Rock Hudson depicted the ideal romantic leading man of the 50s and 60s, wooing the likes of Doris Day and Elizabeth Taylor onscreen. However, his offscreen life had to remain a well-guarded secret from the public until a devastating diagnosis in 1983 brought to light all his mysteries.
Rock Hudson was one of his generation's most famous movie stars, with a screen career spanning more than three decades. He lived a life full of highs and lows and enjoyed great fortune and legions of fans.
However, he also had to keep a significant part of himself a secret from the public. You see, Hudson was homosexual, and at the time, homosexuality was highly frowned upon, especially for a man of Hudson's stature.
American actor Rock Hudson (1925 - 1985), circa 1955. | Source: Getty Images
That said, the actor learned to live privately, and it was hence not a surprise that when he was diagnosed with AIDS on June 5, 1984, he chose to keep it hidden from the public and, unfortunately, from his secret lover.
After the diagnosis, Hudson thought out his will, disinheriting any potential living heir and directing that anyone that tried to challenge his will would receive $1.
The directive included all his known relatives and his male lover Marc Christian. However, even with the will in place, Christian contested it, suing for $11 million and winning $14 million in court.
HUDSON KEPT THE TRUTH FROM CHRISTIAN
Actor Rock Hudson circa 1969 | Source: Getty Images
Hudson and Christian's love affair began after the pair met at a political fundraiser in October 1982. After they first met, the actor called the then-28-year-old Christian, and they started meeting regularly for lunch.
Upon [Hudson's] demise in 1985, a woman claimed she was the actor's adopted sister.
In early 1983, Hudson confessed he'd fallen in love with Christian and that it had been years since he felt that way for anyone. The two went on a weekend getaway in April, and their affair began. By November, Christian moved into Hudson's Beverly Hills home.
A close-up of actor Rock Hudson in January 1960 | Source: Getty Images
Everything seemed to go on well until it wasn't. In 1983, Hudson began showing symptoms of the disease, with sores and rashes on his body and profuse sweating at night. He also lost weight drastically. In June 1984, Hudson got the devastating diagnosis that he had AIDS.
Initially, when Christian questioned the sudden weight loss, Hudson said he was on a guilty diet. It would later emerge that even though Hudson and Christian had been lovers for a while, Hudson never disclosed that he had AIDS to Christian.
Film actor Rock Hudson poolside in the garden of his home in Beverly Hills in January 1985 | Source: Getty Images
The young lover only learned of Hudson's diagnosis through a television broadcast from Paris, where the actor had flown to seek treatment. The star had collapsed and asked his secretary Mark Miller to take care of Christian as he [Hudson] may have killed him. Christian's lawyer Harold Rhoden quoted Miller in court:
″Rock told me: 'Take care of the kid. I may have killed him.‴
During a court hearing after Hudson's death, Rhoden disclosed that the actor had kept the truth from Christian, with the help of Miller, who'd told Christian that Hudson's sudden weight loss was due to anorexia.
Actor Rock Hudson circa 1969 | Source: Getty Images
After learning that his lover of three years had AIDS, Christian became frantic. He feared he might have been infected and sought to do tests to ascertain he was in good health, tests he said were costly.
After a back and forth between Christian's lawyers and the Hudson estate attorneys, the court finally awarded Christian a whopping 14.5 million dollars for Hudson and Miller's outrageous conduct concealing the actor's health problems.
Soon after, Christian bought and renovated a mid-century modern house in Hollywood Hills. He filled the home with thousands of CDs, LPs, vintage 78s, antique Edison recordings, and his collection of musical instruments.
Marc Christian, former lover of Rock Hudson in 1985 | Source: Getty Images
Besides being heaven for his musical collection, the home became a safe spot for Christian, where he would always seek solace from the public's criticism. Many claimed that Christian was out to monetize his relationship with Hudson, and he had to defend himself on numerous occasions, saying:
"[The] purpose was not to sleaze Rock. It was to say that if you have AIDS, you ought to tell your partner, whether you are a movie star or a postman."
American actor Rock Hudson (1925 – 1985) at a press conference, 1985, Carmel, California. | Source: Getty Images
Even though Christian had sued and won the case against Hudson, he would often defend his former lover's reputation against those that felt Hudson's behavior had been reprehensible. He once told People, as Los Angeles Times reports:
"You can't dismiss a man's whole life with a single act. This thing about AIDS was totally out of character for him."
Christian passed on on June 2, 2009, from pulmonary problems at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California. However, his sister, Susan Dahl, only confirmed his death in December, citing Christian's wish for privacy.
A SISTER AND DAUGHTER THE WORLD NEVER KNEW
Rock Hudson during Rod McKuen's 37th Birthday Party at Philaharmonic Hall in new, New York, United States, circa 1970 | Source: Getty Images
Following the "Lover Come Back" actor's demise, many thought the controversies surrounding his life ended there, but people soon realized that Hudson's life had a few more undisclosed mysteries.
Upon his demise in 1985, a woman claimed she was the actor's adopted sister. She said the "Giant" actor wrongfully left her out of his will, and she planned to sue for "as much as the entire estate."
Through her lawyers, Alice Waier from Grants Pass, Oregon, asserted that she had maintained a relationship with the actor throughout his life. She had last seen Hudson in the 70s but insisted that they talked on the phone regularly and shared letters every few months until Hudson learned of his diagnosis in 1983.
Rock Hudson during Rock Hudson Sighting in New York City - December 14, 1980 in New York City, New York | Source: Getty Images
To add salt to injury, in December 2014, a Canadian woman Susan Dent filed a petition to establish paternity. She claimed that her mother had revealed that Hudson was her biological father years earlier.
She reached out to the Hudson family and asked them to submit a DNA test, which came out positive. Hudson was her dad. She claimed she wanted "no financial remuneration but only an order establishing paternity."
She has plenty of money and co-owns a house in Beverly Hills that once belonged to Madonna, so finances were not her goal. All she wanted was to establish that the actor was her father and do something in his memory.
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