.

So that's the other end
of your party line.

It was fun and, and, and it was fluff,

and it was wonderful
to look at, and you laughed.

I'm so sick of seeing the ugliness.

We all know it's there.

I don't hide my head in the sand

and say that it's not there.

But I believe that motion
pictures are an escape.

What a marvelous-looking man.

I wonder if he's single.

I don't know how long I can
get away with this act.

You know, the deception

is an interesting artifact of the times.

You have a gay actor
playing a straight man

impersonating a possibly gay man.

It's a house of mirrors.

Tell me about your job.

Must be very exciting working with

all them colors and fabrics and all.

In those Doris Day movies,

he's always pretending to be gay

in order to get Doris into bed.

That's the joke always.

Why can't you get married?

That's the sort of thing a man

doesn't discuss with a nice woman.

That was almost a device

to keep anybody from asking
questions about him.

Ye gods, you've got cold feet!

Complaints, complaints,
nothing but complaints!

It was kind of an evil gag, actually.

And I hold Ross Hunter
largely responsible for that,

the producer of those films.

I know for a fact
that Ross Hunter was gay.


What are you doing here?

Where am I?

Why, this is Jerry Webster's apartment!

Nothing was ever talked about

as far as his private life.

Many, many people would ask me,

you know,
"Is Rock Hudson really gay?"

And I said, "It's something
that I will not discuss."

I mean, first of all, I know
nothing about his private life.

And if I did, I wouldn't discuss it.

Look at me.

I can't.
I'm too ashamed.

Forget me, Carol.

You deserve a man, not
a mass of neurotic doubts.

So I can't tell you one thing about
him except that he is a nice man.

You're tearing yourself apart!

Mr. Allen.

Let's try to be adult
about this and work out

some sort of schedule where I can...

It's funny when I see him

smoking in that movie,

it was so him, because he chain smoked.

It's like he's not even acting.

Mark and George were

really good friends with me

and my partner, Al Roberts,

and that's how I met Rock.

And we, we just really

hit it off because

I didn't treat him like a movie star.

I... We were just cool friends.

Our social life with him
was very private.

I mean, we didn't go out to restaurants.

We would go to Rock's house.

It was called "The Castle."

It was breathtaking.

It looked like a hacienda.

You just felt so welcome
when you came to that home.

The house was very casual.

It wasn't stiff.
And that's how he was.

He was very, very casual.

And then, of course, when he'd come
to Laguna, it was really, really fun too.

I think he could breathe
a lot easier in Laguna.

And because Mark and George had
a home here, he did come down a lot.

The gay beach was to the
left of the lifeguard tower.

And it was magical because you
could play volleyball on the beach

and just without a shirt on,

just step up into the bar

on a hot summer Sunday

and have a beer,

and it was very erotic.

Yeah, I mean, like big time.


Do you love me, Mitch?

Like a brother.

I don't want you as a brother.

Can't be any other way, Marylee.

Don't... please don't...

waste your life away waiting for me.

You have the movie magazines

propping up this fantasy

that everyone is straight and
looking for love and marriage,

while the tabloids are
obsessed with homosexuals

and trying to dig up
as much dirt as they can.

This, of course, was during
the era of J. Edgar Hoover.

So there's an obsessive
interest in anything homosexual.

Policy of the department is

that we do not employ
homosexuals knowingly.

And that if we discover homosexuals
in our department, we discharge them.

Given all that was going on
in Rock Hudson's private life,

it's not surprising that the
FBI was keeping a close watch.

The lieutenant wants
to ask you some questions.

Like where you've been
spending your evenings lately,

staying out till three
and four in the morning.

There was this catchphrase

about "Confidential" magazine:

"They trade in nymphos,
pinkos, winos and homos."

And it's got a subscription base

of three million at that point.

It's got a huge readership.

"Confidential" started
to move in on Rock Hudson

and Henry Willson certainly
did not wanna lose

this golden goose.

They say that there was this tradeoff

where Tab Hunter, who was indeed

a Henry Willson client, was offered up


to save Rock Hudson.

"Confidential" printed a story

about Tab Hunter being arrested

at what was called
an "all-male pajama party."

That kind of salacious exposé

could wipe out an entire career.

We being followed?

Probably not,

but the general always
goes on that assumption.

It really is a miracle that Rock Hudson

never got caught by the tabloids.

Well, you know, I never met Rock.

Uh, he died in October of '85,

and I came into Lee's life in May of '86.

Rock took that photo in the early '70s.

That's completely in a different era.

We enjoyed traveling together.

He drove the management
at Universal crazy

by taking off, he and I,

without telling them where he was going.

And they really got upset,

and he just said, "Screw it, I'm
gonna do what I'm gonna do."

We spent some time in New Orleans

and the Ford Motor Company lent him

a brand-new convertible.

And we had a blast in that car.

We were in Pat O'Brien's

where they have a special
drink, the Hurricane,

and somebody came by
and snapped a picture of us.

Then they offered the picture
for sale, of course,

and we got it because this was
the only picture of both of us together.

We were ordered by Henry Willson,

that evil agent of his,

never to have our picture taken together

because somebody would see it

and know that we were gay.

Yes, that was a lot of sneaking around.

We'd drive up to a motel.

I would go in and ask
if there was any rooms.

Did you get, let's say, two single beds

or one... queen-size bed,
pardon the pun?


Don't remember.

Uh, but, uh...

it ended up by being one bed.

