Actor Rock Hudson became the first major US celebrity to die of complications from AIDS on this day in 1985.
Actor Rock Hudson became the first major US celebrity to die of complications from AIDS on this day in 1985.

DAY IN HISTORY: Rock Hudson dead from AIDS

ACTOR and 1950s heartthrob Rock Hudson became the first major US celebrity to die of complications from AIDS on this day in 1985.

Hudson made an inauspicious start to his silver screen career after it allegedly took 38 takes for him to successfully deliver his only line in the 1948 film Fighter Squadron.

However, Hudson's career took a massive step towards stardom when he signed with Universal Studios and was cast as the leading man in Scarlett Angel (1952).

But it was only when he partnered Jane Wyman in the 1954 hit Magnificent Obsession that he became a true Hollywood heavyweight.

The 1950s and 1960s were Hudson's domain - often regarded as the 'Star of the Year' of 'Favourite Leading Man' - and he nearly captured an Oscar for his performance in Giant.

Hudson added another string to his bow during this period - the part of romantic comedy star - and his fame continued to grow.

However, all stars dim from time to time and for Hudson, the late 60s saw his career take a nosedive, but he continued to find work during the 70s and 80s in television.

Hudson's health began to deteriorate in the early 1980s and he suffered a heart attack in 1981.

But despite successful emergency quintuple heart bypass surgery, the actor's health continued to decline and his gaunt appearance, lack of energy and incoherent speech began to raise questions.

Secretly, Hudson, who had long hidden his homosexuality, was diagnosed with HIV in June 1984.

But after a year of searching for a cure, Hudson, in 1985, admitted he had contracted AIDS, with the actor speculating he may have contracted it via blood transfusion during his heart surgery.

The news shocked the world with many ignoring the virus as the "gay plague".

However, his announcement, as Morgan Fairchild said, "gave AIDS a face" and the epidemic started to gain a spotlight, better funding and more pronounced research.

But there would be no miracle cure for Hudson and the actor died in the morning of October 2, 1985. He was just 59. 


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