Depending on your age, Rock Hudson can be one of several things. If you came of age in the 1950’s and 1960’s, he was your matinee idol. Tall, handsome, with dark hair, a strong jaw and a compassionate nature, he was Hollywood’s version of the All-American boy. If you are a member of the LGBTQ or the medical community, he is the first major celebrity to die from HIV/AIDS, putting a face on a disease and a community that in the early 1980’s was vastly misunderstood.
This year, writer Mark Griffin published a new biography of Rock Hudson entitled, All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson.
Born Roy Harold Scherer, Jr in 1925 in Illinois, the future Rock Hudson knew hardship at an early age. His father abandoned his family, his stepfather abused him and his mother was not the most maternal of women. Having an inkling that he was attracted to men at an early age, he learned to hide his sexuality. As an adult, he became the biggest name in Hollywood, but he was living two lives. In spite of the rumors and the potential scandal that threatened his career multiple times, Rock Hudson became the go to leading man for a generation of movie fans.
Containing interviews with colleagues, romantic partners and family members, this book is a must read for any movie fan. It draws back the curtain on the movie star to reveal a man who was deeply conflicted and living in a time when being who you were meant risking everything.
I absolutely recommend it.
P.S. If you have never seen a Rock Hudson film, I recommend that you start with Pillow Talk (1959). Hudson stars opposite Doris Day in what is one of my favorite romantic comedies. Granted, certain elements of the film are dated, but overall, it is a fantastic film.