TCM Summer Under the Stars: Day Two — Rock Hudson

Rock Hudson was a star. Rock Quarry, too.

Day Two of Summer Under the Stars features one of Hollywood’s most recognizable performers – Rock Hudson. He was so handsome and so famous that he was more than an actor. If you have any doubt, just take a look at such pop culture staples as the musical Grease (in which he’s mentioned in the song “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee) and in the primetime cartoon, The Flintstones (where he was the inspiration for the character Rock Quarry). Rock Hudson was a STAR.

In the Beginning:

Rock Hudson was born Roy Harold Scherer, Jr., on November 17, 1925, in Winnetka, Illinois, an affluent suburb about 30 minutes outside of Chicago. His auto mechanic father left the family when he lost his job during the Depression; when his mother later remarried, Roy was adopted by his stepfather and took on his last name of Fitzgerald.


During World War II, Roy served as mechanic in the Phillipines, and after the war, he moved to Los Angeles, with his sights set on pursuing an acting career. While making ends meet as a truck driver, he distributed his photograph to studio execs and posed next to his truck outside of the studio gates. He eventually signed up with talent agent Henry Willson, who reportedly gave the budding actor his new name by combining Rock of Gibraltar with the Hudson River. The newly christened Rock Hudson made his big screen debut in 1948, in a small part in Fighter Squadron, starring Edmond O’Brien and directed by Raoul Walsh.

Other Stuff:

  • Hudson attended New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, as did such fellow luminaries as Ann Margret, Charlton Heston, Ralph Bellamy, Hugh O’Brian, and Bruce Dern.
  • Hudson was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Giant (1956). He lost to Yul Brynner, for The King and I.

    Rock and his wife, Phyllis Gates.

  • The actor was married for three years to Phyllis Gates, who worked as a secretary for Hudson’s agent, Henry Willson. Although Gates later maintained that she married Hudson for love, it is widely held that the marriage was fostered by Willson in an effort to cloak the fact that Hudson was gay.
  • Hollywood gossip columnist Sidney Skolsky is credited with coining the term “beefcake.” He reportedly created the label with Hudson in mind.
  • In July 1985, Hudson became the one of the first celebrities to reveal that he was suffering from AIDS. He died three months later. He was only 59 years old.

My SUTS Pick:

Indian Rock? Nope.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might know that I am currently firmly entrenched in an obsession with classic westerns – they’re all I’ve been watching for the last couple of weeks. So when I saw that Winchester ’73 (1950) was one of the films airing on Rock Hudson Day, I immediately decided that it would be my pick, even though, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember Hudson being in this James Stewart feature. Upon rewatching the film, I discovered that Hudson played a tiny part as an Indian (yes) named Young Bull. Back to the drawing board.

After another review of the scheduled list of SUTS films, I quickly decided to go with the Rock Hudson film that I love the most and the one that should have been my automatic first choice: Pillow Talk (1959). In it, Hudson stars as a playboy songwriter who shares a party telephone line with a rather straitlaced and disapproving interior decorator, played by Doris Day.

Don’t miss it!

For my money, Pillow Talk is not only a delightfully witty and genuinely funny movie, but it serves as an ideal showcase for Hudson’s comedic talents. Plus, Hudson and Day are more than ably supported by two of my favorite performers, Tony Randall and Thelma Ritter; Day is clad in an absolutely gorgeous wardrobe; and one of the scenes features a tune called “Roly Poly” that will have you singing along before they reach the final bar.

If you’re in need of a lift to your spirits during these upside-down days, make an appointment with Pillow Talk on Rock Hudson Day. You’ll be glad you did.

And join me tomorrow for a look at Day Three of TCM’s Summer Under the Stars!

~ by shadowsandsatin on August 1, 2020.

5 Responses to “TCM Summer Under the Stars: Day Two — Rock Hudson”

  1. I think TCM should have scheduled Bend of the River, 1952 on Rock’s day. It was one of those breakout roles and I am certain audiences left the theatre not thinking about Stewart or Arthur Kennedy, but “that young guy.”

  2. I actually thought he gave his best performance in The Martian Chronicles several parts series on television ( 70s/80s) in a fascinating 15 minute scene in which he and a alien engage in a discussion concerning spirituality.

  3. […] Day 2: Rock Hudson […]

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