Friends Mark Miller and George Nader, buried together
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Rock Hudson (born Roy Harold Scherer, Jr.; November 17, 1925 – October 2, 1985) was an American actor, generally known for his turns as a leading man during the 1950s and 1960s. Viewed as a prominent "heartthrob" of the Hollywood Golden Age, he achieved stardom with roles in films such as Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955) and Giant (1956), and found continued success with a string of romantic comedies co-starring Doris Day in Pillow Talk (1959), Lover Come Back (1961) and Send Me No Flowers (1964). After appearing in films including Seconds (1966), Tobruk (1967) and Ice Station Zebra (1968) during the late 1960s, Hudson began a second career in television through the 1970s and 1980s, starring in the popular mystery series McMillan & Wife and the primetime ABC soap opera Dynasty.
Numerous film magazines declared Hudson Star of the Year, Favorite Leading Man, and similar titles. He appeared in nearly 70 films and starred in several television productions during a career that spanned more than four decades. In 1956 he was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Giant. Hudson died from AIDS-related complications in 1985, becoming the first major celebrity to die from an AIDS-related illness.
While his career developed, 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 homosexuality. Willson stalled this 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 party in 1950. According to some colleagues, Hudson's homosexual activity 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 later wrote that she dated Hudson for several months, lived with him for two months before his surprise marriage proposal, and married Hudson out of love and not (as it was later reported) to prevent an exposé of Hudson's sexual past. Press coverage of the wedding quoted Hudson as saying: "When I count my blessings, my marriage tops the list." 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.
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After Gates' death, Bob Hofler wrote a biography of Hudson's agent, Henry Willson, titled The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson. He told the Village Voice that Gates attempted to blackmail Hudson about his homosexual activities. The LGBT news magazine The Advocate published an article by Hofler, who claimed that Gates was actually a lesbian who believed from the beginning of their relationship that Hudson was homosexual.
According to the 1986 biography Rock Hudson: His Story by Hudson and Sara Davidson, Hudson was good friends with American novelist Armistead Maupin. The book also names certain of Hudson's lovers, including Jack Coates; Tom Drake; Tom Clark (who published a memoir about Hudson, Rock Hudson: Friend of Mine); actor and stockbroker Lee Garlington; and Marc Christian (born Marc Christian MacGinnis), who later won a suit against the Hudson estate.
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" who 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' 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. Three years later, Nabors would begin a long-term (and, until 2013, secret) relationship with Stan Cadwallader, a retired firefighter from Honolulu and the man he would eventually marry once same-sex marriage was legalized.
Although he was raised Roman Catholic, Hudson later identified as an atheist. A week before Hudson died, his publicist Tom Clark asked a priest to visit. Hudson made a confession, received communion and was administered the last rites. Hudson was also visited by a Pentecostal prayer group.
Following Hudson's death, Marc Christian, Hudson's former lover, sued his estate on grounds of "intentional infliction of emotional distress".
Christian claimed Hudson continued having sex with him until February 1985, more than eight months after Hudson knew that he had HIV. Although he repeatedly tested negative for HIV, Christian claimed that he suffered from "severe emotional distress" after learning from a newscast that Hudson had died of AIDS. Christian also sued Hudson's personal secretary, Mark Miller, for $10 million because Miller allegedly lied to him about Hudson's illness. In 1989, a jury awarded Christian $21.75 million in damages, later reduced to $5.5 million. Christian later defended Hudson's reputation in not telling him he was infected: "You can't dismiss a man's whole life with a single act. This thing about AIDS was totally out of character for him", he stated in an interview.
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