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Heading For A Wedding?—Rock Hudson

The daisy could give you a better answer to this question. Ask Rock Hudson about his marriage plans and he fixes you with his to Ireland is just handsome boyish grin and says, “What marriage? I’m in no rush.”

Ask the same question of his steady girl, the blonde and beautiful Betty mi friendship on Rock’s part. Abbott, niece of comedian Bud Abbott and ace script girl at Universal Studios, and you get a similar answer.

“There’s always time to get married,” says Betty.

Ask them both when they’re together and they put on a show of diplomatic evasion.

“Don’t put me on a spot like that,” Rock will say.

He’s fond of Betty, isn’t he?

“Sure, I’m fond of her,” Rock will assert. “I think she’s the greatest. A very good friend.”

How long has she been a good friend?

“Five years, I guess. I met Betty on my first picture. I don’t know a finer girl.”

There’s no romance between you?

“I wouldn’t exactly say that,” Rock admits. “It’s just that we’re very good friends.”

These last few years, Rock has been in a lot of pictures. Which one is the most important to him?

“I guess I’d say Magnificent Obsession.”

Whom had he taken to the preview? It was said that he escorted two girls.

Rock grinned. “I took my mother and Betty.”

Despite the diplomacy, the hedging, the shying away from any talk about marriage, Betty Abbott is the number one girl in Rock Hudson’s life.

Last year when Rock came down with a near-ruptured appendix and had to be rushed to the hospital for an emergency operation it was Betty Abbott who stayed at his bedside. Rock kept referring to her as “Nurse Nancy.”

After the surgery, Rock urged Betty to go to Europe for her vacation. He knew she had been planning this first trip abroad for years. Betty demurred. Rock insisted. Betty finally went.

While she was crossing the Atlantic, the steward notified Betty that there was a radio call for her. The shore-to-ship operator out of New York was trying to get in touch with her. Not knowing what to expect, the attractive blonde ran to the phone.

It was Rock calling from Hollywood. “Having any laughs?” he asked.

Betty was delighted. What a considerate thing for Rock to do! He had thought she might be lonely aboard ship.

When Betty arrived at her hotel in London, weary from the trip up from Southampton, there was still another surprise. She found her room bedecked with flowers. Was this typical British hotel hospitality? No. The British are hospitable, but attached to one red rose was a card. On it was written, “Have fun! Rock.”

Presently Betty phoned him from Europe. These transatlantic phone calls are expensive, and most people don’t make them just to pass the time of day. There was need here for the sound of loved voices, the communication of kindred souls, the reassurance that one was thinking of the other no matter how vast the separation.

A few weeks later when Rock was down at Laguna Beach ostensibly recuperating, he went surf riding. The surf of the Pacific gets pretty rough, even for a six-foot, four-inch giant like Hudson. A wave caught the actor, upset his surfboard and banged him into a jutting boulder.

Result: a collar bone broken in three places, an ambulance ride from the Emergency Hospital in Laguna to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank, and eight long weeks of convalescence.

Betty Abbott was notified of the accident and she came back from Europe in a hurry. She denies that she cut short her trip because she was worried about Rock, but her friends tell it differently.

“Of course she was worried,” one of her close relatives insists. “After all, she and Rock have known each other for years. He lives just over the hill and he takes her to work each morning. Whenever he possibly can, he drives her home. They’ve been every place together. And Olive—that’s Betty’s mother—considers him one of the family. So naturally Betty was worried when he cracked up.

“I know that young people like to be nonchalant. It makes them feel more sophisticated. They don’t want to give vent to their emotions, but Betty is very fond of Rock. Naturally, she’s not going to say anything about marriage. But have you ever heard of a girl’s going around with a boy on and off for five years without thinking of him as a possible husband? Of course not.

“As for Rock, Im sure he’s thought of Betty as a wife, but like many men, he’s got to be shoved into marriage. I don’t care what anybody says, its women who do most of the proposing. And it so happens that Betty isn’t a forward girl.”

A studio employee who knows both Betty and Rock well, is of the opinion that Rock might ask Betty to marry him while they’re both in Europe this summer.

“When it was announced,” he explained “that Captain Lightfoot was going to-be shot in Ireland, Rock dropped hints all over the studio that it would be wonderful if somehow Betty could be assigned to it.

“She was. People around: here like to keep Rock happy. After all, he’s a pretty big noise. He doesn’t throw his weight around but he does get 4,000 fan letters a month. Magnificent Obsession is doing very good business and Rock is entitled to a few favors.

