Rock Hudson: The Gentle Giant
It's hard to imagine that in October it will be thirty years since Rock left us--also that this year he would have turned ninety.
Robson published my first biography of Rock in 2004, since which time much has happened--not least of all the death of Phyllis Gates, his lavender bride, who at the time imposed restrictions on what could and could not be written about their marriage. Investigations since her death have revealed what a sham this really was. Virtually everything she wrote about it in My Husband, Rock Hudson has been disproved. She really was a nasty piece of work who, along with his manager Henry Willson and the likes of Confidential magazine, made his life a misery by persistently threatening to expose him to the press.
Rock and Freddie Mercury, who socialised together at the Glory Holes and the South of Market Club in San Francisco ~ but only as observers ~ remain the biggest names to have died of AIDS. In the cases of both, it was sheer bad luck that they succumbed to this terrible disease. Though promiscuous, though none less so than their straight contemporaries, they simply did not know of the danger lurking ahead. There was no such thing as safe sex back then because, in their heyday, AIDS was not known. The only thing to worry about was mostly curable diseases. Yet the poison spewed by the tabloids, most especially here in the UK, remains the worst I have ever read.
Just imagine if AIDS had existed one or several generations earlier than it did. Think of promiscuous gay or bisexual stars of yesteryear such as James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Rudolph Valentino, Clark Gable , Ramon Novarro and Cary Grant, to name but a few, and try to work out how many male sexual partners they had between them, and how many male partners these partners had. The same could have happened to them as happened to Rock and Freddie, and the number of casualties would have run into thousands. It does not bear thinking about.
Today, in some circles, the great stars who succumbed to AIDS are remembered ONLY for the way they died, which should not be. One or two may not deserve out pity ~ Liberace, for instance, who denied his homosexuality in the most spiteful, homophobic way by suing a British newspaper. God really did move in mysterious ways with that one. As for the others, I cannot think of anyone that I know in the show business profession--myself included--who has not lost a friend or loved one to AIDS. This book is for them.
Rock Hudson: The Gentle Giant will be published in September.