Rock Hudson (November 17, 1925 – October 2, 1985) was an American film and television actor, recognised as a romantic leading man during the 1960s and 1970s. Hudson was voted Star of the Year, Favorite Leading Man, and similar titles by numerous movie magazines and was unquestionably one of the most popular and well-known movie stars of the time. He completed nearly 70 motion pictures and starred in several television productions during a career that spanned over four decades. Hudson was also one of the first major Hollywood celebrities to die from an AIDS related illness.
While Hudson's career was blooming, he was struggling to keep his personal life out of the headlines. Throughout his career, he epitomized wholesome manliness, and in 1955, after several male lovers, he married his agent's secretary Phyllis Gates. The news was made known by all the major gossip magazines. One magazine story, headlined "When Day Is Done, Heaven Is Waiting," quoted Hudson as saying, "When I count my blessings, my marriage tops the list." The union lasted three years. Gates filed for divorce in April 1958, charging mental cruelty. Hudson did not contest the divorce, and Gates received an alimony of US$250 a week for 10 years.
In Gates' 1987 autobiography My Husband, Rock Hudson, the book she wrote with veteran Hollywood chronicler Bob Thomas, Gates insists she dated Hudson for several months and lived with him for two months before his surprise marriage proposal. She claims to have married Hudson out of love and not, as it was later purported, to stave off a major exposure of Hudson's sexual orientation. However, after her death from lung cancer in January 2006, some informants reportedly stated that she was actually a lesbian who married Hudson for his money, knowing from the beginning of their relationship that he was gay.She never remarried.
According to the 1986 biography, Rock Hudson: His Story, by Hudson and Sara Davidson, Rock was good friends with American novelist Armistead Maupin and a few of Hudson's lovers were: Jack Coates (born 1944); Hollywood publicist Tom Clark (1933 - 1995), who also later published a memoir about Hudson, Rock Hudson: Friend of Mine; and Marc Christian, who later won a suit against the Hudson estate.
The book, The Thin Thirty, by Shannon Ragland, chronicles Hudson's involvement in a 1962 sex scandal at the University of Kentucky involving the football team. Ragland writes that Jim Barnett, a local low-level promoter, engaged in prostitution with members of the team, and that Hudson was one of Barnett's customers.
A popular urban legend states that Hudson married Jim Nabors in the 1970s. While Hudson was closeted at the time, the two never had anything beyond a friendship. The legend was originated with a group of "middle-aged homosexuals who live in Huntington Beach", as Hudson put it, sending out joke invitations to "the marriage of Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors". Despite the obvious impossibility of such an event, the "Rock-Pyle Wedding" was taken seriously by some. As a result of the false rumor, Nabors and Hudson never spoke to each other again.