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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > February 2019 > Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

Rock Hudson’s double life as a Hollywood heartthrob and closet queer is laid bare in Mark Griffin’s biography


Mark Griffin/Harper

Soon to be a major film, this is a thoughtful and thorough new biography of Rock Hudson, the closeted but sexually liberated matinee idol of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Handsome, brawny and clean-cut, Rock Hudson was the embodiment of idealised Fifties American masculinity. From roles in classic films including Giant and Pillow Talk to Eighties TV series Dynasty, he enjoyed success and longevity. But behind the scenes this Hollywood heartthrob concealed his own inner heartache. Rock — real name Roy — was raised poor in Illinois, and after surviving childhood abandonment and abuse, he was determined to become an actor at all costs, signing with the powerful but predatory agent Henry Willson. Continually threatened with exposure for his homosexuality, it was headline news when the public learned that he was battling AIDS in 1985. With unprecedented access to private journals, personal correspondence and production files, and drawing on more than 100 interviews with co-stars, family members and former companions, this is a fascinating, sensitive and engaging insight into the double life of a Hollywood icon. Out now

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