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Tribute to Rock Hudson

Aired October 1, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Rock Hudson, one of Hollywood's handsomest leading men. Women dreamed of being with him. Men dreamed of being him. But for decades, he kept his real self a secret, until a shocking TV appearance exposed a double life. Less than three months later, that life cut short by a deadly disease. Tonight, 18 years after his tragic death, friends, colleagues, even an ex- girlfriend remember Rock Hudson.
Joining us, Tony Randall, Rock's co-star in classic romantic comedies like "Pillow Talk"; Gina Lollobrigida, the Italian bombshell, who also acted with Rock Hudson; actress Elaine Stritch, who dated Rock Hudson; the famed columnist Liz Smith, one of Rock's closest friends, and some say she helped keep his secret; actress Diane Ladd, Rock's friend and co-star; and Rock Hudson's long-time publicist and friend, Dale Olson. And they're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Hard to believe this, but this is the eve of the 18th anniversary of Rock Hudson's death. He died on October 2, 1985, at his home in Beverly Hills, California. He was only 59 years old.

Tony, where were you when you learned of Rock's passing?

TONY RANDALL, HUDSON'S CO-STAR IN THREE FILMS: I -- I'm embarrassed to say I -- I think just at home. I have no specific recollection.

KING: Where were you, Elaine?

ELAINE STRITCH, HUDSON'S FORMER GIRLFRIEND AND CO-STAR: Hopefully, I was working. Any more than that, I don't -- I don't remember.

KING: Liz, do you remember where you were?

LIZ SMITH, HUDSON'S LONG-TIME FRIEND: Well, I had sort of been monitoring the last day's of his illness, after he was returned -- remember the horrible footage of them bringing him off of a plane? He had gone to France, I think, to try for some radical treatment, and he never was, you know, well after that, or even -- hardly well enough to have friends. Though he did have many friends that visited him in the end.

KING: Were you one of them?

SMITH: Well, I was one of his friends, but I wasn't one of his real intimates. And I guess your set-up of me a while ago that I was one of the people who kept his secrets -- I guess, in a way, I -- in a way, I did, but not in the beginning because I didn't have a clue.

KING: But you did learn of it before the public learned of it.

SMITH: Yes, I did learn of it at the time he told me that he was being blackmailed by a woman and -- well, I'll tell about that later.

KING: OK. Diane Ladd, do you remember where you were when Rock passed?

DIANE LADD, HUDSON'S FRIEND AND CO-STAR: I do, indeed, Larry. About two weeks earlier, a gentleman who'd produced a lot of films with Doris Day and Rock had called me and said Rock wanted to see me before he died. And then I didn't get to see him. It was supposed to be arranged, and it wasn't arranged. And I was in Mississippi with relatives when I heard the news that Rock had died.

KING: Gina Lollobrigida, you remember how you heard?

GINA LOLLOBRIGIDA, HUDSON'S FRIEND AND CO-STAR: Yes, I was in Italy, and I arranged with (UNINTELLIGIBLE) television as a journalist come to Los Angeles to see him for -- for a big evening. But I was stuck in India, and I arrived late of that big evening because...

KING: Dale, you remember?

DALE OLSON, HUDSON'S LONG-TIME PUBLICIST AND FRIEND: Sure. Well, I was at Rock's house every day. And the day he died, actually, I was not there, but I came over to the house, of course, immediately because I was there every day. I saw him every day.

KING: You knew he was dying?

OLSON: Oh, of course. Yes. I mean, it was -- it was apparent for some time that he was dying, and we anticipated it, you know, daily.

KING: Tony, did you speak to him after he had had AIDS, after we knew he had had AIDS?

RANDALL: I don't know when he first found out, but I didn't see much of him off the set. I only saw him half a dozen times off the set.

KING: What was he like to work with?

RANDALL: Oh, a joy. Big kid, full of fun, hard worker. I loved the guy.

KING: Did you know of the secret part of his life?

RANDALL: You heard talk about that, but you heard talk about that about everybody. I never listened to it, and I never paid any attention to it. I didn't believe it because he was such a virile guy and his dressing room was always full to bursting with gorgeous chicks.

KING: Elaine, you -- you were romantically involved with him, were you not?

STRITCH: Well, sure. I was crazy about him. You asked Liz about did she know before the public knew. I thought you were going to ask me the same question. I was about to say you can just go on so many dates until you get a slight message.


STRITCH: You understand what I'm saying?


