Rock Hudson

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Rock Hudson was an American actor, born as Roy Harold Scherer, Jr on Nov 17, 1925 in Winnetka, Cook County, Illinois, the son of Roy Harold Scherer, Sr an auto mechanic, and his wife Katherine "Kay" Wood (d. 1977), who had just married the year before.

Kay was the daughter of James Wood and Mary Ellen unknown. Roy Sr left the family in 1932 and went to California. Rock's obit in the NYT states that Roy had lost his job during the Depression. After Roy left, Kay started dating Wallace "Wally" FitzGerald who worked shoveling coal at the Winnetka Water Works. Kay and Wally married and he adopted Roy who became Roy FitzGerald.

Roy FitzGerald went to New Trier High School. Wally and Kay fought and he would beat her and Roy. They divorced, Kay married him a second time, and they divorced again when Roy was fifteen. Kay became a live-in housekeeper for a wealthy family. For several years they lived above Walgreen's Drug Store.

To California

"Roy Fitzgerald enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1943 and was shipped on the S.S. Lew Wallace, a Kaiser Liberty ship, to Samar, a sandy island in the Philippines." (My Story, p42) (His obit in the NYT says he enlisted in 1944.) He was shipped home in 1946 and decided to go to California because his father, was living in Long Beach. He found a job driving for Budget Pack. In Long Beach, for the first time, he met men who were open about being gay. One of these was Kenneth G Hodge. "...Ken Hodge had worked in radio for many years, producing Lux Radio Theatre. Ken was thirty-six and Roy was twenty-one...he lived in a the Chateau Marmont, a building owned by his Aunt Bernadette." (My Story, p 43)

Roy and Kenneth met in the Summer of 1947, together they left Long Beach and moved to Hollywood where they shared a bungalow in the hills. Kenneth worked his contacts and threw parties to introduce his protege. At one of these, Roy met Henry Willson. Without Ken's knowledge, Roy contacted Willson, they signed a contract and Willson became his agent. A short time later, Kenneth moved back to Long Beach, alone. Davidson reports that "..Roy's first check, made out to "Roy FitzGerald" from Vanguard Films of Culver City is endorsed on the back "Roy FitzGerald, Pay to the Order of Rock Hudson, Kenneth G Hodge"

Hudson's first named role, according to his Wikipedia article was in Fighter Squadron in 1948.

Early Career


His mother died of a stroke in "...the fall of 1977."(His Story, pg 203)

Rock Hudson died of AIDS on Oct 2, 1985 at his home in California.


Many articles have been writen about him, but many of the people swirling around him are shadows, whose lives are only illuminated in his presence. That is, all the articles mentioning them, only mention them in relationship to him. There are a few exceptions like his agent Henry Willson or the actor George Nader, who was one of his best friends for most of his life.

  • Agent: Henry Willson, also agent for Tab Hunter and Troy Donovan
  • Friends: George Nader, also a movie star, and Mark Miller, George's lover
  • Rock Hudson's Lovers in chronologic order:
    • Kenneth G Hodge, first-known live-in lover abt 1947/8
    • Robert Preble, roommate? he claims they never had a relationship, 1950-3
    • Jack Navaar, 1952-1954 (a pseudonym)
    • Phyllis Gates, married in 1955, divorced in 1958
    • Marilyn Maxwell, 1961-1962? (died March 1972)
    • Lee Garlington, 1963-64, then on-and-off until 1973
    • Jack Coates, 1967-1971
    • Tom Clark, 1972-1983
    • Marc Christian, 1983-1984, most well-known lover, who later sued his estate and was awarded 15 million; they were estranged at Rock's death, the basis of the suit was Marc's claim that he was intentionally exposed to HIV without his own knowledge
  • Personal Trainer: Ron Channell, hired in 1983

See also

Ancestry of Rock Hudson

Primary documentation

  • 1930 New Trier, Cook County, Illinois showing : "Raymond Scherer, 30, IL, married at age 24, Proprietor, Garage; Katherine, 30 IL/England/IL; Raymond H 4 1/12; Lloyd 23 brother, IL, Helper, Gas Station"
  • The Bradford Era (Bradford, Pennsylvania), May 8, 1951 (advertisement) "Dipsons Bradford, Starts Wednesday, Today, Gregory Peck, "Only The Valiant", Big Party Tonight, "Follow the Sun" Special, The Story of the Jet Fighters! Air Cadet starring Stephen McNally, Gail Russell, Alex Nicol, Richard Long, Peggie Castle, Charles Drake, Rock Hudson. 2nd Gay Feature, Song-Spashed! Fun-Filled! Rhythm Inn..."
  • Stars and Stripes Newspaper, WWII Europe and North Africa Editions, 1942-58, Jun 1, 1952 page 8 : "Life in Hollywood — ...Gene Tierney will be in England before many days....Gene has been stepping out with Rock Hudson recently, but this romance isn't serious enough to keep her from going to Europe."
  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 showing : "British Overseas Airways Corp., Embarked London, Disembarked New York, Oct 28, 1952, Rock Hudson aka Roy FitzGerald" ("aka Roy FitzGerald" is hand-writen)
  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 showing : "First Class, from Southampton, Sep 16, 1954 arriving at New York Sep 21, 1954 on the Queen Mary — Rock Hudson of 8383 Grandview Drive, Hollywood; born Illinois; 8 pieces of luggage"
  • California Death Index, 1940-97 showing : "Rock Hudson born Nov 17, 1925 Illinois, died Oct 2, 1985 Los Angeles County; mother's maiden name Wood"
  • New York Times, obituary "Rock Hudson" Oct 3, 1985 "Rock Hudson, Screen Idol, Dies at 59" stating such bits as : "...During the Depression, his father lost his job as an automobile mechanic and left the family. His mother, a telephone operator, remarried, and the actor, then 8 years old, took the surname of his stepfather Wallace Fitzgerald. His mother's second marriage ended after nine years." "In 1944, he joined the Navy and served in the Philippines as an airplane mechanic." None of his male lovers were named, his one-time wife Phyllis Gates was.

Secondary Sources

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