Rock Hudson, who was Hollywood’s most in-demand leading man of the ’50s and ’60s, slept his way to the top of on the advice of Marilyn Monroe, a sensational new biography has claimed.
The pair had a fling – which has never been revealed before now – when Monroe was a struggling starlet, and she told him they really needed to seduce more useful people to find fame in Hollywood, saying: ‘Both of us will have to lie on a few casting couches’.
Following her advice, he pursued the biggest stars, did sexual favours for the married head of a Hollywood studio and confided to a childhood friend: ‘I want to be a movie star! And I don’t give a damn how many casting couches I have to lie on.’
These are among extraordinary revelations within a major new biography on Hudson by Darwin Porter, an award-winning film historian from North Carolina.
He knew the legendary star through mutual friends, including actor George Nader, to whom Hudson left his estate and is telling Hudson’s larger-than-life story thanks to their anecdotes.
The book will reveal Hudson’s relationships with some of cinema’s most desirable or powerful players, showing that a man who hid his homosexuality from the world until shortly before his death in 1985 had in fact been ‘bisexual for career advancement’.
A new biography of Rock Hudson has revealed his affair with Marilyn Monroe for the first time – and how the actress advised him to sleep his way to the top
The star was Hollywood’s most in-demand leading man in the ’50s and 60s and had affairs with men and women from Judy Garland to George Nader
Mr Porter is publishing details for the first time of affairs with Monroe, Judy Garland and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as Robert Taylor, Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power, among screen gods and goddesses.
‘He seduced everyone,’ Mr Porter said, describing the 6’4′ hunk as ‘a walking mass of testosterone’.
He added that, while Hollywood is today coming to terms with producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged abuse of power, and the apparent silence of those around him, it was ever thus in some ways.
He is revealing that Hudson did ‘sexual favours’ for Edward Muhl, the then head of Universal, ‘often in the afternoon, at 3pm, and secretaries knew that’.
Hudson presented Marilyn Monroe with a Golden Globe in 1962, after a short-lived affair which ended because she told him they would have to ‘lie on a lot of casting couches’
Mr Porter says of Muhl: ‘He had, shall we say, the knee pads to worship Rock. Muhl worshipped him. Of course, he had a wife and three kids, but so many of them did. It was the 1950s.’
In his book, he writes that Muhl launched Hudson into worldwide stardom: ‘One afternoon, [Hudson] was summoned to the executive offices, where Muhl awaited him… As was his custom, the studio chief got down on his knees, unzipped Rock’s fly… After Rock zipped up, Muhl told him the good news – his contract was going to be renewed.’
Hudson found fame after he was cast in Universal’s Magnificent Obsession, the 1954 tear-jerking melodrama co-starring Jane Wyman.
Mr Porter dismisses the suggestion that Hudson would have been bitter about the casting-couch.
Elizabeth Taylor starred with Hudson in Giant and was also one of his conquests, according to the book
He said that Nader told him: ‘Muhl said Rock was right up there with Marilyn Monroe. Both stars used sex to broker business deals, and saw sexual intercourse as little more than a handshake.’
‘Rock told Nader. If the head of Universal said that, wouldn’t you tell your best friend?’
Nader was also among those who disclosed the Monroe affair, which has ‘never been revealed’, Mr Porter said.
After Columbia studio refused to renew Monroe’s contract, she happened to meet Hudson in 1949, while drifting around the Universal lot.
Porter said: ‘Rock was very attracted to her. She said she hadn’t had breakfast since some gentleman the day before had bought her some. He said, I’ve got a ten-dollar bill burning a hole in my wallet? How about lunch with me’. He didn’t have much money.’
Hudson (pictured) allegedly performed ‘sexual favours’ for Edward Muhl, the then head of Universal
Their few dates included eating in a ‘hamburger den’. Porter said: ‘Finally, she said “we don’t want this to get more serious. Both of us will have to lie on a few casting couches”.’
Hudson took Marilyn’s advice and later they became friends.
‘This was 1949 and they were both desperately trying to make it. Neither one of them was a great actor like Sarah Bernhardt or Laurence Olivier,’ Porter explained. ‘They had to work their way up the ladder the best way they knew.’
The biography tells the story of a former truck driver called Roy Fitzgerald – he later changed his name to Rock Hudson – who rose to become the world’s number one box-office attraction. Much of Porter’s material has never been published before.
Monroe advised Hudson that they would both have to seduce more ‘useful’ figures in Hollywood if they wanted to get ahead
He shows that, even in an industry known for its promiscuity, Hudson had an incredible number of conquests. They included actress Jane Wyman, who fell in love with him.
Porter said: ‘She was divorced from Ronald Reagan by that time and married to Hollywood composer Fred Karger. Wyman and Rock had a fling.
‘She had this fondness for young men. She was a big star. In New York, for the premiere of Magnificent Obsession, she returned to her hotel suite and found Rock in bed with her husband.’
But his affair with Wyman paid off. He went on to be cast with her in All that Heaven Allows, the 1955 drama about a widow who falls for a younger man.
Hudson and Monroe went on to become friends after a short-lived fling
Mr Porter also has details of ‘a long involvement’ with Grace Kelly, once she was an established star, and with Judy Garland, after she got drunk at his first A-list Hollywood party and Hudson – then still unknown – drove her home.
Porter said: ‘That affair has never been written about.’
As with many of these actresses, friendships blossomed from initial flings.
Asked whether Monroe and Hudson might not have found stardom if they had not gone along with the casting couch and sexual favours, Mr Porter said: ‘I think almost certainly.’
He recalled once standing in the main station in Los Angeles and being struck by how many extraordinarily beautiful men and women were getting off the trains.
Rock Hudson, Erotic Fire and co-written with Danforth Prince, is released this weekend by US publishers Blood Moon Productions.