STRITCH: And then you say, There's something wrong with me, because you -- you take the guilt, you know. You take the -- as is true in a lot of ways. But I -- when you said to Tony, Did you see Rock when he had AIDS? I want to tell you something, Larry. I was out in Hollywood, California, to do a musical. You know Sylvia Kaye -- Sylvia Fine Kaye...

KING: Danny Kaye's wife.

STRITCH: Yes, yes, yes. That does it. She used to produce musicals on television, musical comedy evenings. And I was in one of them with Rock, and Rock was in -- Rock was in it. And I cannot tell you the first day of rehearsal that I went to, and there was Rock, looking the way he does in that terrifying picture, you know, when he was really near dying and thin, thin, thin and old, old, old. And he rushed over to me, picked me up in his arms and gave me a hug and said, What are you doing for dinner tonight? I cannot tell you how emotionally involved I was at that moment. And we went out to dinner to an Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills, and it was one of the most frightening evenings of my life. He had a...

KING: Frightening because?

STRITCH: Frightening because there was this man, there was Rock Hudson sitting there, having half of his scotch and soda, and that's all he could handle -- and that's a crime in any man's language -- and looking at me and telling me that he had anorexia. And I tell you, it was awful! And then we went -- I mean, I was just spent. I've never had such an evening in my life because I truly loved this man. I would never be "in love" with Rock Hudson, but I truly loved him.

KING: Dale, you were going to add something?

OLSON: Well, I was just going to say I tried, Elaine, to talk Rock out of doing that because -- because of the way he looked, and he insisted. He said, I want to see and I want to work with Elaine Stritch, and nothing would stop him from doing that.


KING: Wow.

OLSON: He really wanted to see you.

KING: Liz Smith, why -- why do -- why did -- he changed the whole focus of AIDS, didn't he?

SMITH: Well, his death was certainly the -- like, the flashpoint of publicity. I think Elizabeth Taylor was already involved in the AIDS fight before she knew that Rock had AIDS, but that certainly galvanized her. She had loved and worshiped and adored him, and he loved her. And I think everybody -- you know, we'd started writing about AIDS a little bit in 1983, and people were awful about it. And so Rock's death was so terrible that it was an enlightening experience. If you could say anything good came out of it, I guess you could say that. But you had to know him when he was in his prime to know what a terrible tragedy it was.

KING: Because he was so special?

SMITH: He was just a great guy. He was a guy that you just couldn't resist him. And I think -- I went for years thinking that I was sort of emotionally involved with him. I thought he liked me and I liked him, and I always hoped it could develop into something else. Well, that sounds silly now, but I had real romantic daydreams about Rock, and I think every woman who ever met him did.

KING: In fact, in your terrific memoir, "Natural Blonde," you used to doodle the name "Mrs. Rock Hudson," right?


SMITH: Well...

KING: Come on, admit it!

SMITH: The funny thing about that is, I went to Rome with Elaine, as her secretary, when she was going to make "A Farewell to Arms." And Elaine and I had a big suite in a hotel, and she went off to work every day, and I -- I knew Rock already. I had known him since 1953. And I used to just have these incredible daydreams, but Elaine was the one having dates with him, and I was just furious!


SMITH: I used to just skulk around the hotel and wait for her discarded Italian boyfriends.


KING: We'll be right back with more. We'll get into working with Rock Hudson, more about his life and stories and your calls. Don't go away.


ROCK HUDSON: Get your clothes on.

DORIS DAY: You get out of here!

HUDSON: We're going to my apartment.

DAY: I've seen it!

HUDSON: You'll see it again. Now, put your clothes on.

DAY: I won't!

HUDSON: Are you getting out of that bed or am I coming in after you?

DAY: You wouldn't dare! Oh, how dare you! Oh, you put me down! I said put me down! I said put me down! What are you doing? Where are you taking me? I'm warning you, you put me down or I'll scream! Oh! Good morning, Mrs. Wilson.


DAY: Now, you put me back in my bed!




HUDSON: I like fresh air when I'm sleeping!

RANDALL: I will not be poisoned by damp night air. Courtesy and consideration for others. Ye, gods, you've got cold feet!

HUDSON: Complaints, complaints, nothing but complaints. I could complain a little, too, you know. You ever cut your toenails?


KING: Tony, what was -- what was -- how good an actor was he?

RANDALL: He became a good -- he became a good actor. His -- his career was odd. He became a star before he learned how to act, and he learned how to act after he was a star. But in our pictures, he was wonderful. He had never before played comedy, and he was rather unsure of himself at first. And when he found himself comfortable, when he began to enjoy it, he was absolutely marvelous.

