Rock Hudson Summary

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(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The news that Rock Hudson was suffering from AIDS caused intense speculation about his life-style. Subsequently, he decided “to set things straight” in a book, but he was unable to undertake the project himself. This is not a conventional “as told to” autobiography since Hudson died a month after beginning work with Sara Davidson, but he did cooperate fully with her and asked his friends to do the same. Three longtime friends, Mark Miller, George Nader, and Tom Clark, also provided core information and helped identify others to be interviewed. Hudson’s own comments, gleaned from various sources, head each chapter and are found throughout the book. Davidson’s research reveals many conflicting stories, but when she has not been able to resolve a problem, she indicates the facts in dispute.

Although Hudson was known primarily as a romantic hero, his friends and acquaintances show the reader several different Rock Hudsons. The overall portrait which emerges, however, is that of an ambitious man, jealously guarding his career by keeping his private life in strict secrecy. He could be immensely charming, inspiring great loyalty among friends and fans, yet he could be ruthless in dropping someone from his inner circle. Similarly, he exhibited a curious mix of generosity and stinginess. He rarely let others know his true thoughts and feelings. Instead he used his gift of laughter to attract and entertain them. It was, perhaps, the necessity of living a carefully constructed lie that created the impression of a one-dimensional, superficial playboy. Thanks to this interesting, frank, but nonsensationalized biography, an unexpectedly complex and human person is revealed behind the screen image.