SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
The definitive biography of the deeply complex and widely misunderstood matinee idol of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Devastatingly handsome, broad-shouldered and clean-cut, Rock Hudson was the ultimate movie star. The embodiment of romantic masculinity in American film throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, Hudson reigned supreme as the king of Hollywood.
As an Oscar-nominated leading man, Hudson won acclaim for his performances in glossy melodramas (Magnificent Obsession), western epics (Giant) and blockbuster bedroom farces (Pillow Talk). In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Hudson successfully transitioned to television; his long-running series McMillan & Wife and a recurring role on Dynasty introduced him to a whole new generation of fans.
The icon worshipped by moviegoers and beloved by his colleagues appeared to have it all. Yet beneath the suave and commanding star persona, there was an insecure, deeply conflicted, and all too vulnerable human being. Growing up poor in Winnetka, Illinois, Hudson was abandoned by his biological father, abused by an alcoholic stepfather, and controlled by his domineering mother.
Despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Hudson was determined to become an actor at all costs. After signing with the powerful but predatory agent Henry Willson, the young hopeful was transformed from a clumsy, tongue-tied truck driver into Universal Studio’s resident Adonis. In a more conservative era, Hudson’s wholesome, straight arrow screen image was at odds with his closeted homosexuality.
As a result of his gay relationships and clandestine affairs, Hudson was continually threatened with public exposure, not only by scandal sheets like Confidential but by a number of his own partners. For years, Hudson dodged questions concerning his private life, but in 1985 the public learned that the actor was battling AIDS. The disclosure that such a revered public figure had contracted the illness focused worldwide attention on the epidemic.
Drawing on more than 100 interviews with co-stars, family members and former companions, All That Heaven Allows finally delivers a complete and nuanced portrait of one of the most fascinating stars in cinema history.
Author Mark Griffin provides new details concerning Hudson’s troubled relationships with wife Phyllis Gates and boyfriend Marc Christian. And here, for the first time, is an in-depth exploration of Hudson’s classic films, including Written on the Wind, A Farewell to Arms, and the cult favorite Seconds. With unprecedented access to private journals, personal correspondence, and production files, Griffin pays homage to the idol whose life and death had a lasting impact on American culture.
About the Author
Mark Griffin is the author of A Hundred or More Hidden Things: The Life and Films of Vincente Minnelli. Griffin, whose writing has appeared in scores of publications, including The Boston Globe, recently appeared in the documentary Gene Kelly: To Live and Dance. He lives in Maine.
“Griffin has written a definitive biography, one that effectively toggles between gleeful gossip-dishing (as befits Hudson’s era of film-world glitz) and a genuine affection and admiration for the man behind the screen presence.”
— Boston Globe
“Exhaustive and empathetic…. Griffin fills in what’s left to say [about Hudson’s life] in between the lines with an impressive list of interviews with movie star friends, acquaintances and co-stars and also digs deep into private journals and correspondence.”
— USA Today
“Mark Griffin’s perceptive and sympathetic biography All That Heaven Allows gives Hudson, both the movie star and the man, the kind of reassessment only time can allow.”
— Associated Press
“All That Heaven Allows is by far the definitive biography Rock Hudson and his fans deserve.... Griffin offers an unforgettable, richly nuanced and psychologically intriguing portrait.”
— Shelf Awareness
“Like Rock Hudson’s life — marked by glory as a Hollywood star and pinup but also the lifelong shame of the closet and his AIDS-related death — his afterlife was blessed and cursed in equal measure. Mark Griffin sets the balance right in a full, empathetic biography, sparing few details about the complicated life of a man who was born (and died) too soon.”
“In Mark Griffin’s excellently captured biography of Rock Hudson, he offers not a sensationalistic portrait; but one that carries a heartfelt and realistic view of this actor, gay man, and glorious star of motion pictures. This is the best and most researched of the biographies on Hudson. Truly an expansive and honest book.”
— Rage Monthly
“All That Heaven Allows is a rich and complex story of Hollywood’s biggest star in its most golden age.”
— New York Journal of Books
“The hardest role Rock Hudson ever played was Rock Hudson. And he played it brilliantly. . . . Mark Griffin’s All that Heaven Allows goes behind the scripted characters to tell the real story.”
— New York Daily News
“This juicy biography explores Hudson’s rise to Hollywood fame, the extraordinary efforts to keep his sexuality a secret and the bombshell news of his AIDS diagnosis in the 1980s.”
“All That Heaven Allows dives into a lot of interesting phases of Rock’s life. . . . explain[ing] every facet of [his] life in extreme detail. Griffin touches on his life growing up, to making it onto the big screen, and everything in between.”
— Closer Weekly
“With sympathy for his subject, Griffin details the years of enforced hiding. . . . As he takes Hudson from tongue-tied novice to superstar, Griffin shows that [director Douglas] Sirk wasn’t wrong about his star’s essential qualities: the ones that colleagues loved, and the ones the neither the camera nor anyone else has ever lied about.”
— Sight and Sound Magazine
“At once the luckiest and unluckiest of men, Rock Hudson finally has the book that his fans have long been waiting for. This richly detailed biography is a revelation. Mark Griffin’s thoughtful and compelling All That Heaven Allows isn’t simply a book about one of the most determined and hard-working movie stars in the history of Hollywood, it also happens to be an insightful look at America in the second half of the 20th Century. Read it and weep.”
— Sam Kashner, co-author of The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters and the New York Times Bestseller, Furious Love
“Rock Hudson’s life story mingles the American Dream with nightmarish tragedy. This exhaustively researched book reconstructs the magnificent charade of a screen idol whose double life informed his haunting persona.”
— Patrick McGilligan, author of Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane
“Rock Hudson was the last machine-made movie star, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Audiences sensed Hudson’s basic kindness and responded with a loyalty that never wavered despite his predominantly passive career choices. All That Heaven Allows breaks new ground in its revelatory reporting on Hudson’s private life and, most important, in empathy for its subject.”
— Scott Eyman, author of John Wayne: The Life and Legend and Hank and Jim
“Mark Griffin paints a vivid portrait of a man who lived a double life in order to maintain his status as a movie star. Griffin’s sources are candid but credible, which makes the book a real page-turner. I came away admiring Hudson all the more, and feeling sad for the secret existence that Hollywood demanded of its leading men in the 1950s and 60s.”
— Leonard Maltin, author of Hooked on Hollywood: Discoveries from a Lifetime of Film Fandom
“A thoughtful exploration of the career and elusive private life of Rock Hudson…. An engrossing and carefully documented account of a beloved film icon’s life.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review) and a Best Nonfiction Book of 2018
“Griffin provides trenchant cinematic insight and social criticism along with an equally abundant trove of bon mots and anecdotes. Director Douglas Sirk, who worked with Hudson on eight films said, ‘The only thing which never let me down in Hollywood was my camera. And it was not wrong about Hudson.’ Griffin’s lens also puts Hudson in beautifully focused light.”
— Library Journal (starred review)
“Hudson’s rags-to-riches story is revealed by Griffin’s comprehensive overview of Hudson’s filmography as well as his frank but objective discussion of Hudson’s complicated personal life.”