There should have been, but there wasn't.

There was a part of him
that was very straitlaced

and understanding
of the previous generation.

He never mentioned,
"Gee, wouldn't it be nice

if we could just
hold hands in public?"

He was so inured of, uh...

being closeted

that he never mentioned it.

Forget for a moment that I'm your doctor

and, uh, let me give you
some advice as a friend.

Marry him.

So, what good was your noble sacrifice?

If you'd loved him,
you'd have gone to him.

Let's face it, you were
ready for a love affair,

but not for love.

Oh, my darling!
Oh, my darling.

Are you having another nightmare?

Uh, no, I, I...

I'm sort of, I don't know.

We have to talk about
that thing called image, uh,

whatever that is, uh...

and I sort of represent

a comedy image

in dinner jacket or something, you know?

It might be a lot of fun
to do a horror story.

I'd love to.




Rock Hudson, in
an astonishing change of pace,

stars in "Seconds."

It's certainly, uh,
a different type of picture

and certainly a different role for me.

It's almost a horror movie,

certainly a suspenseful movie,

and certainly very dramatic.

Rock Hudson as a man who
buys for himself a totally new life,

a chance to begin again.

Every man's dream since time began.

Bandages are removed.

I think you'll be more than pleased.

In fact, I expect you to be
prancing around here like a stud bull.

Good work.

Well, I tend to think
that Rock Hudson understood

that in some ways this film was
reflecting the whole Hollywood star trip

and how he had been
completely transformed

and marketed for the public.

Uh, that couldn't have been lost on him.

There's never a time
that I don't feel at home

in a performance by Rock Hudson
except "Seconds."

All right, son.

He's so uncomfortable.

There is a real shadow side
here that he's playing.

The years I've spent

trying to get all the things

I was told were important,

that I was supposed to want...

and California was the same.


made the same decisions for me

all over again.

And they were the same things, really.

Hey, John, why are they
staring at me like that?

They know.

They know what?

They're like you.

Oh, Nora!

Hudson's performance is astonishing.

Is Rock Hudson kind of
decoding himself on screen?

Yeah, it certainly looks like it.

It's a weird thing to make your living

creating characters.

It's weird from my side of the camera

and it must be even weirder
on the other side

because I think there is
always a sense of like,

"Who am I really?" You know?

Somewhere in the man,

there is still a key unturned.

In order to become Rock Hudson,

he really had to destroy Roy Fitzgerald,

the gay boy with an inferiority
complex from Winnetka.

But even if millions of fans
are believing the lie,

Roy Fitzgerald still knows
the truth about Rock Hudson.

Wait a minute, what's happening?

When "Seconds" first
came out, it was trashed.

Nobody wanted to see
Rock Hudson depressed.

What's really sad to me
about Rock's career

is that the audiences

don't like it when
Rock Hudson steps out of,

kind of, the way
that they prefer to see him.

They don't want to see him do
anything radically different.

Being an actor,

there are so many
disappointments and frustrations,

and you think, "Hell,
what am I doing all this for?

I'm gonna hop the next freight
out of town," or whatever.

You get blue and you get whatever.

And I think that because of that,

I think "this too shall pass"
works for me.

"This too shall pass"
is a great consolation,

I mean, in terms of what, crises
or adverse reviews or anything?

Yes, anything negative.
Any, you know...

I was born in Iowa,

and then I came to
Los Angeles and never left.


Well, I went to my first gay bar.

It was in, uh, Long Beach at a drag bar.

I didn't particularly like
the drag queens,

but I sure liked the fact that
there was somebody in this world

that was gay besides me.

How did you meet Rock Hudson?

I don't know what year it was,

but one of my best friends
brought him over for dinner.

We played bridge all the time.

We, uh, did a lot of things together.

I took trips with him and we went skiing.

I watched "Giant" more times
than I care to remember.

Those were good times
that can't be repeated.

I felt closer to him than anybody else.

If you say,
"Who's your closest friend?"

I mean, his name would
come out first, I think.

Tab Hunter was a good friend of mine,

but he wasn't very social.

He didn't like a crowd,

but it didn't bother Rock.

At that time, nobody lived openly.

He wanted to.

I ran a hospital laboratory, you know.

I can walk into any place
and nobody knows who I am,

but he couldn't do any of that.

That bothered him.

Well, he had boyfriends.

They were mostly young and pretty,

and showed huge baskets.

I don't recall him ever
having a very long relationship

with anybody,

other than friends.

- Yeah.
- Oh, okay.

Rock had a sizable dick,

but he tried to put that thing up my ass

and I couldn't do it.

For a while, you had
the whole field to yourself.

- For a while you were the...
- I did?

- Oh, yes.
- Did I?

Oh, yes, yes.
Am I right?

There was only, you know,
Rock Hudson, pant-pant...

And a lot of "ugs."

You know, the Pacinos and the
strangies were coming up, and then...

Well, you know what I'm saying.

You don't say my, you know, "I wanna
be on a desert island with Al Pacino,"

you know, we'll talk, but, um...

Does it ever upset you when you're
in something like the "Enquirer"?

Uh, no.
I don't read it, so...

I read it all the time.
You're always in it.

- Am I?
- Yeah.

First, I had asked him whether the press

had ever really hurt him,
and it was interesting.

He said, "Yes, it was a terrible
review I received in London."

I said, "You mean
that was the worst thing

that the press has
ever done to you, Rock?"

And he said, "Yes," and I remember

it was very difficult for me
to face, look into his eyes.