KING: Gina, what was it like for you to work with him?

LOLLOBRIGIDA: It was fantastic. He was a good actor. He was funny. He had a rhythm for comedy. But besides that, we liked each other. And even after the film, after the scenes, we were together. And he courted me and...

KING: Aha!

LOLLOBRIGIDA: Yes. And he insisted -- I mean, he gave -- he had the initiative. Normally, you know, I take the initiative, but that time...

(LAUGHTER) LOLLOBRIGIDA: ... he wanted (ph). And of course, you know, how I liked him. Is easy to like him at that time. He was marvelous. He was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) We made together "Come September" in -- near Rappallo (ph). So was a good atmosphere, and then we came to Rome and we had a wonderful time together. And then...

KING: But you weren't in love with him.

LOLLOBRIGIDA: He was in love with me, and I was in love with him. You know, you can't -- you can't stop when you like one person. But then...

KING: Yes.

LOLLOBRIGIDA: ... at the end, it happened that, I don't know, he -- in a particular situation, he fall asleep. So I...


LOLLOBRIGIDA: You know, I don't know...

KING: We can gather what that was.


KING: We can imagine what that was.

LOLLOBRIGIDA: You know, it happens. You know, sometimes a person is tired and fall asleep.


KING: Elaine Stritch, what was he like to work with? That was funny!

STRITCH: I'll tell you about -- I'll tell you about Rock's humor. And first of all, he loved women. He really loved women. And it's interesting, Larry, because, you know, I know a lot of really special, talented -- I know a lot of people in show business, and they're -- so many of them are wonderful. And you know, everybody's -- it seems today that everybody's principles are kind of taking on a new personality. Everybody does everything.

You know, it's amazing. The fact that Rock Hudson had romantic liaisons with the same sex -- I mean, come on! In a perfect world -- and I'm not saying it is, but nobody pay any attention to that today. The trick is that when you do performances on the screen and you're kissing a woman, why can't that be looked at just in the same way that people look at "Philadelphia" with Tom Hanks? We all know Tom Hanks is straight. I mean, the last time I looked. So you know, let's put it this way...

KING: That's right.

STRITCH: Why can't we...

KING: Well put.

STRITCH: Why can't we believe that Tom Hanks is gay? We did believe he was gay. So when we go to see Rock Hudson, he's an actor.

KING: Believe him straight.

STRITCH: And I'll tell you -- yes, you bet, Larry. And I'll bet you -- I'll bet you any amount of money that Rock Hudson had a lot of affairs with women. I actually think -- I'm almost positive he did with...


OLSON: He did.

KING: Dale says he did. Diane -- what was he like to work with, Diane?

LADD: Well, Larry, I'd like to share something with him, some amazing good that came out of Rock's experiences. When I first met Rock, it was long distance. I was embracing teenagehood. I was in a little movie theater in Mississippi, and I was going on 13. And I saw this cowboy movie that starred Rock Hudson. He was the most gorgeous thing I had ever laid eyes on. And he got shot in the movie. I jumped up and screamed, No! And I heard a voice behind me say, Oh, by God, Diane, won't you be sitting down? And it was Father Burns (ph) from my church, and I was morbidly embarrassed.

And little did I know that the circle of my life would lead me to a time when Rock Hudson's energy and mine would actually help save a life. After I had the privilege of starring with him in a movie, he and I and Helen Hunt and -- he was amazing to work with, an amazing human being. And after his death, I was asked to play his mother in a TV show about his life, and I really did not like the script. I did not feel that it began to do his life justice. But I said, If I don't do it, they're going to do it anyhow. And if I do do it, maybe I can use my energy to make it a little bit better.

So I went to the producers and I said, I'll do this movie for very little money if you will donate $25,000 to a hospital that's doing immune-related disease research and helping people. They agreed, and they wrote a check, and it was given to, at my choice, a hospital in Scottsdale that was doing work with AIDS patients.

And one of the patients came in. They had given him three to nine weeks to live. When nine weeks were up -- during that time, he couldn't take AZT. It would cripple the hands (ph). But I discovered that they could give a patient with AIDS a thymus shot -- the cost is $10 -- and remove pain. So I'd like for them to hear more talk about that. And this patient was given chelation and many alternative modalities that, at the end of the nine weeks, he didn't die, Larry. He walked out of the hospital.

