Rock Hudson

All posts tagged Rock Hudson

Shark Bait Retro Village (Pride Edition): Rock Hudson

Published June 21, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Immortalized as a romantic leading man, suavely surfacing in everything from frothy Doris Day gems to such lush, dramatic adventures as Giant, Rock Hudson, as many matinee types before him, grew a bit bolder as he aged. The lure of homogenized Hollywood behind him, he accepted darker roles in such projects as the 1971 comic slasher Pretty Maids All in a Row and 1976’s mad scientist inspired Embryo.

It was not these movies that deemed him worthy of immortalization as the subject of a television-film of the week, though. That distinction was due to the late-in-his-life revelation of his homosexuality and his subsequent death from AIDS shortly thereafter. This tragedy fully engaged the shocked public. This was perhaps the first widespread evidence of how blatantly the corporate dream machine could cover up the truth with fantasies and lies. It was also prime evidence of the diversity of the LGBTQIA community – yes, we were choreographers and costume designers, but we were also war heroes and construction workers…and masculine matinee idols. 

In consideration of that last occupation, the producers of 1990’s Rock Hudson definitely got their lead casting right. The handsome 6’ 5” Thomas Ian Griffith, who would go on to be a beloved part of the John Carpenter universe due to his powerfully villainous turn in Vampires, was cast as Hudson for the project. Genre fans are also sure to be thrilled with the presence of Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser, Child’s Play 3) as infamous agent Henry Willson and the ever-friendly Thom Mathews (Return of the Living Dead, Friday the 13th: Jason Lives) as Tim Murphy, an amalgamation of Hudson’s early career paramours. Of the three, Mathews, in particular, shines with an honest sensitivity and forthrightness.

The truest pleasures in this production may end there, though. The project itself follows the typical biopic beats – Rock overcoming an indifferent parent (a quirkily curt Diane Ladd), finding outrageous success and then experiencing a disheartening down curve in popularity. Even more blatantly irritating, though, are the scenes involving Phyllis Gates (Daphne Ashbrook), the woman the star married in 1955 to cover up his true orientation. Pretty much universally confirmed as nothing more than a tense business arrangement, the producers here spend many gauzy lensed moments detailing the relationship as a passionate romance. Griffith and Ashbrook flirt and cutely cavort, eventually making love in a tenderly glowing sequence. The actor’s same sex relationships definitely don’t get the same treatment here. Granted, the audience at the time may not have been able to accept the sight of a sweaty man-on-Mathews lip lock, but by playing it safe, this production suffers not only from a sense of falsehood but from a certain blandness, intimately familiar territory to we lovers of tele-films, as well.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

Hopelessly Devoted To: Marilyn Maxwell

Published May 16, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Marilyn Maxwell

Whether mocking the heroics of action cinema in 1956’s Forever Darling or reacting perfectly to the antics of comic Red Skeleton as the two explored a haunted house on his long running variety show, Marilyn Maxwell was always on the mark. One of those eclectically zaftig blondes that never got the attention she deserved despite her multiple talents, Maxwell has probably been best known, and then only to aggressive cinephiles, as the agreeable accomplice to such legends as Bob Hope, Lucille Ball and Skeleton.

Marilyn Maxwell Swing FeverBeginning her career as a beautiful background artist, often cast as supple showgirls, in such MGM epics as Presenting Lily Mars and Du Barry Was a Lady (which featured both Ball and Skeleton), Maxwell eventually graduated to leading roles in such silly efforts as The Show Off (again with Skeleton) and The Lemon Drop Kid (with Hope). Her first major role as entertainer Ginger Gray in 1943’s Swing Fever even had a bit of a genre connotation as it revolved around the ridiculous exploits of a band leader cursed with an evil eye.

