The ex-boyfriend of old Hollywood heartthrob Rock Hudson has revealed the great lengths the actor went to conceal his gay identity and wishes his former flame ‘had been born 30 years later’ to live his truest self freely today.
Hudson was one of the hottest actors in Hollywood in the 1950s, who often fell in love with beauties like Doris Day and Jane Wyman on screen. But behind the camera, he was a closeted gay man.
He shocked tinsel town when he passed away in 1985 at the age of 59 of AIDS, making him the public face of the crisis.
His ex-boyfriend 81-year-old Lee Garlington, who was referred to as Hudson’s ‘true love’ in one of his posthumously published biographies, is lifting the lid on his whirlwind romance with the famous actor.
Lee Garlington, 81, dated Hollywood legend Rock Hudson (above) from 1962 to 1965 and is lifting the lid on their secret and whirlwind relationship where they weren’t allowed to take photos together
Garlington was a film extra when he first met Hudson in 1962 and they dated until 1965. He says that Hudson’s agent banned him from taking pictures with boyfriends for fear the world find out he was gay. They have just one photo together, pictured above
Garlington said that he keeps pictures of Hudson in an antique box at home – but they just have one together.
‘We couldn’t take any pictures together, it was too dangerous. We could only take pictures of each other,’ Garlington, a former stockbroker, said to People Magazine.
Garlington was a film extra when he first met Hudson in 1962.
‘He was the biggest movie star in the world, and the rumors were that he was gay. So I thought, “Let me get an eye on him,”‘ Garlington recalled to the magazine on how they first met.
‘I stood outside his cottage on the Universal lot, pretending to read Variety, which was probably upside down at the time. He walked out and down the street. He looked back once. That was it,’ he said.
They were later introduced through a mutual friend. The two dated from 1962 to 1965 before breaking up.
Garlington unearthed forgotten photos from his vacation with the famed actor to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 1963, following a suggestion from Hudson’s icon co-star Elizabeth Taylor, with whom he starred in the film Giant.
‘We walked on the beach and took pictures of each other with his camera and drove around in an open jeep,’ Garlington said to the magazine.
‘We just lived the life of two normal gay men that loved one another. There were no paparazzi and no one knew we were there. We were just comfortable being us,’ he added.
Hudson was one of the biggest men in Hollywood in the 1950s, sharing on-screen romances Doris Day. Hudson above with actress Mamie Van Doren in 1955
One of his biggest films includes the 1955 flick All That Heaven Allows, pictured above alongside Jane Wyman
He said they snapped a single photo together at a bar in New Orleans.
‘His agent told him that he was never to have one of his boyfriends in a photo because if anyone saw it, they would suspect he was gay,’ Garlington revealed.
Garlington said Hudson went to painstaking measures to conceal his true sexual identity.
Hudson ‘did not have the opportunity to live his life the way he wanted to and he had to go around hiding’.
‘I wish he had been born 30 or 40 years later. He’d be more relaxed and at ease and it would have been a happier life. He’d also be elated by how much has changed,’ he added.
Hudson was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984 but kept it to himself for a year. He shocked tinsel town when he publicly revealed he contracted AIDS a few months prior to his death in October 1985.
His coming out cast a new spotlight and spread public awareness on the AIDS epidemic.
He announced he was diagnosed with AIDS just months before he died in October 1985, succumbing to the disease. He came the public face of the epidemic, pictured left in 1985
‘Because he was so widely loved and appreciated, his admission changed so many people’s attitudes about AIDS. He had a huge impact, much more than he ever realized,’ Garlington said to the magazine.
Garlington never knew just how much he meant to Hudson until after his death when he learned from a biography that the actor called him his ‘true love’.
‘I broke down and cried. He said his mother and I were the only people he ever loved. I had no idea I meant that much to him,’ he said.
Garlington is now married to his partner Paul Garlington and they’ve been together for 32 years.
But he still fondly reflects on his young days with the world-famous star.