And I said, "Could you explain to us

what happened between you
and Mr. Jim Nabors?"

In 1971,

a couple of gay guys said,

"Wouldn't it be fun if
we sent out these invitations

"to a fabricated wedding

between Rock and 'Gomer
Pyle' star Jim Nabors?"

And the tipoff that this is like
an over-the-top gay Fantasia

is that Truman Capote
would be officiating

and Liberace would be providing

the musical accompaniment.

And the story starts
to spread like wildfire.

The story lands on the front page

of the "National Examiner."

Now I've read some pretty
weird things about you

in the fan magazines.

Uh, have you ever filed
a libel suit for anything

that's ever been written or said
about you? Have you wanted to?

And why didn't you?
I've always wondered.

Because it calls attention
to it and only makes it worse.

Aside from the McCarthy era
nonsense that went on in the '50s,

I think that this was
one of the worst stories

that ever emanated from a community.

He has never done a bad thing to anyone.

It would be terrific to say the guy is

"you know what," but he is not.

What's funny is tabloids
aren't leaking a story

about one of Rock's
real gay relationships.

They're leaking it
about a completely fabricated

and fantasized one.

March 1st, 1974.

- Rock, how are you?
- I'm fine.

Haven't talked to you
in a very long time.

I know it. I know it.

- And you've been busy.
- Yeah.

My friend would like very much
to meet you one of these days

if you have some free time.

Tell me about him.

He works at Paramount and he's, uh...

- oh, 6'2", I guess, something like that.
- Yeah.

And he works out, just an
all-round good boy, you know?

- Uh-huh.
- So I just thought I'd drop you the note

and see if you did want to
say hello to him, because, uh...

- Yeah. Well...
- He's just a damn fun boy, you know?



How's the equipment?

Well, the equipment is about, oh,

about nine inches, I guess.

And he's, he's, uh, very good

- in that department too.
- Yeah.

- When's coming some free time for you?
- Well, most any day.

Well, my friend, I'll get on the
horn and give him your number.

And nice talking to you.

- All right, thank you.
- Bye-Bye.

Mr. Maupin, you are, um,

a well-known writer here
in this, uh, Bay Area.

You have written, um, regular
columns for the newspapers.

Your books have been published.

I guess you'd call yourself a gay writer.

I'm a writer who is gay.

My ability to write, for instance,

about a heterosexual romance

increased considerably after
I was willing to acknowledge

the nature of my romantic involvements.

I met Rock when he came to San Francisco.

He was up doing something
with "McMillan & Wife:...

...and he invited
a bunch of us

to come up to his suite at the hotel.

And at a certain point, he rose and said,

"I have a little reading
I want to do."

And he read the first chapter
of "Tales of the City"

to the assembled crowd.

It was Mary Ann, the newcomer in town,

telling her mother that she
was gonna live in San Francisco.

And her mother freaks out and says,

"Well, you can't, but I was just watching

"'McMillan & Wife' last night,

and the place is running over
with serial killers."

- You all right, Commissioner?
- Yeah, I'm fine.

Is this the gun he used?

That was so bizarre.

You can imagine, McMillan
himself was reading this to me.

You know, he could have been
a little less drunk

when he read the thing,

but, uh, he was somewhat slurred,

but it was Rock Hudson reading my work.

I think he sort of expected it
to charm the pants off of me.

And, uh, it more or less did.

We got up to the Fairmont
Hotel, the Diplomat Suite,

and Rock led me into the living room

and we're sort of
at each other right away.

And, uh, every movie I'd ever seen
him in was playing before my eyes.

You know, I really
was not up to the task.

I think that's the best way to put it.

In an effort to console me, he said,

"You know, I'm just
a normal guy like you."

And I said,
"And I'm Doris Day."

I saw him off and on after that

from times he would come
and visit in San Francisco,

or he'd invite me down to
"The Castle," as they called it.

And, uh, the friendship kind of grew

over that period of time.

But I never considered him
boyfriend material

or he me, for that matter.

We were playmates.

And that was fine with me,
just the way that worked.

I had a bee in my bonnet at the time.

I said, "You need
to come out of the closet,

and I'm the guy that can help
you with that.

I'll know how to do that,
not in a sensationalist way."

And Rock listened.
He was really listening to me.

Um, but...

Tom, his partner at the time,

"Not until my mother dies."

Um... and I thought,
"What an odd thing to say."

If I was fucking Rock Hudson,

I would want my mother
to know immediately.

Oh, it's you!
I, I wasn't sure.

Hiding in closets
isn't going to cure you.

Mark and George and Rock,

and Tom I guess, they were
slightly ridiculous to me.

The pride they took in hiding.

I felt like I was a member of a new
generation that wanted to show them,

it doesn't have to be that way.

In the book, I depicted a guy
that was kind of fascinated

by the idea of gay liberation,

but couldn't quite do it himself.

I tried to capture his humanity,

his big, sweet, loving heart.

And I think I did.

I often did that, uh,
with "Tales of the City."

I sometimes put real people
into it with their permission.

I knew he wasn't
gonna give me my permission,

so I just did it and blanked out the name

in the Victorian tradition.

I'm so glad I did, actually,

because I established
that character in the books

before Rock died,
saying, this person exists,

but he can't show you who he is

because his life is shut off in this way.

Hey, Freddy, you're really
gonna love San Francisco.


I want you to know you can
change your mind at any time.