And his mother from Dallas, Texas-- that day, synchronistically, I was there talking to the doctors about some medical programs, and she went in crying to thank the doctors for his son's life. And they said to her, Oh, no. Don't thank us. That actress, Diane Ladd, is here. You thank you. And I was in the hall talking, and this woman came running down that hall like Mary Magdalene. She threw herself at my feet with her arms around my ankles and sobbing, thanked me for saving her life.

And I grabbed her by the shoulders and I stood her up and I said, No, ma'am. You do not thank me. You thank my beloved friend, Rock Hudson, because in his final breaths, he stood up and told the truth that would help fellow human beings...

KING: Wow.

LADD: ... and humanity. And that is a by God true story.

KING: We'll take a break and we'll be right back with more. We'll go to your calls at the bottom of the hour. Don't go away.


LADD: Now, turn away.

HUDSON: I'm over 21.

LADD: Here.

HUDSON: It's a pity. They were very becoming.

LADD: Now, don't let that captain catch you guzzling on that. We'll both get life.

HUDSON: Did you find out anything about Miss Barkley?

LADD: Yes. Yes, indeedy.

HUDSON: What? What'd you find out?

LADD: Oh, look at him, the bedridden Romeo! Miss Barkley is arriving on the 8:00 o'clock train.

HUDSON: You're not kidding?

LADD: Boy, she must be something.




HUDSON: Don't you walk out that door!

LOLLOBRIGIDA: Oh, what would I lose, the privilege of seeing you every September? Well, I'm tired of being girl of the month.

HUDSON: You know you're more than that. LOLLOBRIGIDA: Oh, don't worry, Robert. You won't have any trouble. Just put an ad in the paper -- "Girl wanted, short hours, pleasant working conditions." There's only one drawback. There's no chance of advancement.


KING: Dale, you say that -- well, that Rock knew a lot of women.

OLSON: Oh, Rock loved...

KING: I mean, was intimate...

OLSON: Rock loved women.

KING: ... with women.

OLSON: And he -- yes, he had affairs with women. I mean...

KING: He was married once.

OLSON: Yes, he was married once. He was married quite happily for a period of time. But he had romances on location. He had a lot of romances.

KING: Did Ross Hunter (ph) ...

OLSON: He loved women.

KING: Did Ross Hunter send him over the top? Because that's the story.

OLSON: Did he -- I don't quite...


KING: ... that he was sort of borderline, and then went totally...

OLSON: No, I don't think that's necessarily true. You know, I think Rock was like a great many people. He was a sexual human being and attracted to both sexes.

KING: And torn. Obviously torn by it, right?

OLSON: Yes, but he didn't let anybody know that.

KING: Drank a lot.

OLSON: He didn't show that.

KING: Drank...

OLSON: He drank a great deal. I think that's why he fell asleep when he was with Gina, as a matter of fact.

KING: Liz, you said you'd elaborate on -- on sitting on a story on that...

SMITH: OK, but can I just -- Larry, let me just say something first about Rock. He always flirted with everybody. This was -- he -- I think he thought this was his function in life. And you know, he told this reporter, Boze Hadley (ph), in an interview that was never seen until after he died that he actually had only been gay after he came out of his mother's womb.


SMITH: I mean, he had a lot of sardonic, sarcastic things like that to say and to make fun of himself, and so forth. But he was just indefatigable when it came to his relationships with women. He wanted to impress them. Maybe it was part of the role-playing he was doing. But I think, honestly, he liked all people, and I think that was very well put by Dale, that he was a sexual human being. And he was beautiful, and everybody wanted him, so why not?

Well, to get to my story about the -- sitting on the story -- very late in -- I guess in -- about 20 years ago, he told me that he was being blackmailed by a woman. Now, though I had known him since 1953, he had never told me he was gay. And I didn't really begin to hear that until after my misadventure in Rome, when I thought I was in love with him. And he called me and said, Look, Liz, I'm having trouble, and this woman is going to sue me. She's going to release me story to the tabloids.

So I said, What's her name? So he told me, and I said, Well, I just happen to have a really nasty file on this woman, and you -- I would never use it myself, but you can show it to her, if you want, and maybe she'll back off. And he took the file and he did do that, and he quashed the story, so...

KING: Liz!

SMITH: ... I guess I was -- I am culpable. I'm guilty. I helped him cover up. But you know what? If it'd come out that he was gay, it would have been the end of his career. And I don't think the world was ready for it then. I'm not sure they're ready for it now. You don't see too many of these big romantic guys in Hollywood coming out. Name one.

