BACKSTORY: Edited from the official Rock Hudson website: Born Roy Harold Scherer Jr. on November 17, 1925 in Winnetka, Illinois. His father, an auto mechanic, left the family when Rock was eight. Rock’s mother, a telephone operator named Katherine Wood, was left to raise her son alone until she remarried Wallace Fitzgerald. Rock took his stepfather’s name when Fitzgerald adopted him, making his name Roy Fitzgerald.
Rock began to pursue an acting career by sending his photo to various Hollywood film studios and taking acting, singing, fencing and riding lessons. He changed his name from Roy Fitzgerald to Rock Hudson so it would be shorter, easier to pronounce, and sound more masculine. Despite having no acting experience, he landed a bit part in the 1948 film, “Fighter Squadron." In the early 1950s Rock began to win more major parts, acting opposite Yvonne De Carlo in “Scarlet Angel” and “Sea Devils,” and starring in movies such as “Magnificent Obsession,” with Jane Wyman. In 1956, Rock starred in “Giant” with James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor, a role for which he won a Best Actor Academy Award nomination. He also acted in a 1957 film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms.” The next year, Look magazine named Rock “Star of the Year.”
In 1955, Rock married his agent’s secretary, Phyllis Gates, with Phyllis filing for divorce only three years later; neither married again.
Rock starred opposite Doris Day in the 1959 film “Pillow Talk.” The pair was so successful in this first film that they worked together in two other romantic comedies of the early 1960s, “Lover Come Back” and “Send Me No Flowers.”
Tthe 1970s brought Rock into a new medium: television. From 1971—1977, he starred opposite Susan St. James in the popular television series “McMillan and Wife.” Rock had a stint on the popular TV series “Dynasty” from 1984 to 1985, during which he announced that he was dying from AIDS. Because he was the first celebrity to publicly acknowledge this, Rock’s illness changed the overwhelming perception of AIDS and brought new attention to the epidemic. Tragically, Rock died of the disease on October 2, 1985 in Beverly Hills, California.
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