Ah, don't worry about me, baby.

I've been missing the ring.
I'm ready for a little action.

That about does it, Commissioner.

Yeah, sure does.

- Thanks.
- You're welcome, sir.

- See you in the shower.
- Okay, baby.

I probably wasn't wearing a bathing suit.

I was working a lot all through the '70s

in various gay rights issues.

And I was the point person

for international and national media

who came to San Francisco
to do stories about gay rights.

Fairly early on in having
met Rock, I suggested that,

"Maybe you'd like to go out
and to a sex club."

"Oh, well, of course."

There was no hesitation.

Like, "Are you sure?
No, I shouldn't..." No.

So there was this place
down on Sixth Street

called The Glory Holes.

And so we go in and we walk around

and sort of explain how it all works.

And there was a balcony

that you could go up above

and look out over the whole enterprise.

You can see all the traffic
around the aisleways.

And so we watched Rock
walk around and go in a booth

and you could hear this scream,

"Oh, my God,
it's Rock Hudson!"

And it went all throughout the place.

It obviously didn't bother him
because we didn't leave,

and we stayed, stayed quite a while.

I think he became so
comfortable with the dual life,

but I think that he found a way
to be comfortable with both lives.

- You've gotta tell them the truth.
- Do you know what'll happen?

I know it'll mean you'll lose your job

and your customers and everything, but...

you've got to do that.

Once you start fooling people,
you have to go on

and keep on fooling them and, and...

you're too nice a guy
to, to, to be a phony

and keep on being a phony.

You know, Hollywood at night
can be a fascinating place,

but Hollywood in the daytime
can be a lot of fun too.

Come on, follow me
and I'll show you what I mean.

Rock had a contact.

Somebody in West Hollywood
that could round up

gorgeous men at a moment's notice.

I knew a lot of folks in the community.

I had a lot of friends.

And so I would just call up, you know,

whoever I'd get my hands on
that was available

and say, "Here's the deal,
here's the address,

"show up, it'll be a lovely time,

"and you can have a nice day
swimming and carrying on with drinks,

and you'd get to meet Rock."

Then it would just be chaise lounges

and boys in the pool.

It was clothing optional.

And a lot of 'em, fortunately,
did take the option.

You know, even for
an ordinary gay man like me,

that was an amazing thing to see

all these beauties
gathered around the pool.

If you're gonna have a party
with a bunch of young men,

you want to bring up
the eye candy, if you will.

It was a lot of beefcake,

and it would last all afternoon.

Endless, you know, food and drink,

and Rock sort of just strolling through.

It was theater.

In 1976, I was cast in a play
called "John Brown's Body."

It starred Rock Hudson,
Claire Trevor, and Leif Erickson.

It was a really beautiful mix
of music and dance and vocal.

So that's, you know, that's
how I came to meet Rock Hudson.

Armies of shadows and the shadow-sound.

♪ Captain Ball
was a Yankee slaver ♪

♪ Blow, blow... ♪

He really showed
a lot of people something new,

and it felt good to him
as a performer on stage.

He was really happy.

It was supposed to be
a fabulous big tour,

and we had a lot of cities set,

but, um, some people started
to cancel the production.

I think the people that
wanted to see Rock Hudson

wanted to see "McMillan"
or "Pillow Talk,"

and the people that wanted
to see "John Brown's Body,"

because it was so lyrical in its speech,

wanted Laurence Olivier.

We remained friends
for several years afterwards.

He helped me start a television career

on the last season of "McMillan" in 1976

and changed the trajectory of my life.

You got Big Smokey there?

Uh, here beside me.

"Big Smokey"?

That's you, sir.
It's CB talk.

And he didn't cast me
from a casting couch.

There was only one time that he ever,

um, asked me to possibly be intimate.

And I, I chose, um, the different path.

I was 23 and a lot cuter.

He was fun and then he was elegant,

and, you know, I only saw him
pee in the bushes once.

Hey! What's going on here?



I was one of the members
of the last dying gasp

of the studio system,

which was Universal Studios.

I'll never forget this great
head of the talent department.

She's on the phone, "Darling,
are you sitting down?"

And I said,
"Yes, I'm sitting down."

She says, "Rock Hudson,
you're going to be playing his son."

It was a 10-hour epic mini-series

that they were doing
tons of at that time.

And Rock plays a designer
of automobiles in Detroit.

Dad, I'm telling you,
I can handle this by myself.

I know you can.

I'm proud that you want to.

Even though you knew the rumors,

you still couldn't
erase the false narrative

of that straight leading man.

That was the message
that was given to all of us

growing up in that time,

young men, and certainly young
men who aspired to be actors.

For gay men like me,

there was absolutely
zero permission to be gay.

It was just not going to be allowed.

So I carried that with me.

Well, the time has come.
You've seen the map.

Reagan is our projected winner.

A sports announcer, a film actor,

a governor of California.

We have projected
Ronald Reagan the winner.

Did you ever think a few years ago

that Ronald Reagan, fellow
actor, would be president?

I mean, is that,
an actor being president?

- No, I, I didn't.
- Pretty amazing, huh?

Yeah, it's terrific, as a matter of fact.

Well, Rock was a Republican.

I can't believe it, but he was.

Yeah, but that was a different
generation Republican.


Uh, he was a Republican primarily because

he was friends with Nancy Reagan.

Apparently pretty close friends.

But she couldn't get Reagan
to say anything about AIDS

until finally at one point he gave in.

