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Shortly before Rock Hudson died he decided that his life story should be written in full. Had he nothing else to lose? - "So much bullshit has been written about me. It's time to tell my story. It’s time to set things straight."

Sara Davidson, a journalist and friend of Rock's personal secretary, Mark Miller, was employed to put the story to paper. She started the task o n September 4 1985. Her last interview with Rock was on September 30 1985. Rock died on October 2 1985.

Ms. Davidson was empowered by Rock to interview anyone who he had known who was prepared to talk. Most of them took the opportunity and the result is a portrait of an extraordinarily complex person. She found that nothing Rock had said could be taken at face value. Even if Rock had told the same fact to ten people it might not have been true. Rock loved secrets and conundrums and seemed to enjoy throwing people on a false scent. Often Rock told different friends conflicting stories, and Ms. Davidson found that she had to draw up a scorecard: how many said yes, how many said no? She then considered the sources and tried to ponder the motives. The result of this balancing method is an apparently fair book which gives the writer the opportunity to make his/her own decision.


Rock Hudson was a man full of contradictions. One small example of this was Rock's obsession with needlepoint. Although always concerned to preserve his macho image he had no problems i n needlepointing while on set. Now when was the last time you took out your needlepointing kit while in the office or factory floor?

Despite the fact that so much of Rock's life was a desperate deception for him, he is shown throughout this book to have been a person who on the surface was bright and cheerful even through the toughest times such as when he was battling with alcoholism which badly affected his career in later years. He is also shown to have ben a generous man especially to those that he regarded as family: Joy his housekeeper, Clarence the gardener and James his English butler, and they returned his generosity with absolute loyalty.


A considerable section of the book is given over to discussing Rock’s marriage to Phyllis Gates "the central conundrum of Rock Hudson's life." The debate on this conundrum is ongoing especially in view of Phyllis Gates' recent book "My Husband -Rock Hudson."

When Ms. Davidson interviews Phyllis in the book under review she says "He didn't love. He wasn't even her! I'll bet you that my marriage was arranged by Universal." Rock says that the marriage didn't work because "From that day (the wedding day) … she became the movie star's wife. She had to have a new dress for everything, and she had to have a mink, not a fox.”

Many of Rock's friends contend that he did love and was in love with Phyllis. Sara Davidson concludes that in her opinion "Rock did have genuine feelings of love for Phyllis, and that concern for his career was one of the factors that led him to marry her." I would agree. More than anything else the book shows what a warm, loving, generous and romantic person Rock was. Some would say that he was too nice. So nice that he could never tell an ex-lover to leave. But did this also show an overriding dishonesty? A failure to come to terms with reality and the truth?


If that is the case then Rock redeems himself by having this story told. It is regrettable that it had to be written in such tragic circumstances. However, his last attempt to tell the truth has done immeasurable good to the battle against the popular media's view of AIDS and it has helped greatly funding for AIDS research. We have that to thank Rock Hudson for, and this if nothing else should encourage us to buy the book.

This article appears in Issue 2

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