KING: Yes. Tony, is that...

SMITH: Rupert Everett, but...

KING: Tony, is that true, that a big star still can't come out?

RANDALL: I rather imagine so, yes. It's a mythological life. The public wants to believe and they want to believe that they are the heroes they seem on the screen.

KING: And so we don't want that image destroyed.

RANDALL: No, no. It must never be destroyed.

KING: Dale?

OLSON: Yes, but you know, the interesting thing is -- and it's different than it is today, but Rock Hudson was truly maybe the nicest person who ever came to Hollywood. And he was nice to everybody. He was nice to the people he worked with. He was nice to the press. And everybody took care of him. The studio took care of him. Everybody had the rumors. Everybody heard about the possibility of his being gay, but very few people ever printed it. The press were so kind to him.

KING: Just plain liked him.

OLSON: They -- everybody respected...

KING: But you're saying he...

OLSON: ... him and liked him.

KING: ... deserved to be liked.

OLSON: Absolutely. Because he was nice to everyone, and he -- and there was no mystery. Today, publicists keep people away from the press, and the press are dying to find out anything they can find. They didn't care about Rock and his life.

KING: Really?

OLSON: They just liked him.

KING: We'll take a break and come back and go to your phone calls. We'll reintroduce the panel, as well. Rock Hudson died 18 years ago October 2, 1985. We'll be right back.


HUDSON: John Henry Thomas, of course. Well, you were on George Custer's ride (UNINTELLIGIBLE) when you charged (ph) the dressworks (ph) at Madisonville, weren't you.

JOHN WAYNE: We did a job that day, didn't we?

HUDSON: You were damn cruel!

WAYNE: Cruel? Those Johnny rebs had 40-pounders looking right down our throat.

HUDSON: Did you think you were coming to a ball? Sergeant!


HUDSON: If I can find the time, I'm going to sit down and write the social history of bourbon.



KING: You see him right before he died?

ELIZABETH TAYLOR, ACTRESS: Oh, yes. I was with him the night before. And he couldn't remember today. He could remember yesterday. But he couldn't remember the present. And we laughed about making chocolate martinis and -- oh, he was just skin and bones. And I thought, I am going to do everything in my living power to get at this disease and kill it by its throat.


KING: Elizabeth Taylor.

Let's reintroduce our panel before we go to phone calls.

In New York, Tony Randall. He co-starred with Rock in "Pillow Talk," "Lover Come Back" and "Send Me No Flowers." Tony is one of the enduring legend in American theater and film.

RANDALL: Oh, come on.

KING: I mean it.

In Paris, Gina Lollabrigida, actress, artist, co-starred with Rock Hudson in 1961's"Come September" and in "Strange Bedfellows" in 1965. She's also sculptress. We'll ask about that in awhile.

In New York, the wonderful Elaine Stritch, friend of Rock, dated him, appeared with him in "A Farewell to Arms." Just concluded an enormously successful engagement, a one-woman show in New York's theater.

Liz Smith, the famed syndicated columnist, best-selling author and a longtime friend of Rock's.

In Vancouver is Diane Ladd, a friend of Rock Hudson's who co- starred with him in 1876's "Embryo." Also appeared in the 1990 TV movie about him. She's in Vancouver, by the way, filming the upcoming ABC series Stephen King's "Kingdom Hospital."

And in Los Angeles Dale Olson, Rock Hudson's longtime publicist and good friend.

Liz has a scoop for us in a minute but I want to get on call in.

Quincy, Illinois, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: I was just wondering how long Rock had been married to Phyllis and what happened to her.

KING: What? I think that's Liz -- Liz, I think this is funny.

SMITH: Yeah. It's a cue, Larry.

KING: No. I mean, that was the call.

SMITH: It is? OK. Well...

KING: What happened?

SMITH: I don't know exactly how long they were married, maybe three or four years. Dale probably knows.

OLSON: Six years.

SMITH: He knows everything.

KING: Six years he says.

SMITH: Six years. OK.

But Phyllis Gates telephoned me today. I believe she was in Los Angeles. She didn't say. She is in an assisted care home, having had lung surgery. And she said just one thing. She just said, Liz, if you please don't foment (ph) the rumor or the myth that I had an arranged marriage with Rock Hudson. She said, It might have been arranged from Rock's point of view or from Henry Wilson's point of view. Henry Wilson was the man -- she was a secretary to him and then she married Rock and he was Rock's agent. She said, They might have arranged it but there was nothing arranged about it as far as I was concerned. So her emphasis is to say she was actually emotionally involved and married to Rock in a very real way and I don't know the truth of that, but that's her statement.

