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Rock Hudson & Jim Nabors Never Spoke Again after They Were Reportedly Seen Getting Married

Junie Sihlangu
Mar 13, 2022
03:20 A.M.
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Jim Nabors and Rock Hudson are both well-known for their impressive acting careers. However, what also stood out was how the pair allegedly got married in secret and tried to hide their sexualities from the media.

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Legendary actors Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors made names by becoming prominent Hollywood actors. However, the two stars hid a secret from the world.

The pair were both gay but hid their sexualities throughout their lives until they were much older. According to rumors, Hudson and Nabors eventually had a secret marriage.

Jim Nabors in a scene from the series "Gomer Pyle, USMC" on September 30, 1964, and the two at the Academy Awards on April 10, 1967, and Rock Hudson, circa 1955. | Source: CBS Photo Archive & Bettman & Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

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However, when the news got out about them, the duo seemingly cut ties. In the following, we look at the details known about their lives, their apparent relationship, and their differing career paths.

When Hudson became an A-list celebrity, he was seen as a hunk who defined manhood at the time. The public only saw a big, tough, and burly man; however, Mark Griffin explored another side to Hudson in "All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson."

ROCK HUDSON'S SECRET LIFE

Rock Hudson during on the set of "Darling Lillies" in Paris, France on September 27, 1968. | Source: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

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According to Griffin, the star was also a gay man who tried being everything people expected from him. Speaking to Griffin, Hudson's adopted sister, Alice Waier, noted:

“He had his family... professional life, and... his private life, and he had to portray a different person in each of those realms. He was a great performer—not only in acting but throughout his entire life.”

Rock Hudson posing in an image in circa 1955. | Source: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

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Hudson's sister also noted how her brother tried to please everyone in spite of himself. In the mid-century, the star suffered from harassment and blackmail attempts as a closeted gay man in America.

Hudson often posed for photographs with female friends like actress Claudia Cardinale to shut down the rumors. The actress told Griffin that they'd always been friends but tried to convince the world they were a couple.

Rock Hudson posing in an image in circa 1955. | Source: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

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One attack Hudson faced happened in Newport when he was with friends. Some excited girls waved and yelled at the star from a nearby boat but caused the actor's male companions to respond jealously, with Griffin writing:

"Suddenly, one male voice loudly yelled out, '[expletive]!'… teenage boys were chanting ‘[expletive]!’... everyone on the beach... joined in. … What hurt most... was that Rock recognized... his own neighbors in the crowd.”

Rock Hudson and his wife Phyllis Gates pose at home in Los Angeles, California, in circa 1955. | Source: Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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According to Meaww, Hudson's co-stars knew about his homosexuality. After dating Phyllis Gates briefly, the star married her in 1955, but a few years later in 1958 she filed for divorce, citing "mental cruelty."

The Advocate published a story claiming Gates was a lesbian and knew about Hudson being gay. After her death, allegations came out that she had been blackmailing Hudson that she would out him.

JIM NABORS' CHALLENGES AS A GAY MAN IN HOLLYWOOD

Jim Nabors in a promotional studio portrait in circa 1965. | Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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On the other hand, Nabors revealed that his "The Andy Griffith Show" co-stars knew about him being homosexual, but Ronny Howard recalled how the crew called him gay slurs behind his back, "And not with any hint of kindness." Nabors shared about his sexuality, stating:

"I haven't ever made a public spectacle of it. Well, I've known since I was a child, so, come on.”

Jim Nabors relaxes over a cup of coffee while at a rehearsal for an upcoming show on September 6, 1965. | Source: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

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Nabors noted that his friends also knew about his sexuality. Speaking about the national debate over gay marriage, the actor shared his personal views noting he wasn't an activist and saying:

“I think every single human being has the right to choose the person they want to spend their life with,” and “That’s not even an argument, it’s just a God-given right.”

JIM NABORS AND ROCK HUDSON'S RUMORED MARRIAGE

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The book "Rock Hudson: The Gentle Giant," which came out After Hudson's death, claimed he and Nabors got married. An ex-Vogue model allegedly told a newspaper that the pair tied the knot in Belgravia, London in the early '70s when she was 15, in front of eighteen guests including her, sharing:

"I'd gone to the wedding with a friend of Rock's, thinking it was going to be a normal one between a man and a woman... [it] took place in great seriousness, as though it was a man and a woman."

Jim Nabors on an episode of "The Rookies" on December 17, 1973. | Source:  ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content/Getty Images

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The rumor was started by a group of Huntington Beach middle-aged homosexuals who sent out joke invitations for their annual get-together. They jokingly invited members to Hudson and Nabors' marriage to tease the former for taking the latter's character Gomer Pyle's last name and becoming Rock Pyle.

The couple met in 1975 when [Stan] Cadwallader was a firefighter in Honolulu.

The scandal was taken so seriously that the two actors never spoke again, hoping to quell the rumors, and it almost ruined Hudson's reputation in Hollywood. Upon release, his movie, "Pretty Maids in a Row," received some of the worst reviews the star had ever read.

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ROCK HUDSON'S LAST LOVE

Carol Burnett with Jim Nabors and Rock Hudson at the Academy Awards on April 10, 1967. | Source: Bettman/Getty Images

According to reports, Marc Christian MacGinnis was one of Hudson's former lovers who died at age 56. In 1991, he allegedly won a multimillion-dollar settlement from the actor's estate for knowingly exposing him to AIDS, with Tammy Bruce stating:

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“It was the first public acknowledgment that gay relationships are complicated, important, and that responsibility is attached to them.”

Rock Hudson on the deck of his beach house in Malibu Beach, California, circa 1958. | Source: Archive Photos/Getty Images

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In 2015, Lee Garlington confessed that he and the iconic actor had dated in secret from 1962 to 1965. Garlington explained why they ended up breaking up so quickly, revealing:

“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,” and “Rock wasn’t a real strong personality. He was a gentle giant.”

Rock Hudson in formal attire in a black-and-white image in circa 1981. | Source: Bettman/Getty Images

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When Hudson passed on, Garlington never got to say goodbye as the star was too ill with AIDS. In the biography released after the actor's death, the star described Garlington as his "true love," leaving him to confess:

“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.”

JIM NABORS STAYED TRUE TO THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE

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In turn, Nabors fared much better as he got to marry his male partner of 38 years, Stan Cadwallader, on January 15, 2013. The actor was 82, and Cadwallader was 64 when they got married in Seattle's Fairmont Olympic Hotel.

Four years later, the star passed away. Speaking to Hawaii News Now, at the time, Nabors said a judge officiated the ceremony in their hotel room with some friends serving as witnesses, with the star adding:

"I'm very happy that I've had a partner of 38 years and I feel very blessed. And, what can I tell you, I'm just very happy."

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The couple met in 1975 when Cadwallader was a firefighter in Honolulu. Cadwallader eventually worked for Nabors, and that's when they began a relationship, with the actor explaining his sexuality wasn't a secret, stating:

"This is really no big deal.  My friend and I, my partner, we went through all of this 38 years ago. So I mean, we made our vows and that was it. It was to each other, but nevertheless, we were a couple."

Cadwallader is still alive today according to reports and lives in Honolulu, Hawaii. He became a firefighter in Honolulu when he was 20 years old and was dedicated to his work until his retirement.

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