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Rock Hudson (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rock Hudson
Rock hudson tv movie.jpg
Film poster
Based onMy Husband, Rock Hudson autobiographical novel by Phyllis Gates
Written byDennis Turner
Directed byJohn Nicolella
StarringThomas Ian Griffith
Daphne Ashbrook
William R. Moses
Music byPaul Chihara
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producersLarry Sanitsky, Frank Konigsberg
ProducersIlene Amy Berg (supervising producer)
Dennis Turner (supervising producer)
Jayne Bieber (associate producer)
Diana Kerew
Renee Palyo
CinematographyNewton Thomas Sigel
EditorPeter Parasheles
Running time100 minutes
Production companyRevue Studios
DistributorABC Entertainment Group
Original networkABC
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original releaseJanuary 8, 1990 (1990-01-08)[1]

Rock Hudson is a 1990 American made-for-television crime drama film directed by John Nicolella. The story is based on My Husband, Rock Hudson, a 1987 autobiography by Phyllis Gates, Rock Hudson's wife (1955–1958). It is the story of their marriage, written after Hudson's 1985 death from AIDS.[2] In the book Gates wrote that she was in love with Hudson and that she did not know Hudson was gay when they married, and was not complicit in his deception.[3][4] The movie is also based on magazine articles, interviews and court records,[1] including transcripts of the Los Angeles Superior Court trial after which Marc Christian won a large settlement ($21.75 million) from the actor's estate because Hudson had hidden from him the fact that he was suffering from AIDS.[5] Later, Marc Miller (Hudson's secretary) accused the movie of malicious lies.[6] In April 1989, the court award to Christian was reduced to $5.5 million.[7]

In 1989, both ABC and NBC started developing plans for a biography of Rock Hudson, NBC had announced it had commissioned a script, but ABC had already completed a movie.[5] It debuted on ABC on 8 January 1990.[1] NBC later decided not to complete its four-hour miniseries.[6]

A relative unknown, Thomas Ian Griffith was chosen to portray the actor, he is 6 feet 5 inches tall and Rock was 6 feet 4 inches. He had to spend up to three to four hours in makeup to show the older Rock.[5]

The movie was reviewed badly by many critics, attracted only 24% share of the viewing audience and suffered some advertiser defections because of concern over the depiction of Hudson's homosexuality.[6] It placed 29th in the Nielsen ratings for the week ended 14 January 1990.[8]

Robert Iger claimed that research showed that ABC lost $1 million in advertising due to the broadcast of the movie.[9]


The story begins at the conclusion of the Marc Christian trial, former lover of the deceased Rock Hudson, then flashes back to cover a Hudson's life and career.

Truck driver Roy Fitzgerald walks into talent manager Henry Willson's office, wanting to be a movie star. Willson gets the newly named 'Rock Hudson' a one-line role in a war film (1948's Fighter Squadron), which it takes him 38 times to get right. His mother, Kay is not impressed about his new career.

On a film set, Rock meets Tim Murphy and they start a relationship, eventually moving in together. Willson is alarmed by this and urges Rock to meet his new secretary, Phyllis Gates. The two fall in love, much to Tim's heartbreak. Tim moves out, and soon Rock and Phyllis marry. While in this new relationship, Rock still visits gay bars. Phyllis is shocked and they later divorce and he then fires Willson as his manager.

Rock's career begins to decline. On the set of the 1966 movie Seconds, where he plays a middle-aged man who underwent radical plastic surgery in an attempt to recapture his lost youth, Rock gets upset to the point where he has a breakdown. Director John Frankenheimer has to close the set to comfort a crying Rock. Rock then meets Marc Christian; they become lovers, but Hudson does not tell him that he has AIDS. Hudson attempts a secret treatment in Paris, but has to cut it short to appear on Dynasty in late 1984.

Later, long time friend Doris Day joins Hudson for a press conference, where the secret and Hudson are outed. Hudson dies of AIDS, and Christian sues Hudson's estate for putting him in danger.[5][10]


The film includes archive footage of: Doris Day, Rock Hudson, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., James Quinn and Natalie Wood

Critical reception

John J. O'Connor of the New York Times said the film was "a sympathetic treatment of the actor's life and career" and "a generally feasible portrait". He also praised Thomas Ian Griffith's performance as Rock Hudson.[1]

"The great flaw in Rock Hudson is the script." states Rick Aragon of[10]


  1. ^ a b c d O'Connor, John J. (1 August 1990). "Review/Television; The Life, Death and Secrets of Rock Hudson". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  2. ^ Stephen Tropiano The Prime Time Closet: A History of Gays and Lesbians on TV, p. 149, at Google Books
  3. ^ "Phyllis Gates, 80; Former Talent Agency Secretary Was Briefly Married to Rock Hudson in '50s". Los Angeles Times. August 9, 1987. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
  4. ^ Diana Fuss (editor) Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories, p. 287, at Google Books
  5. ^ a b c d Farber, Stephen (7 January 1990). "The Rock Hudson Story Gets Told. And Perhaps Retold". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Letofsky, Irv (20 March 1990). "NBC Drops Rock Hudson Miniseries : Television: Producers and writer of 'authorized' story say the network is basing its decision on lackluster ratings from an earlier ABC movie". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Harold Rhoden Is Dead; in Crash at 66". The New York Times. 24 June 1989. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  8. ^ "'Roseanne' Tops 'Cosby'". The Washington Post. 17 January 1990. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  9. ^ Roxanne Hovland, Joyce M. Wolburg and Eric E. Haley Readings in Advertising, Society, and Consumer Culture, p. 153, at Google Books
  10. ^ a b Aragon, Rick (13 June 2017). "Rock Hudson: The Television Movie". Retrieved 28 August 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 3 December 2020, at 22:42
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