Name at birth: Leroy Harold Scherer, Jr.
Rock Hudson grew up as Roy Fitzgerald, the name he took after he was adopted by his step-father. Tall and handsome, he was "discovered" and molded into a virile, square-jawed movie star, appearing as Rock Hudson in films such as the western Gun Fury (1953, with Donna Reed), the melodrama Magnificent Obsession (1954, with Jane Wyman) and the classic Giant (1956, with Elizabeth Taylor, and with Hudson receiving an Oscar nomination). Hudson then turned to romantic comedy and became one of the top box office stars of the late 1950s and early '60s, frequently appearing in films with Doris Day. Hudson became a TV star in the 1970s, starring for six seasons as the police commissioner of San Francisco in McMillan and Wife (1971-76). In the 1980s Hudson began to look increasingly gaunt and unwell; in 1985 it was announced that he was dying as a result of AIDS. Hudson was the first major movie star to admit to having AIDS, and his death, along with that of entertainer Liberace in 1987, helped bring AIDS to the forefront of the public mind.
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