But that was after...

- That was after he died, I think, right?
- After he died.

The Centers for Disease Control

reports that six gay men in Los Angeles

have fallen ill from a strange
and mysterious pneumonia.

Scientists at the National Centers
for Disease Control in Atlanta today

released the results of a study,

which shows that the lifestyle
of some male homosexuals

has triggered an epidemic
of a rare form of cancer.

Researchers are now studying

blood and other samples from the victims,

trying to learn
what is causing the disease.

So far, they have had no luck.

Rock, can you believe the
things that are happening today?

Oh, it's pretty crazy, all right.

I mean, the way everyone
dresses, the lifestyles,

the, the new morality.

Yeah. Maybe we're
getting old.

Look, Rock, if you can't
say anything constructive...


I'm getting old.

That's constructive.

When you consider Rock Hudson's

overwork, stress, chain smoking,

the alcohol intake...

- You wanna smoke a cigarette?
- Yes.

Why do you wanna smoke a cigarette?

It's not good for you, but
you can smoke a cigarette.

- You want a lecture?
- Yeah.

- Okay. You got it.
- I'm thinking of quitting.

- And then you'll do it?
- I have to quit.

All of that results
in quintuple bypass surgery

in 1981.

I don't know if I could ask
everybody to let us see your scar.

But I don't think that's
the right thing to do.

You're looking really terrific.
When are you going back to work?

I think around mid-January.

By 1982,

we saw how devastating

AIDS could be for a person,

how people developed

one infection after another

and kind of just wasted away,

in front of us.

And it was very frightening.

There was little happening

in the way of a public response.

There was no money available
to do research.

You are raising the possibility

that people are dismissing it because
it strikes mostly the gay community?

There is no question in my mind,
if this were happening to you

and the white, straight,
middle-class community,

it would've been
attended to a long time ago.

There was all this conservative
religious overtones

in the Reagan administration

where evangelicals
had elected Ronald Reagan

and in his cabinet were people

who essentially said,

"Do nothing."

By this time, Rock
had made a lot of money

working in television.

He was loaded.

But old friends Mark
and George, not so much.

George Nader had glaucoma
and had stopped acting.

So Rock hired Mark Miller
to be his personal secretary.

That not only rescued
Nader and Miller financially,

but it would also guarantee that his
closest friends would remain close.

And of course, through all of
this, Nader is keeping his diaries,

which are a veritable gold mine

of eyewitness accounts.

Thursday, May 31st, 1984.

Mark called at 7 a.m.

Something seriously wrong!

Nancy Reagan sent photos
from the dinner party

with a note saying that
Rock must have that pimple

on his neck checked.

It showed up in the photos.

Otherwise, the photos
are great of Nancy, Ronnie,

and Rock at the dinner.

Rock back to Beverly Hills.

Mark insisted that Rock

go to see the doctor immediately.

He agreed.
Mark made an appointment.

Let me begin with the latest
figures from Los Angeles County.

Today they show 56 new cases of AIDS

diagnosed here locally last month.

That brings the national total
now to about 10,000 cases

cases of AIDS.

Tuesday, June 5th, 1984.

Mark called and asked me
to note the time and date

of all of the following:

At 2:25 p.m., driving Rock
home from the doctor's,

he was told by Rock that Rock
has AIDS and possible cancer.

A lymph gland in his neck
had just been removed.

Around 6:30 p.m.-ish,

I dialed Rock at The Castle and said,

if there was anything at all,
let me know.

He said, the only thing was silence.

I said, "Of course," and thought,

"Who in the hell am I gonna
call and talk about it to?'"

Are you the big macho type
that nothing's gonna get?

No, not at all.
Not at all.

I am, I have, like everybody
else, weaknesses and strengths.


one of the strengths,
I suppose, perhaps stupidly so,

is that I will not be sick.

I will not be dependent
upon anybody else,

and I simply won't have it.

In 1984,

I was asked to see

a celebrity patient,

Rock Hudson, and determined
in fact that he did have AIDS.

I guided him as best I could
and sent him to France

to participate in a clinical
trial of an antiviral drug.

Most people are born gulls
and judge a man by his dress.

We live in a world of phantasmagoria,

false forms and false faces.

Each man wears a mask
against his fellows.

Well, have you nothing to say?

Aye, gimme a light.

Rock Hudson was in a different league.

I always liked him.

He seemed to fulfill all
the dreams that, you know,

I would have for a star.

When the time came to find

a person to play opposite Linda Evans,

I thought about Rock Hudson.

So I and my publicist,
we flew to Paris to meet him.

I hadn't seen him for a few years.

He might have been five
pounds thinner, I don't know.

But he seemed incredible.

When he turns on that smile,
it's unbelievable.

He met us and I had the script.

I just wanted him to read
the script and say yes.

And then he said, "Well, why don't
we have dinner?" So I said, "Okay."

So we went with him,

and it was the most marvelous night.

He was so energetic
and he went from restaurant

to bar to restaurant.

He kept drinking more and more vodka

and he got bawdier and bawdier.

And I thought, "Oh, my God,
is this ever gonna end?"

He held out that whole night.

I mean, you have no idea
what it was like.

And at 2:30 in the morning,
he said,

"I read the script and I
loved it and I will do it."

This winter finds Hudson on
location with ABC's "Dynasty."

You've said before that you
really didn't have any interest

in coming back to doing
series television.

What did "Dynasty" offer
that made you reconsider that?

