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Who’s Imitating Rock Hudson!—Troy Donahue

Troy Donahue stood alone in the corner. All around him in the crowded room people were laughing, joking, nibbling on hors d’oeuvres. But Troy stood alone, quietly. The only clue that he was even a part of the gathering was the glass, half-filled with melted ice cubes, held absently in one hand. He was staring at the man who stood in the center of a group of admirers, drawn to him by his charm, wit and good looks. But Troy’s reasons for watching so intently were different. He wasn’t amused, or charmed or entertained. He was studying the man; watching every gesture, every move, straining to hear every word. There was no doubt about it, Rock Hudson was the “star” of the party that night. He eclipsed everyone else standing in the room.

“What a man,” Troy heard a woman whisper to her escort, “I’d wash dishes for him day or night.” And her date, a good-looking man himself, just shrugged his shoulders in a positive gesture of agreement. “When that Hudson is around,” sighed a well-known television actor, “I feel like last prize at a Boy Scout convention.” Troy Donahue was determined to find out why and how Rock weaved such a spell over people.

Finally, the evening drew to a close. The guests had left and cluttered ash trays, half-filled glasses and crushed paper napkins littered the room. The party was over. Yet Rock, his date Marilyn Maxwell and Troy remained. They chatted with their host, agent Henry Willson.

Soon Willson excused himself to supervise the operation clean-up, and Marilyn went to powder her nose. Rock and Troy found themselves talking alone.

They weren’t strangers. Rock Hudson and Troy Donahue had several things in common. Besides both being represented by Willson, they are bachelors and they are both motion picture idols. When he first met Rock, Troy was one of an army of striving young actors in town. Rock had hit the big time, and Troy was having a tough time paying his rent. In fact, Troy remembered clearly the day they had met.

He was sitting in Willson’s reception office when Rock walked briskly through the door. The pretty receptionist snapped to attention. Rock removed a pair of dark sun-glasses and his face beamed with a broad smile.

“Is Mr. Willson in?” Rock asked the receptionist, who was practically swooning.

“Why yes, Mr. Hudson,” she promptly replied. “Go right in.”

This impressed Troy. Someday he would be in such a position, he thought to himself. Someday he would have doors open for him. Someday a pretty secretary would snap to attention for him.

Twenty minutes later the door to Willson’s office swung open again. Rock and Henry walked out. They stood chatting about Rock’s plans to sail to Catalina.

Then, suddenly, Henry said: “Oh, by the way, Rock, I have someone I’d like you to meet.”

Troy arose nervously.

“Meet Troy Donahue, Rock. I know he’ll be a big star someday.”

Rock extended his hand.

“Glad to meet you, Troy,” Rock said in a friendly manner. “Henry has been telling me a lot about you.”

Troy’s chest swelled with pride. Imagine, he thought, Rock knows about me.

Certainly Troy had the determination to become a big star, as did Rock in the early days of his career. And, again like Rock, Troy made the Hollywood big league in record time.

Two years ago the only way Troy could get any publicity would be to break an arm. Now it’s news if he stubs a toe.

From their first meeting, Troy not only established Rock as his idol, but Hudson took a brotherly interest in the young actor. The two have never been close, however. Perhaps it was because Troy is a product of the younger movie generation, a generation that is dominated by extroverts. Rock has always been more or less a loner. Night clubs don’t appeal to him, and he attends few parties.

The Hollywood “thrills”

Yet, at one time Rock did show a liking for the so-called “thrills” of Hollywood. He buddied around with Rod Taylor and Don Burnett. They went to parties together, they went sailing, they had dozens of dates with young starlets. But, with the passage of time. Rock grew out of this class. He began to spend more and more time alone on his sloop at Newport. He preferred spending an evening at home engrossed in a good novel to going out and living it up at a party.

And so the difference in ages and the difference in interests have kept Troy and Rock from becoming close friends. But, ironically—and until very recently—Troy was charting the same reckless course that Hudson found himself on at one point in his career.

“Too many times publicity goes to an actor’s head,” a time-wise Hollywood producer told Photoplay. “They begin to believe they’re great. Great actors. Great lovers. They think they can do no wrong.”

Whether Troy’s fast rise to stardom went to his head or fate held a stacked hand against him, he was undeniably in the “I can do no wrong” category last year.

Then, just when he had reached the position where he could walk into Henry Willson’s office unannounced and have a secretary snap to attention, Troy found himself in an ugly mess.

Much has been made of the night Lili Kardell, her clothes disarranged, her body bruised, staggered into a Hollywood receiving hospital. She claimed Troy beat her. His version was a different one. claiming his blows were in self-defense. The blame for the scandalous episode became secondary in the following months. What became important was the fact that a not too pleasant side of Troy Donahue was exposed to public ridicule. And one factor became blatantly obvious. He’d been on a “live-it-up” pace, playing Don Juan to the hilt, going out of his way to impress the opposite sex. And more damaging—he was dating other girls during the very time he was giving interviews telling how much he and Lili loved each other. They were to be married last July. Yet when he was on location for “SurfSide 6” in Florida that spring, he was seen every night with a different girl.