“Besides, Betty is a fine script girl. She’s been on—well, I’d say off-hand—at least nine of Rock’s pictures. She’s seen him under all kinds of pressure and she understands his moods and his ambitions.

As a matter of fact, these two young people couldn’t be more perfect for each other. He is twenty-eight or twenty-nine. Betty’s twenty-five or twenty-six. She’s pretty; she’s intelligent; she has a great figure and a nifty sense of humor. Her folks were in show business, and she knows all the problems an actor faces.

“I’ve been around Hollywood a long time, and I’ve never met a nicer kid. Matter of fact, if I weren’t married, I’d marry her myself.”

Rock Hudson uses the same sort of superlatives in talking about Betty—except that he avoids the marriage discussion. He described their first meeting.

“I was in this picture, Bright Victory, had a one-line or two-line bit. Didn’t know what it was all about. Betty was the script girl, and one day between setups, I wandered over and started talking to her. I guess it was about acting.

“She’s pretty, of course, but what really impressed me was her mind and her manner. Very knowing and very gentle.

“Lots of times you’ll meet a girl who’s one or the other. If she’s knowing there’s usually a tendency to be a little domineering. Not with Betty. I noticed that right away.

“Later on when we did other pictures together—when we were up in Oregon on Bend Of the River, particularly, I noticed how much at home she was everywhere—such an adaptable girl. Everyone is at ease talking to her.

“She’s got a wonderful sense of humor, too. But don’t get me wrong. She’s just a good friend.”

What Rock didn’t say about his “good friend” was that he was planning a rendezvous with her and Barbara Rush in Paris before Captain Lightfoot got underway.

With Barbara as chaperone, Rock and Betty planned to tour France. By this time the tour should be over and they both should be working in Ireland.

Whether the European vacation will change their status no one can be sure, yet.

One woman who hopes it will is Rock’s mother, Mrs. Kay Olson, a woman of character, humor, understanding and beauty.

“I surely hope,” Mrs. Olson says, “that Rock marries Betty if he marries anyone. I would love to have that girl as my daughter-in-law. I can’t tell you how much fun we have together.

“When my son lived just opposite Betty I used to see more of her than I do now. But I know they care for each other. Really care. If Roy (Mrs. Olson refers to her son by his real name) didn’t, why would he take her to all those previews, on all those dates?

“He’s shy about marriage. But that’s understandable in view of what he’s seen in connection with me. I’ve been married three times. The first two were horrible nightmares. I’m very happy now, but what Roy remembers is the first two, and you can’t blame him for taking his time.”

Rock Hudson’s father deserted his family back in Illinois when Rock was six years old. Just why he left Rock and his wife is difficult to determine. But he walked out on his wife and son and never came back.

Young Rock was thereupon sent to live with his grandmother. He was a good boy. The teachers at Skokie Grade School who remember him say he was always “big for his age but nice.”

In 1933 his mother obtained a divorce on grounds of desertion, and a few years later she married a Marine. This Marine adopted Rock, legally made him his son, but Rock hated him with a fervor that has never died.

If you mention the man’s name today, “If I ever see him,” he says, “well, I’ll try to control myself but I doubt if I can do it.”

Why does Rock feel this way about his stepfather? According to the actor, he was beaten mercilessly day after day for no reason whatever. And being the kind of boy he was, he never told his mother who was out working in Winnetka, supporting both him and his step-father.

“He used to beat Roy savagely,” Mrs. Olson recalls, “and the boy never told me about it until after I was divorced. Then he told me everything. I feel very sorry for that man if he ever crosses Roy’s path.”

As a child, Rock Hudson had no happy family life, no father to go to for help or money or guidance. It’s a tribute to his hard-working mother that he was graduated from New Trier Township High and that he developed into a young man of character and kindness and decency.

What he saw of marriage as a youngster has not disillusioned him but it has made him sensitive, extra careful.

Betty Abbott, who was born in Rochester, New York, and reared in Los Angeles, knows what happiness marriage can bring because hers has always been a happy home life. But when Rock looks back on his younger years, he grows sullen and meditative, and he realizes how happy he is now, just by comparison.

Because he is happy, Rock is reluctant to change his present state. But as his wonderful mother says, “Love has a way of moving men and mountains. Nothing would please me more than to have Betty and Roy return from Europe man and wife.”

With the exception of a few hundred girls in Hollywood who want Rock for themselves, most of the movie colony hones this will come to pass. “It’s a natural.”





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