Well, I'm not on every week,

and, uh, uh...

it's a good show, obviously.

I mean, it's, uh, very popular
all over the world,

so why not to do six or so shows?

So, for six or so shows,
nobody's saying exactly how many,

Rock Hudson is playing
the role of Daniel Reece,

a sophisticated horse breeder
with romantic designs

on Krystle Carrington.

I think he's a divine actor.

He's wonderfully romantic.

He's a lovely man.

Well, they told us they had

some superstars they were
gonna have on the show,

which we thought, great, this is fun.

I, of course, was thrilled

because I did
a "McMillan & Wife."

How do you do, Commissioner?

Nicole, what a lovely name.

And I thought, how fantastic

to be able to work with him again.

But he was so much thinner

and didn't look like he felt good.

I think he even said
he'd been traveling a lot

and he inferred that, you know,

"We've all been away on a trip

and caught something

So I went, "Oh, you know,
life does that to us."

And, uh, that's about as much
as I thought about it.

Wednesday, December 19th, 1984.

"Dynasty." Rock's debut.

Merry Christmas, Krystie,
it's good to see you.

Did well, but looked bad,

very bad in a couple of shots.

I'm here to return this.

How dare you come back
into my life after what you did.

Cameraman could have helped
more with lighting,

I think, but perhaps no time.

Tuesday, February 5th, 1985.

Tonight "Dynasty,"

and we get to watch Rock
give Linda Evans a dose

of some virus in a kissing scene.

I will tape the fateful footage,

if not too frozen in horror,

akin to watching someone
receive a possible lethal injection.

You look more frightened than I was...

Morally, how guilty are we

for not having said something
to someone, anyone?

Rock returned from work the
day they shot the kiss scene

and said to Mark, "This has
been the worst day of my life.

"I used every possible type
of mouthwash known to man.

An awful day.'

He also said, "I kept my
mouth closed and so did she."

When we had that scene
we had to do with the kiss,

that was a pivotal moment.

We showed up that day and shot that scene

and it didn't turn out like they wanted.

Nobody quite knew what to do.

I mean, I knew he could
deliver that kiss.

It's not up to me to say anything.

And I let the director handle it,

and we did it over and we did it over.

And he did it consistently.

It makes me cry because
I know he was protecting me.

I mean, I didn't know that at the time.

I was confused at the time.

But in thinking back,

part of the reason that I get so upset

is that he was doing
everything he could do

to make it all right for me, in case.

'Cause nobody knew
in those days about that.

Touches my heart.

Even now, when I think about it.

Saturday, April 6th, 1985.

The three of us drove through Joshua Tree

where Rock had never been before.

On the way there, the old
song "Mockin' Bird Hill" came on.

♪ Tra-la-la twittle-dee-dee-dee,
it gives me... ♪

We all roared with laughter.

Thirty years before, the
song had been our favorite,

and we sang it in unison
with the singer on the radio.

♪ Tra-la-la
twittle-dee-dee-dee ♪

♪ There's peace
and goodwill ♪

♪ You're welcome
as the flowers ♪

♪ On Mockin' Bird Hill... ♪

By the time we finished the song,

we were all in tears.

Mark and I knew for sure

Rock had come down to the
desert on Easter to say goodbye.

Even if we see him again,
this is still it.

A farewell.


I love my roses!

Well, hiya.

I am thrilled that you
are gonna do my show.

- I am too.
- You're my first guest.

- Is that right?
- Very first one.

'Cause you're a very special guest.

Well, I am delighted about that.

The public started seeing

a major decline in his appearance.

That's when we began
to understand what it was.

Even we thought it was AIDS.

All right, how did you know?

I saw his hand.

- What did you see?
- The beginning of a lesion.

Softness of tissue.

That could have been
anything... yaws, psoriasis,

the beginning of any ordinary skin rash.

What made you so certain?

I just knew, that's all.

- You mean you guessed.
- No, I knew.


Thursday, July 18th, 1985.

Rock exhausted and
really downhill and a mess.

"He looks awful," Mark says.

Mark broached subject of Paris,

got Rock to listen.

Rock heaved a sigh and said,

"Well, okay, I guess I'd
better go back over there."

Just what is wrong with Rock Hudson?

Tonight, the 59-year-old actor

remains in a Paris hospital
undergoing tests,

but the nature of his illness
has become clouded

in mystery and confusion.

Yesterday, it was reported that Hudson

had liver cancer and possibly AIDS,

but today the hospital
denied the cancer story

and said nothing about the AIDS rumor.

A spokesman just said Hudson was tired.

At that point, I don't know what degree

Rock was actually making decisions,

but Ross Hunter was still saying

Rock had anorexia
and a lot of feeble excuses.

After collapsing at the Ritz,

Hudson is rushed to the
American Hospital of Paris.

And at that point, it's determined

that Hudson could be better cared for

at a nearby military hospital.

So Rock's publicist, Dale
Olson, sends a telegram

to Reagan's press secretary,

in which he explains that
time is running out for Rock.

And Percy Hospital will not admit him

because Hudson isn't a French citizen.

Would the White House
be willing to intervene?

Nancy Reagan declines.

You know, I think that non-responsiveness

to the personal plea from the publicist

encapsulates the entire
Reagan administration's

non-responsiveness to the epidemic.

His hands will be stained
forever with innocent blood.

Nothing. He looks wonderful,
I must say.

- Did he talk to you?
- Yes, he did.

