Story Behind Rock Hudson's Secret Gay Life with the Man He Called His 'True Love'

Ksenia Novikova
Apr 26, 2019
04:05 P.M.
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Legendary actor Rock Hudson dated Lee Garlington for three years.


In a report by PEOPLE, Garlington recalled how he and the “Magnificent Obsession” actor ended up having a romantic relationship. The two first met in 1962.

Although their romance didn’t last long, Hudson called Garlington his “true love” in a biography.

Publicity photo of Rock Hudson circa 1955 | Source: Wikimedia Commons


“He was the biggest movie star in the world, and the rumors were that he was gay,” Garlington said. “So I thought, ‘Let me get an eye on him.’"

"I stood outside his cottage on the Universal lot, pretending to read Variety, which was probably upside down at the time. He walked out and down the street. He looked back once. That was it,” he added.

Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor in "Giant" in 1956 | Source: Wikimedia Commons


They became lovers a year later after Hudson broke up with his boyfriend.

Garlington recalled: “I’d come over after work, spend the night and leave the next morning. I’d sneak out at 6 a.m. in my Chevy Nova and coast down the street without turning on the engine so the neighbors wouldn’t hear. We thought we were being so clever.”

Rock Hudson leaning against a car in a parking lot circa 1950 | Source: Getty Images



He added that they kept their relationship secret as coming out during their time was career suicide. When they go to movie premieres together, each would bring a female date.

The pair called it quits in 1965, however.

“One of the reasons we went our own way was because in a way I wanted a father figure and he was not strong enough,” Garlington admitted. “Rock wasn’t a real strong personality. He was a gentle giant.”

Rock Hudson on the set of "Giant" circa 1956 | Source: Getty Images



In 1985, Hudson publicly revealed that he had AIDS, becoming the first well-known celebrity to admit to having the disease.

Garlington said the news shocked him. “AIDS killed everybody in those days. I called up the people taking care of him, but they said he was so sick that he wouldn’t know who I was and it was best to remember him how he had been before,” Garlington recalled.

Although their romantic relationship didn’t last long, Hudson called Garlington his “true love” in a biography.

When Garlington read about it, emotion overwhelmed him. “I broke down and cried. I just lost it. He said his mother and I were the only people he ever loved. I had no idea I meant that much to him,” he said.