The dangerous “big head”

Luckily, the majority of his fans stuck by him during those scandal-headlined days. But some didn’t, and his studio fan mail contained some pretty bitter letters. Not only that, his co-workers began to look at him with a dim view. What happened with Lili was not their concern, but they didn’t like Troy’s attitude. “He has the big head,” one disgruntled studio employee said. “He doesn’t realize we helped to make him a star. He’s just part of the team. Without us carrying the ball he would be nothing.”

Rock Hudson, too, came in for his share of criticism early in his career. However, Rock’s life has been scandal free. He hit the headlines only twice—when he married Phyllis Gates and later when they divorced.

The break-up of the marriage was predictable almost from the day they wed. Rock and Phyllis had completely different interests. She liked to go to parties. Rock had had his share of running around. She liked to get out of the house, he wanted to settle back in an easy chair and enjoy his home. He looked forward to the day he could frolic on the floor with a son. But, unfortunately, there was no child born, and the short-lived marriage ended. But the experience didn’t sour Rock.

Anyone who’s ever worked with him. whether it be on a soundstage in Hollywood or a mosquito-infested location in South America, has only words of praise about him. Although he’s consistently been the top box-office attraction in the country, this success has never gone to his head.

One time on location for a picture outside Mexico City, the morale of the cast and crew was at a low ebb. The company was shooting in a remote area, miles away from the nearest town of any size. The small village where the company was staying was comprised only of a few stores and a broken-down hotel.

The temperature seldom dropped below 100 degrees, even at night. Everyone was in miserable spirits.

But not Rock. He thrives in any climate. And in this case, he sensed big trouble on the horizon unless something could be done to ease the tension. He came up with an idea. At his own expense he staged a fiesta, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in Mexico since.

The party lasted all day and until the wee hours of the next morning. Afterwards, the spirit of the company couldn’t have been better. They worked hard—and without a single gripe. And they talked for weeks about what a great party Rock gave.

Another time, Rock decided to vacation, following a picture, at an island resort in the Caribbean. He didn’t want to go alone, so he invited several studio associates. He picked up the tab for the entire trip.

Then there are other times when he wants to be alone—even without Marilyn Maxwell. Last May he flew to Germany to pick up a film award and then dropped out of sight for three weeks. Even his studio and agent had no idea that he had secretly flown to Spain and chosen a remote town on the Spanish Riviera to rest prior to his next picture. Even the townspeople didn’t recognize him with his heavy growth of black beard and dark glasses. That was the way Rock wanted it.

Certainly Rock’s standing in Hollywood is one to be admired. The one who admires it most is Troy Donahue.

That night at Henry Willson’s party the two in the late, late hours found themselves chatting alone.

The conversation appeared to have serious overtones. Rock’s face was stern. Troy’s was fixed in concern, like a younger boy listening to his older brother.

What kind of advice could Rock give Troy, you may wonder? And why should he want to help him?

Well, Rock probably knows as well as anyone the pitfalls of Hollywood. Purposely, he has avoided them, and maintained a public relations policy that could be the envy of any State Department. Not only does he realize the importance of good publicity, but also the need to be liked within the industry.

Rock probably pictures Troy as he was himself in his twenties. Perhaps he feels that he could have been in the same uncomfortable shoes as Troy, during the Lili Kardell incident, if he hadn’t guarded his reputation so carefully.

What he told Troy that night is a secret and remains one. However, the advice must have been constructive because the very next day Troy turned over a new leaf in the chapter of his life. Probably it unveiled the real Troy. A young man who has a lot to offer but had seemingly let Hollywood go to his head.

. . . just like Rock”

“I want to be just like Rock,” Troy announced to a stunned friend following Henry Willson’s party.

Troy meant what he said. too. Part of Rock’s advice undoubtedly was to repair the damage that already had been done. So the young actor, on Rock’s strong recommendation, hired Pat Fitzgerald as his press agent. Pat is a long-time friend of Rock and managed his press relations at the early part of his career.

Still, it takes more than words to change an actor. It takes action. But I have to admit that the new Troy is a changed person these days.

One story has it that Connie Stevens really kicked up her heels because Troy joined the “Hawaiian Eye” TV series. It was even said that she accidentally-on-purpose missed the plane scheduled to fly the two to location in Honolulu.

The old Troy probably would have blown his cork, refusing to do the series. The new Troy didn’t. Instead, he arranged to have a long talk with Connie. The two not only emerged friends, but had several dates while on the islands.

The other members of Troy’s team, his co-workers at Warners, have noticed a change, too. Like Rock Hudson, Troy is winning friends fast. It’s not just an act he’s putting on, either. It’s his true personality coming through, a personality that once was clouded by success. A year ago, if you mentioned Troy to bis co-workers at Warners they would walk away. Try it today, and their faces light up.

Another contributing factor to Troy’s determination to be like Rock Hudson is a female. Suzanne Pleshette has taught Troy that Hollywood glamour is only skin deep. She has made him feel secure as a man, something all those other stars he dated evidently couldn’t do. Nonetheless, whether Troy can become a second Rock Hudson, only he can determine. With his re-vitalized outlook on life, I think he can.


Rock is in “The Spiral Road” and will next be seen in “A Gathering of Eagles,” both for U-I. Troy co-stars in ABC-TV’s “SurfSide 6” every Monday, 9 P.M. EDT.



1 Comment
  • zoritoler imol
    30 Temmuz 2023

    Very interesting info! Perfect just what I was searching for!

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