KING: That's really nice. What do you think, Dale?

OLSON: Rock always said that. Rock always said...

KING: That he had a relationship-- a full relationship?

OLSON: Yes. Rock always said that Henry introduced them, but that it was a very pleasant relationship and a very warm and romantic relationship.

SMITH: Well, I think she was just..

KING: That affirms it.

SMITH: I think she was just crushed when Rock wanted a divorce, frankly.

OLSON: Absolutely.

SMITH: I mean, Any woman would have been. If I been Mrs. Rock Hudson, I'd still -- today I'd still be writing those little notes.

KING: Liz, you keep bringing this up. I think this is an eternal wish, Liz.

SMITH: It was. I want to tell you, he was such a spectacular person. I agree with Dale. He was a really nice human being. I never knew him to do anything mean or -- he was as cute as he could be and just irresistible.

KING: Chillicote, Ohio, hello.

CALLER: Larry, is it true that Rock Hudson had an affair with actress/singer Jim Neighbors (ph)?

KING: We have heard that for years. Any truth, Dale?

OLSON: No. That is not true.

KING: They were married in Hawaii...

OLSON: That was a joke that somebody played. They thought was a joke and it turned out to backfire. It was not true at all.

They were, in fact, friends. But, no. They did not have an affair.

KING: They were not lovers?

OLSON: No, it was not -- no, it was not an emotional...

KING: Elaine, would you back the statement about him being a nice guy?

STRITCH: Oh, Larry, are you kidding? He was terrific. He was (UNINTELLIGIBLE)


STRITCH: You know -- what?

SMITH: Don't arrange your (UNINTELLIGIBLE)


KING: Look at the camera, Elaine. It's an old fashioned trick in show business.

STRITCH: Am I looking at the right one?



STRITCH: I'm so modest and shy and unassuming.

Rock -- let me tell you a quick story about rock, about how cute he was and how he was with women. In a scene in "Farewell to Arms," I had to smuggle some booze into Rock, a room when he was in the hospital. I was a nurse, as we saw on that clip. And so, I smuggled them in by putting them in my uniform, in my bosom, so the Bowls (ph) brandy or whatever that bottle was that's round at the bottom and skinny at the top. So I got them in that way.

And we shot -- we rehearsed the scene about seven times. And I told my director that I really was getting very sore and could I rehearse the next two times without the bottles in my bosom? And so, I took them out and Rock looked at me and said, I thought you were going to do it without the bottles.



STRITCH: He was adorable, that guy.

KING: That's a great story. Tony, he was funny?

RANDALL: Oh, yes. Yes. Very funny. On the set, he had a lot of time and he'd tell stories and he would tell us about his early days in the movies when he didn't know anything about how to act and he said he would stand there on the set looking like this. And -- because he didn't know what to do.

Well, one day, we were having trouble on the set. We were doing the same scene over and over again. It was just getting worse. And I looked over and he was going like this. And I just collapsed. I just couldn't stop laughing, which didn't help him a bit.

KING: Golden, Colorado, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: Hi, everybody.


CALLER: I was wondering if Rock -- was he more comfortable doing comedy or drama or which one he enjoyed more?

KING: Diane?

LADD: Well, I think that he was expert at both. I think that he had comedy in his heart because he had a pure heart and he had a way of doing comedy from realistic, from a honest point of view and he also was a very exciting dramatic actor. It was quite an amazing experience to work with him.

And he had more charisma, I think, than any one person that I have ever met in person in my life.

KING: St. Catherine, Ontario.

CALLER: Yes, hi, Larry. How are you?

KING: Fine.

CALLER: I guess my question originally was whether Rock was bisexual or homosexual. But I think that has been answered by your panel.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: So what I'm wondering is if anyone can possibly name any of his past gay lovers.

KING: Well, we had one that was famous because he appeared on this show and he sued Rock. Did he not, Dale?

OLSON: That's absolutely true.

KING: And won that suit?

OLSON: He did win the suit.

KING: And he was the one that had lived with Rock and did -- he won the suit because Rock didn't tell him he had AIDS?

OLSON: That's true.

KING: Was that one of the low features of the story of Rock Hudson?

OLSON: I think that probably was a very low...

KING: Not telling him?

OLSON: ...story of Rock Hudson -- yes. But the interesting thing is-- and I believe this is true, that while Rock may not have told him he had AIDS, Rock insisted that he also did not have sexual relations with him after he himself learned he had AIDS.