- What did he say?
- He said, "How are you?"

I said, "I'm fine."

Thursday, July 25th, 1985.

Big day in Paris, France.

The orchestrated ruination
of Rock Hudson's life.

I was sent to his room

to read the statement
and have his approval.

And that's one of the
weirdest things I did in my life,

because I know that if Rock
would've been strong enough

to decide not to tell the world
that he had AIDS, he would do it.

He looked at my eyes and, uh, he say,

"That's what they want, Yanou.

Go and give that
to the dogs."

Mr. Rock Hudson has Acquired

Immunodeficiency Syndrome...

...which was diagnosed

over a year ago

in the United States.

Mark watched and listened from a lounge

and sobbed all the way
through Yanou's statement.

When it was over,
he went up and told Rock.

Rock said, "God, what a way
to end a life."

Is this what you call news?

You know what I call it?

I call it the dead facts.

The dead facts strung together

by a deaf-dumb-blind editor!

After three days of confusion

at the American Hospital in Paris,

a spokesperson for Rock Hudson...

...American actor
Rock Hudson...

...American Hospital
in Paris, France,

for treatment of
an inoperable liver cancer...

I've got the story.
I've got it in my aching heart,

and you want to know how I got it?

By crawling through dirt and filth

and muck and smut.

By finding truth and beauty

where you'd never expect to find it.

Another case of AIDS has been confirmed,

affecting the most well-known victim yet.

He forsook all earthbound vanities,

home, family and love.


Because deep down he knew

that a man without blood in his veins

has got to fall down sooner or later.

Actor Rock Hudson has AIDS,

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

I feel empty.


I just feel dirty.

I feel unclean.

Filthy business we're in.

Time will wash it clean.

Who knows how much time there is left?

I do remember, uh, when
I first came to New York,

I was walking through Greenwich Village

and I passed a newsstand
and the headline said,

"Rock Hudson has AIDS."

And it... I absolutely,
I stopped breathing.

I will never, ever,
ever forget that moment

of just, this can't be.

It was everything
kind of wrapped up in one.

It was Hollywood and the closet

and the fact that Rock

had lived his life not able

to express who he was.

And it had come to that.

It scared the shit out of me.

It made me terrified

of contemplating
being out in the gay world,

and, um, that, I think,
delayed my coming out.

What's the shocking reason

Rock Hudson hid his tragic illness?

Why has the news terrified
his "Dynasty" costars?

- Inquiring minds want to know.
- I want to know.

There were, to my shock,

people on the set

who wouldn't come into the
makeup room when I was there.

There were people

who wouldn't work with me,

and so they had to change scenes

because I might have AIDS.

I had personal friends

who wouldn't come over to dinner.

I mean, people went into fear.

Tremendous fear.

I was never afraid I would have AIDS,

no matter what they printed,
what science they told me.

I thought, "Where's your humanity
or where's your compassion?

You know, what's wrong
with this world right now?"

The moment it was announced

that Rock had AIDS,

the hospital had only one concern:

get him out of the hospital.

They didn't want to have any
connection, the hospital, with AIDS.

It was terrible, you know.

The only concern was,
"He must go out of here."

And I start to call the airline

to book to fly back to LA.

And as soon I was giving
the name of the traveler,

the answer was, "We don't
take AIDS people on board."

And that's why I had to rent a plane,

a 747, for $250,000.

It was his money, and it was the
only way to bring him back home.

I was made so aware of the silence,

this huge, loud silence regarding AIDS,

how no one wanted to talk about it,

no one wanted to become involved.

Uh, certainly no one wanted
to give money or support.

And it so angered me that
I finally thought to myself,

"Bitch, do something yourself."

I started work with Elizabeth
in June of 1985

for the Commitment to Life event.

When Rock Hudson announced his illness,

the demand for tickets


He made

an incredible difference

in our ability to raise money.

Once his condition became public,

the Hollywood community
rallied around one of their own

and they turned out
for a benefit to raise money

with which to combat AIDS.

A personal message from Hudson was read

by actor Burt Lancaster.

"I'm 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."

Just last week,
Hudson himself contributed

$250,000 of his own money

to start a new foundation
for AIDS research.

It's tragic when anybody gets sick,

but his announcement was

the most profound thing

that had happened at that point.

He put a face to it.

He made a lot of people realize

that anybody could get this.

It helped destigmatize a disease.

It's hard to say

that he saved anyone
because no one was saved.

Everybody died.

I'll tell you one thing Rock
Hudson's announcement did do,

it gave people hope.

Because they were hopeless.

He got the diagnosis.

I was totally shocked.

Famous people don't get sick,

uh, in my world of fantasy.

I called up there and said,

"I want to come see Rock
before he passes."

And I was told, uh,

"Rock is not capable
of knowing who you are

"and you are better remembering him

in a better time."

And in a sense, that was true.

So I did not go see him, uh...

And I wish I had.

I feel very guilty for not going up

and holding his hand one last time.

What is it you think we saw, Captain?

The face of the devil?
A lost soul? The sinner?

That's the word, isn't it?

No, I didn't mean that.

Why not?

Let's call a sinner a sinner.

We're all sinners, aren't we, Captain?

Sinner or saint, isn't that the choice?

AIDS is primarily a disease

associated with homosexuals.

Talk of Hudson's lifestyle

has surfaced.

Hollywood columnist Rona Barrett.

At no time did Rock Hudson

ever flaunt his alleged homosexuality.