Skilled as a singer and dancer, Maxwell was also a hit in USO shows for the troops during WWII and the Korean War. Apparently, she was a hit with Rock Hudson as well and, thusly, has been sporadically entering the news again as Hudson’s public profile blossoms due to Ryan Murphy’s recently released Hollywood series. Apparently, after initially being set up as one of the gay actor’s beards, the two quickly grew close and even contemplated marriage. Some reports even claim that their relationship may have gone past the friendship stage. Marilyn Maxwell and Rock Hudson 2

But more than anything, Maxwell, who died at the very young age of 50 due to heart problems, deserves to be remembered for her magnetic performances and joyful spirit. She was definitely one of kind. In fact, one can even imagine her spirit sprinkling out into the starlight, creating glittery energy and hopeful wanderlust for all those weary small-town kids living only for their future dreams.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

Marilyn Haunted Red

Maxwell haunted house hunting with Red

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Perry Lee Blackwell

Published September 15, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Perry Combo

She made two memorable film appearances and worked with many of the jazz greats throughout her career, but there is very little information available about the exquisitely talented Perry Lee Blackwell. Sometimes credited as Perri Lee, this joyous multi-hyphenate (pianist-organist-vocalist) released at least two recordings during her career and she was the featured performer at the historic Parisian Room in Los Angeles for many years, as well.

Nicely, her love of performing is apparent in her scenes in Dead Ringer, one of Bette Davis’ latter day gothic horror projects. While that film has a huge cult following, Blackwell is still probably best known for her iconic interactions with Doris Day and Rock Hudson in the beloved romantic comedy Pillow Talk.


With her recordings available from outlets like Discogs and a number of blogs beginning to extol her virtues, it seems like the perfect time to rediscover the amazing Blackwell, who, in her 90’s now, seems to truly appreciate hearing about the latter day love she has been receiving from fans.

Perry Lee Blackwell 1

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

Book Review: The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson

Published September 25, 2014 by biggayhorrorfan

I just took a long hot bath – in dollar store bleach! I still don’t exactly feel clean but, thankfully, the permanent scum encountered by reading Robert Hofler’s The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson (The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson) is definitely a joyous one!

Here, Hofler recounts the history of the moneyed Willson whose many smoothly muscular male clients paved the way for the term “beefcake”. Best known for creating Rock Hudson (Pretty Maids All In A Row, Embryo), Willson also was (at least initially) responsible for the careers of such terror bound clients as Rory Calhoun (Motel Hell), John Saxon (Black Christmas, A Nightmare on Elm Street), Tab Hunter (Grotesque, Cameron’s Closet), Troy Donahue (Blood Nasty, My Blood Runs Cold) and James Darren (Venus in Furs).



Portraying Hollywood as a cesspool of sexual manipulation, this sticky tome chronicles how Willson would mold his unrefined upstarts into camera ready studs. Of course, the extremely closeted agent often demanded sexual favors from his flock and Hudson, upon reaching the far heights of his fame, often indulged in Willson’s stable of up-and-comers, as well. In fact, if even half the allegations are true, this tale of seductions and internal homophobia is a mindboggling examination of the lengths that people will go to for fame in the often corrupt environs of Hollywood.



Of course, false or not, Willson’s account of (extremely well hung) cowboy star Calhoun’s affair with (fellow stud) Guy Madison is sure to be a delight filled revelation for lavender horror freaks who grew up relishing tales of Farmer Vincent’s fritters. Granted, Hofler does try to give equal weight to Willson’s kindnesses, however dubious they, ultimately, come off. Many colleagues defend Willson’s devotion to the young men under his influence, claiming that he truly took care of them, emotionally and financially, throughout the entirety of their careers. Hudson while painted as sexually voracious is also given props for his genuine humility. Although, Hudson’s best friend George Nader (Robot Monster) comes out looking the best of the bunch here by seeming to genuinely avoid all of the sordidness at hand.



Still, as dazzlingly enjoyable as this tome is for all its sheet stained revelations, this is ultimately a tale of sadness. In reality, Hollywood has changed little since Willson’s days of hush-hush dalliances. Combining this fact with the knowledge that Willson died a pauper and that Hudson’s status as the first truly famous victim of AIDS is perhaps more significant to history than his light footed eloquence in such classics as Pillow Talk marks The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson as both a sobering sociological study and a glitzy expose – a nimble feat for Hofler.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!