KING: Oh, so, he never endangered him?

OLSON: No. He insisted that. I mean, we discussed that when it finally came out that he had AIDS. And he said, no, he was aware and he had severed relations -- sexual relations with Mark.

KING: It's was a fair question, Elaine.


KING: About the caller asked a fair question about the person who sued him.


KING: If anybody didn't like him, that person didn't like him.

STRITCH: I think that guy who called in wanted phone numbers or something.


KING: Saint Catherine, Ontario, hello. That was Saint Catherine, I'm sorry. We are going to take a break and come back with more comments and more phone calls as we go to break. A scene with Rock and Elizabeth Taylor in "The Mirror Cracked."


ELIZABETH TAYLOR, ACTOR: If you look at her carefully there are so many lines on her face, you could drive a train on it.

HUDSON: Maybe I won't shoot her through a filter.

TAYLOR: Filter? Try using an Indian blanket. You going to have to dub her voice in, too, or write a line in the script of Elizabeth is from Hoboken, New Jersey. Oh. Bags, bags, go away. Come right back on Doris Day.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, what do you know, you're in love. The mighty tree has been toppled. For years, I've been waiting to hear them yell timber over you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could be right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're darn right I'm right. You love her and she can't stand the sight of you. That's wonderful. That's what it is. It's wonderful. It almost makes the loose teeth worthwhile.


KING: You love Tony Randall?

OLSON: He is wonderful.

KING: What a special, special star he is?

OLSON: Well, he can do anything.

KING: Didn't Rock Hudson have an affair with Marilyn Maxwell (ph)?

OLSON: That was a long affair. They both adored each other. They were a couple for a long period of time in Hollywood. They never married.

KING: But it was physical?

OLSON: Sure it was.

KING: Oxnard, California, hello. CALLER: Yes. I would like to ask you ladies and gentlemen, please, anyone knows about Rock Hudson giving his life to the lord to Jesus. Leading up to the death, a nurse in the hospital or wherever he was led him to the lord.

KING: Did anyone hear that story? Does anyone know that to be true?


SMITH: Never heard that. No, I never heard that.

KING: Dale.


SMITH: ...knew it not to be true.

OLSON: No. That's a mistake. Rock in those days was incapable of making a decision of that sort but Pat Boone's wife who's very religious visited him and tried to -- tried to bring religion to him at the time. He simply wasn't able to respond to it.

KING: Didn't respond at all?


KING: Was he in a coma when he died?

OLSON: He was in a coma.


KING: What did you say Elaine.

STRITCH: I said he didn't -- forget what I said. It was so spontaneous that I forget.

KING: You forgot it already?

STRITCH: Larry, I want to tell you a little thing, typical of Rock. He loved to tell about his first line he ever spoke in a movie. They did 38 takes for him before they got it. And that's the kind of kidder he was. He had a good real take on himself. But you know, one of the -- just...

KING: Did he make -- I'm sorry.

STRITCH: I'm sorry. One of the things he said to Beau Hadley (ph), when Beau said, who was Rock Hudson? He said, there was no Rock Hudson, that person was a myth. And he was just Lloyd Fitzgerald.


KING: Gina, did he make you laugh? LOLLABRIGIDA: We laughed a lot, but I have an opinion that when he was young and when I met him in '61, he was a different person then what he became afterwards. After the episode, let's say, my film "What Happened With Us," then I did "Strange Bedfellows." And I think that was a change at that time. I don't think that he was gay when I met him. But I think that, you know, sometimes a lot of men in the middle of their lives for some reason they change completely. It's not that they're born being gay. This is what I think.

KING: New York City, hello. New York, are you there? OK. Good-bye.

Lincoln, Nebraska, hello.

CALLER: Yes. I was wondering, when did he tell you guys that he was gay and how did you take it when he told you that?

KING: Dale.

OLSON: We never discussed it. It wasn't necessary to discuss it because there was nothing about him that was anything other than a normal human being.

KING: He never said to you I am...

OLSON: No. There was no reason to discuss what his sexuality was.

KING: He never said it to Tony Randall?

He never said it to Gina?

Did he say it to you, Elaine?

STRICTH: What? That he was gay? No, no, no.


KING: Diane, did he ever say it to you?


LADD: Yes, yes, he did, Larry.

KING: He said it to you?

