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Impertinent Interview—Rock Hudson

“How do you like being coupled romantically with girls that are simply friends?” I asked Rock Hudson. The question was prompted by the many magazine and gossip column items linking Rock romantically with the Countess Maria Cicogne, Betty Abbott, Phyllis Gates, Joan Crawford and many more.

Rock was quite vehement. “I hate rumors of any kind—about myself or about anyone else,” he told me. “It’s kid stuff. The stories are so ridiculous and so unnecessary. All a reporter has to do with me if he wants the truth is to pick up the phone and call me. The studio will always put him through to me, if he is an accredited Hollywood correspondent. And I will always level with him—or her.”

As an example of how even the most innocent-appearing rumors can become ridiculous, and sometimes even ugly, Rock cited the instance of the studio publicity man who wanted to find an easy way of turning down a television producer’s request. He asked the studio to let Rock do a personal appearance on TV to plug Rock’s new movie and, incidentally, the producer’s product. The publicity man took a deep breath, reached ’way out, and then said to the producer, “Rock has put on an awful lot of weight in the past few months and is too fat to appear on TV.” The producer passed the publicity man’s tall one along to a newspaperman. The newspaperman could have easily ascertained that Rock, all six-foot-four of him, weighed a lean-and-lanky 187 pounds at the time; instead he went ahead and printed Rock was fat, comparing the star to Mario Lanza. The TV show was called off because of the rumor and a producer at M-G-M giving credence to the falsehood, was talked out of trying to borrow Rock from his home studio, U-I, for a big movie.

“That was bad enough,” Rock said, “but not long after that incident a columnist printed a story that Betty Abbott caught me dining in a restaurant in Ireland with the Countess Maria Cicogne and became so infuriated at finding us together that she flew back to America! May I tell you the real truth about this incident—and also the true sequence of events? It goes like this:

“A few days after we finished shooting ‘Captain Lightfoot’ in Ireland I threw a dinner party for Betty, who’d been script girl on the picture, and Barbara Rush, the film’s co-star, at Les Ambassadeurs, a London club. Betty flew back to Hollywood. Her job was finished. The studio wanted her back in Hollywood to work on another picture there.

“Not long after that I visited Venice and met the Countess Maria. It was in Venice that I dined with the Countess. So how could Betty have caught us dining out together when Betty had long since gone home? As for a romance with the Countess, there was none.”

Rock is always amazed at each new rumor. That’s because he is so honest with himself. There is one rumor, however, that he kind of enjoys. That’s the one, and this I must confess I passed along to him at the end of our very pleasant interview, that he’s rumored to be one of the brightest and longest reigning stars in the Hollywood heavens.




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