Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rock Hudson: Closeted Hollywood Star

Hudson at home his Beverly Hills residence: 9402 Beverly Crest Dr.

Looking down over Beverly Hills, “The Castle” was the 3.5 acre estate of actor Rock Hudson (1925-1985), where he lived from 1962 until his death. At the height of his career, Universal Studios purchased it for him as part of his contract renewal. Constructed with a stucco finish and red tile roof, the house was protected by a massive gate in the front (always left open) and steep cliffs on three sides, which ensured the closeted actor’s privacy.

Hudson gave a detailed description of the house to his authorized biographer. He loved his home and spent 23 years meticulously restoring it. The interior boasted two living rooms, four fireplaces, a steam room and gym, and a theater with stage and footlights. Anyone who entered became aware of his sexual orientation, even though he led a closeted public life. His bed was carved with a large male figure and on the pool deck stood large slightly abstract sculptures of naked boys; one depicts a boy throwing a smaller lad into the pool (photo below).

One of his favorite spots was the home theater, which had originally been a garage. It housed a vast collection of films and up-to-date projection equipment, while a collection of rare records filled one wall. He rehearsed upcoming roles on the wooden stage. Also on the grounds was a greenhouse overflowing with orchids.

The Castle was decorated in what one of Hudson‘s friends termed “early butch” – dark wood, pewter candlesticks, zebra skins, and heavy doses of wrought iron. The patio led to a 40-foot pool with jacuzzi and lion’s head fountain. A 20-foot barbecue that could cook enough meat to feed a hundred people. Hudson liked to give large pool parties, to which he’d invite a hand-picked assortment of handsome youthful males. He cruised Melrose Ave. in Hollywood in the vicinity of the Spike and the Eagle (gay bar), riding around in a chauffeured limo with black out windows, pulling over when someone young and handsome caught his eye. Invariably, they returned to Rock’s “Castle” in Beverly Hills.

Rock Hudson did what most other gay movie stars did at the time. He agreed to a studio sanctioned smoke-screen marriage to Phyllis Gates (now a Beverly Hills based interior designer); the studio also promoted the wedding and the honeymoon. Three years later it was all over. Shortly thereafter Rock Hudson bought his favorite house on Beverly Crest Drive. However, everyone he worked with in Hollywood knew his story. Hudson found an acceptance and compassion among show people that he feared he would never find among his fans. His greatest accolade was an Academy Award nomination for his performance in Giant (1956), co-starring Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean, although his fans most fondly remember his many romantic comedy films with co-star Doris Day.

Hudson lived most of his years at his “castle” with just his female housekeeper and seven dogs. But occasionally, he had a live-in male lover. When he did, he was careful to maintain two separate phone lines for “appearances,” and to make sure he was never photographed with the other man. His years of diverting the truth about his sexual orientation from the general public came to an end in 1985. He died in seclusion at his “castle” from complications of AIDS on October 2 of that year.

Photo below: Rock Hudson and co-star Elizabeth Taylor in Giant (1956).

Shown below with actor George Nader, the lover of Mark Miller, who was Hudson's personal secretary:


  1. He was a true american idol - wish with all my heart that I could have met him

  2. Your not the only one who have wished to meet him - I came from England in the 60's with the dream of meeting him.

  3. He was a great guy and a perfect gentleman. I was a private bartender for him for two years. I house sat for him while he was on tour with Camelot and he generously paid for a huge cast party/cookout for the cast of a production of West Side Story, that I was rehearsing for in Santa Monica.Great memories.

  4. I just read his biography. While he died in a horrific and sad way, he led an amazing life and did what he wanted. He had heartache, but a lot of fun and laughter and accomplishment as well. How many men, gay or straight, come from obscurity with no training, then become the number one star for seven straight years, earning an Oscar nomination in the meantime? He got in the door with his looks, but worked very hard to become an amazing actor. Good for him.

  5. it is a shame that he could not live the life he wanted and with whom he wanted been gay does not make him a bad person

  6. Should have gotten a 2nd Oscar nom for "Seconds" (1966).