LADD: No. What he said to me was, to me and I have written about this in a spiritual self help book called "Spiralling through the School of Life." He and I had long talks and he told me that he had great guilt about women. He loved women. But he told me that he had difficulties because he felt that he had ruined his mother's body. And I said, what are you talking about, Rock? He said, I was too big a baby. I said, what do you mean? He said, I was too big a baby. And I said, well how big a baby were you? And he said, 9 pounds 1/2 ounces. I said, well, that's normal, Rock. He said, no, no. He said, I ruined my mother's life trying to get born. I tore my mother's body's up. And I said, hold on there Rock, my baby was 8 pounds, 9 ounces. God gave us with good equipment. Women tear and doctors fix it and we're as good add new. He said, no, no, Diane. Believe me, I have horrible guilt. I ruined my mother's body. I said, who told you that? He said, my mother. And the story goes on even more and I...

KING: I have to get a break. So the point was that was telling you he was gay?

LADD: That he had tremendous guilt about women. How do you love a woman completely if you feel that you have hurt your own mother's body?

That's a horrible thing to live with.

KING: We'll be back right after this. Don't go away.


HUSON: I want to go where you are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My sister's still here, Paul, with us.




UNIDNENTIFIED FEMALE: Better hope this is a boy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The baby. I just said, I'm hoping it's a boy.

HUDSON: What do you mean? I mean, why didn't you tell me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm telling you now.

HUDSON: Honey, I mean, why didn't you tell me? I mean, well, I should have known. Are you sure?



KING: By the way, the scene going to the break was from "Embryo" with Rock and Diane Lad. One more call, Denver, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I was wondering how long was he sick and was he himself surprised that he acquired AIDS?

KING: Dale? How long was he sick?

OLSON: Well, he was actually sick for a couple of years. But it was the last six months where he deteriorated a great deal.

KING: At death, was he awake or had he gone into a coma?

OLSON: I was not there at his bedside death but I believe he was in a coma. He certainly was not speaking or anything like that.

KING: Tony, how's he going to be remembered?

RANDALL: Oh, I think he'll be remembered as a movie star.

KING: You agree with that, Elaine?

STRITCH: Yes. I think he'll be remembered as a movie star, certainly, but I also think he'll be remembered among his peers for his humor.

KING: Gina Lollobridgeda's sculpture's by the way. She sculpts. Have been showed in Moscow and Venice. And later this month, they go on display at the Muse de la Monet in Paris, museum. That display running through December. We didn't know you did this, Gina. Congratulations.


KING: Gina the sculptress. Liz, how do you think Rock's going to be remembered?

SMITH: Well, I think he was like one of the ultimate of the last big movie stars of the '50s that followed the great wave of Clark Gable and people like that before him, but also, this thing of his being the first really famous person to have AIDS that is an indelible part of his legend. And, I hope he'll be remembered as a really wonderful guy he was mainly. He was wonderful.

KING: That also focuses -- his death focuses the White House's attention on AIDS, did it not?

RANDALL: Absolutely. We got...

KING: They were close friends?

RANDALL: Very close friends. Ronald Reagan called me directly to get in touch with him. Also, put through the first governmental moneys for AIDS research, $40 million. But I want to say that in addition to his being remembered as a movie star, I believe, and I'm very proud of this, that Rock Hudson will be remembered as the hero of AIDS awareness. Because he wanted that to be...

KING: His death, as Diane said, saved lives?

RANDALL: That's right.

KING: We want to thank the panel again. He died 18 years ago tomorrow, October 2. We thank Tony Randall, Gina Lollobrigida, Elaine Stritch, Liz Smith, Diane Ladd and Dale Olson. Before we leave you, we have some sad news to share. Attorney Robert Cardassian died last night after a brave eight-week battle with cancer. He died at his home surrounded by his family. And he was only 59 years old.

Now, you probably first heard about Robert Cardassian as O.J. Simpson's pal and lawyer. Around here, we knew him as a pretty good guy. And he will be missed and our thoughts and sympathy go out to his family. Life isn't fair. Be right back.


KING; It's hard to believe that Rock Hudson, tomorrow, will be gone 18 years. Boy, time flies.

John Edward returns to LARRY KING LIVE TOMORROW night. He says he communicates with the dead. One thing for sure about "NEWSNIGHT" there's nothing dead about that. Aaron Brown is one of the most alive broadcasters I know. And he's about to, once again, take the anchor seat and guide us through 1 hour of news with all those little people gathered around and Kelly is waiting right there. To go with him.

Aaron, the podium is yours.


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