Rock Hudson Biography

Rock Hudson, the quintessential heartthrob of the 1950s and 1960s, was a prominent American actor of the Hollywood Golden Age. With his tall, well-built physique and strikingly handsome looks, he captivated audiences with his leading roles in films like ‘Magnificent Obsession’ and ‘All That Heaven Allows.’ Despite facing initial struggles and being labeled as shy and forgetful, Hudson’s determination led him to a successful career spanning over four decades. From his humble beginnings during the Great Depression to serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Hudson’s journey to stardom was not without challenges. However, his undeniable charm and good looks caught the attention of talent scout Henry Willson, who groomed him for an acting career. Hudson’s first leading role in ‘Magnificent Obsession’ solidified his status as a sought-after Hollywood actor. As his career progressed, he transitioned to television movies and series, leaving a lasting impact on the entertainment industry.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Roy Harold Scherer Jr.
  • Died At Age: 59
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Phyllis Gates
    • Father: Roy Harold Scherer Sr.
    • Mother: Katherine Wood
  • Quotes By Rock Hudson
  • Actors
  • Height: 6’5″ (196 cm), 6’5″ Males
  • Died on: October 2, 1985
  • Place of death: Beverly Hills, California, United States
  • Cause of Death: AIDS-related Illness
  • U.S. State: Illinois

Childhood & Early Life

Rock Hudson, originally named Roy Harold Scherer, Jr., was born on November 17, 1925, in Winnetka, Illinois, U.S. His parents were Katherine Wood, a telephone operator, and Roy Harold, an auto mechanic. He was the only child of his parents. During the Great Depression, his father abandoned the family, and his mother later remarried. His step-father, Wallace “Wally” Fitzgerald, adopted him. Hudson attended New Trier High School, where he developed an interest in acting. However, he was extremely shy and had difficulty remembering lines, which prevented him from being cast in school plays.

Career

After graduating from high school in 1944, Hudson joined the U.S. Navy and served in the Philippines during World War II. He was discharged in 1946. He then moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. Despite facing rejection from the University of Southern California’s dramatics program, Hudson remained determined and worked as a truck driver while trying to find acting opportunities. In 1947, he sent a picture of himself to talent scout Henry Willson, who took him as a client and changed his name to Rock Hudson. Hudson made his debut in the 1948 film “Fighter Squadron,” but struggled with delivering lines. He received training in acting, singing, and dancing to improve his skills. Hudson’s attractive appearance helped him gain popularity, and he was featured on magazines.

In 1954, Hudson played his first leading role in the film “Magnificent Obsession,” which received positive reviews. He was named the most popular actor of the year by “Modern Screen Magazine.” Hudson’s role in the 1956 film “Giant” further solidified his reputation as a dashing superstar and earned him an Academy Award nomination. He continued to be a popular actor throughout the 1960s, primarily known for his roles in romantic comedies. In 1966, he took a departure from his usual romantic roles and acted in the science-fiction thriller “Seconds,” which gained a cult following despite initially flopping at the box office.

In the 1970s, Hudson’s movie career began to decline. However, he successfully transitioned to television and appeared in the series “McMillan & Wife” from 1971 to 1977. He also ventured into live theater later in his career. Hudson’s health began to deteriorate in the 1980s due to his heavy smoking and drinking habits. He suffered a heart attack in 1981 and underwent emergency heart bypass surgery. Despite his health issues, he continued to act.

Major Works

One of Hudson’s most memorable roles was as Jordan “Bick” Benedict, Jr. in the film “Giant” (1956), which also starred Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. The film was a huge box office success and remains one of Hudson’s most notable works.

Personal Life & Legacy

Although it was widely believed that Hudson was homosexual, he never publicly acknowledged it. He dated Phyllis Gates, his agent Henry Willson’s secretary, and married her in 1955. However, their marriage ended in divorce in 1958. Hudson had relationships with several male partners, including Lee Garlington, Jack Coates, and Tom Clark. Hudson was diagnosed with HIV in 1984, and it was announced in 1985 that he was suffering from AIDS. He passed away from AIDS-related complications on October 2, 1985, just weeks before his 60th birthday. In 2002, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.

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