Featured Star: Rock Hudson
As Ben Warren in Gun Fury (1953)

"Solid as the Rock of Gibraltar and deep as the Hudson River," stated the agent who redubbed ex-trucker and Navy mechanic Roy Scherer, Jr., and he lived up to the hyperbole by parlaying his striking handsomeness into status as the demanded leading man of the '50s and '60s. Born in Winnetka, Illinois to a phone operator and mechanic who separated when he was eight, Roy opted to head to Los Angeles after his WWII service in pursuit of a Hollywood break. With more ambition than craft in his favor, he knocked around for months until Universal decided to roll the dice on him. A program of performance rigorous coaching awaited the re-named Hudson, who'd get his first screen break on loan to Warner in 1948's "Fighter Squadron"; Universal spent the next several years getting him fan magazine build-up and a string of small beefcake parts.

By 1952, the studio was entrusting him with costume and action leads ("Scarlet Angel," "The Lawless Breed," "Seminole," "Gun Fury," "Back to God's Country," "Taza, Son of Cochise"), but his breakout came with the 1954 remake of "Magnificent Obsession," as the playboy turned to medicine to quest for a cure for the woman (Jane Wyman) he accidentally blinded. Over the balance of the decade, Universal would alternate their now-hot property in similarly glossy melodramas ("One Desire," "Never Say Goodbye," "All That Heaven Allows," "Written On The Wind") and blood and thunder tales ("Captain Lightfoot," "Battle Hymn," "The Spiral Road").

It was on loan to Warner during this peak period that he'd garner his only Best Actor nomination from the AMPAS, as the driven oil baron in George Stevens' epic "Giant." As the `50s waned, he started another career niche, as his pairing with Doris Day in the frothy romantic comedy "Pillow Talk" spurred similar vehicle through the mid-`60s, with Day ("Lover Come Back," "Send Me No Flowers") and without ("Come September," "Man's Favorite Sport?," "Strange Bedfellows"). Though the mid-`60s commenced with hard-won praise for the cult classic "Seconds," the critical returns began to increasingly diminish ("Tobruk," "Ice Station Zebra," "The Undefeated."

The '70s found the middle-aged performer concentrating his attentions on TV, most notably a 1971-1977 run as the San Francisco PD Commissioner given an increased workload by danger-prone spouse Susan Saint James on "McMillan And Wife." With the series' end, he busied himself with the occasional big-screen project ("Avalanche," "The Mirror Crack'd," "The Ambassador") and telefilms ("The Martian Chronicle," "The Star Maker" "World War III"). By the time of his final gig, a stint on the TV series "Dynasty," Rock's declining health was apparent, and his July 1985 acknowledgment of his diagnosis with AIDS is regarded as a turning point with respect to public consciousness concerning the disease. Hudson passed away from AIDS-related complications the following October at 59.

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