Rock was going

to die of AIDS, and then

the story would be told,

and I didn't want it

to be told in the way that the...

the people in Hollywood wanted it told.

So they think I'm a traitor.

I told you I'd be better off dead.

No man is better off dead, my friend.

They needed someone
to say that he was gay.

Nobody would say he was gay,

which was interpreted

at the time, amongst gay men,

as a sign of loyalty to someone.

But it wasn't for me.

I had to make the decision
at that point in my life.

Uh, I'm supposed
to tell the truth about this.

So I did an interview saying,

"Of course, he was gay.

"Everybody in Hollywood knew it

"and it has to be said.

And he was a lovely guy."

I stressed that.

"And anybody who acts shocked by this

"should just get over themselves

"because many, many people
have died already

who were lovely guys."

Everybody had to learn
at that point in history.

People had to learn how
to behave about this subject.

Like grownups, you know.

This lamp isn't working now.

It's cold and it's dark.

All the parts are there.

It's a perfect light, but...

It's just not turned on.

Right. But if I turn the switch
and establish contact,

the bulb will draw power from
the powerhouse down at the dam

and it'll do what it was meant
to do, which is to make light.

All right, so you're saying that
people have a sort of powerhouse too.

Right. And when you establish
contact with that,

you can do what you're meant to do.

You can fulfill your destiny.

The knowledge that this man,
this beautiful, handsome man

that everyone had loved, had AIDS,

changed things completely.

It's when I approached him
about coming out, uh,

six or seven years earlier,

I said, "You'll make a difference in
how people perceive gay people."

Well, goodbye, and thanks for everything.

Actor Rock Hudson died today at age 59

after a year's struggle
against AIDS disease.

His staff said he passed away
peacefully in his sleep

at his home in Beverly Hills.

So he's dead.

Yes, we tried everything.

It's just a very sad day.

Don't be afraid.

Think of life as a shadowy place,

crowded with people who
can't see each other very well.

Don't block this. Get
outta here. Get outta here.

Get outta here.
What kind of people are you?

Don't you have family that you love?

Would you like this to happen
to them or to you? Get outta here.

Think also of a door, just beyond.

When that door opens...

we pass through

into a wonderful brightness.

When did he go, roughly?

Early this morning.

I'd say about 8:30,
9 o'clock.

I've gotta go.
Please let me go.

Just a gentle step
from darkness to light.

From darkness to light.

Have you anything to say for the fans?

Just that he was the best
friend I ever had in the world

and we sort of grew up
in this business together.

He... I can't.

Oh, it's very important, sir.

And the wind came from the wilderness...

and it carried me where man
can never reach alone.

We lost a lot of friends.

I would say 150,

200, um, friends.

It was horrifying.

Oh, it was terrible.

All we did do is go
to funerals and fundraisers.

Government funding of AIDS research

has increased $70 million

in the year since Hudson's death

and private fundraising
for all AIDS organizations

has tripled.

His passing was
incredibly profound for me.

And when I got home to LA,

I went to the Gay Men's Health Clinic

and I tested positive.

I was alone

and scared

and didn't know how to process it,

in 1985 when everybody,

all of my peers, you know,

people were passing constantly,

and of course I felt like
I was going to pass as well.

But I started to live my life in a way

that I would say...

live life as fully as possible.

And I don't know how
I survived or why I've survived.

And I keep asking God
every day, you know,

what do you want me to do?

What, what is there left
for me to do before I leave?

And I'm waiting to find out.

Is there anything you fear
in this life at all?

Or the next one, I suppose?

I don't think so.

I used to, but I don't anymore.

And it's a very comforting
feeling to not be afraid.

He died the death of a hero

and he deserves our tears.

So throw the dirt gently into his grave.

Take off your hat,

bow your head...

and read kindly his epitaph.

He was seen as the All-American boy.

When the All-American boy gets AIDS,

it's really changed
a lot of people's attitudes.

When he died, longtime
friend Elizabeth Taylor prayed

that he had not died in vain.

Art lives on forever.

Unless we find a cure for AIDS,

there will be no forever.

And we will find it.

We will find it together.

He pretty much did change the
course of history around AIDS.

He didn't intentionally do it,

but there was no other star that
made that kind of impact before.

There hasn't been one since, really.

It is beyond your power
to change the face of destiny.

Outside this place, there's a great evil.

Men speak of hatred
and sharpen the knives.

I will make you well

and perhaps your life
will find a new sweetness.

You don't have to prove anything anymore.

You are accepted.

You will be in your own new dimension.

You'll have to go on asking yourself,

what's your dream?

What's your dream today?

There's an old saying:

"Nobody really dies
till he's forgotten."

♪ Barry McGuire
playing "So Long, Stay Well" ♪

♪ Little boy, go ride
the pale horse in the park ♪

♪ Count
the golden butterflies ♪

♪ Stay out till dark ♪

♪ Never mind the grownups
who sing their old song ♪

♪ So long ♪

♪ Stay well ♪

♪ Love was here ♪

♪ And gone ♪

♪ Little boy, you're older,
keep life while you can ♪

♪ Happy days and holidays
so soon escape man ♪

♪ Soon you'll be a grownup
and sing your own song ♪

♪ So long ♪

♪ Stay well ♪

♪ Love was here ♪

♪ And gone ♪

♪ Some other autumn
will right all the wrongs ♪

♪ So long ♪

♪ Stay well ♪

♪ Love was here ♪

♪ And gone ♪