As mentioned yesterday, we believe that Rock Hudson — the first A-list Hollywood star to succumb of AIDS — was often an underestimated actor whose performances quietly buoyed many pictures.
Hudson’s career spanned almost four decades beginning in 1948 when the big Hollywood studios ruled. Later, in the Seventies, he was a big name television star in the McMillan & Wife series, later simply known as McMillan.
In yesterday’s quiz, undertaken as a tribute to Hudson, we’ve tried to emphasize the actor’s career.
So, herewith the answers to our Rock Hudson quiz.
1) Question: Hudson was nominated for a best actor Oscar in 1957 for his role as Texas rancher Bick Benedict in Giant. He didn’t win, but who did and which of the following were also nominated that year in the best actor category? a) Kirk Douglas, b) Walter Pidgeon; c) James Dean; d) Laurence Olivier; e) Yul Brynner.
1) Answer: a), c), d) and e). All except Walter Pidgeon were nominated; Yul Brynner won for 1956’s The King and I.
2) Question: It’s part of Hollywood lore that it took multiple takes get a satisfactory scene from Hudson in his first movie, in which he was required to deliver one line. How many takes did the scene require? a) 11; b) 38; c) nine; or d) 40. (And while you’re at it, can you identify the title of Hudson’s movie debut?)
2) Answer: b) 38. The movie was 1948’s Fighter Squadron.
3) Question: Did Hudson intensely dislike the strict limitations imposed on star actors by the old studio system? And didn’t he express his dissatisfaction early and often? a) True or 2) False?
3) Answer: b) False. Hudson liked and admired the old studio system. “The Studio took care of everything. They could get you a house, a car, airline tickets, special shoes,” he said. All you had to do was concentrate on your performance. There was no better method of training.”
4) Question: Two of these actresses were personally very close to Hudson during much of his professional life? Can you identify the pair? a) Mamie Van Doren and Jane Powell; b) Marilyn Maxwell and Claire Trevor; c) Dorothy Malone and Juliet Prowse; or d) Carol Burnett and Nancy Reagan.
4) Answer: Marilyn Maxwell and Claire Trevor. Hudson was certainly friendly with the others (although we are not certain about Mamie Van Doren) but remained closest to Maxwell and Trevor.
5) Question: Hudson’s closest male friends were a couple of B actors. Which of the following were they? a) Mark Miller and George Nader; b) Tab Hunter and Vincent Price; c) Marc Christian and Scott Thorson; or d) Rod Taylor and Don Burnett.
5) Answer: a) Mark Miller and George Nader. Both were friends with Hudson from the early Fifties on. He relied on both for friendship and advice.
6) Question: Which of the following were Hudson’s favorites of the movie he made? a) 1961’s Lover Come Back; b) 1959’s Pillow Talk; c) 1956’s Giant; or d) 1966’s Seconds.
6) Answer: All of the above. Hudson said he especially enjoyed making comedies as well sterner stuff such as John Frankenheimer’s 1966 thriller Seconds.
7) Question: Hudson’s admiration of Doris Day as a comedy partner was limitless. But he openly expressed disdain of another actress whom he felt was “not funny” but thought she was. Which of the following is that unfunny actress? a) Mae West; b) Shelley Winters; c) Zsa Zsa Gabor; or d) Jane Wyman.
7) Answer: b) Shelley Winters. Hudson once said: “I got to learn from (Pillow Talk costar) Doris (Day)…talk about knowing your craft! If I have to do another comedy with, say, Shelley Winters, that’s hard labor. She’s not funny and thinks she is. She’s got a voice that goes right through you… To try to do a comedy with someone who has no conception of what comedy is — that’s a killer. But Doris knows.” (Yup, that’s Doris and Rock pictured above.)
8) Question: Ok, we had to ask this one. How did Rock Hudson get his marquee name? (Any interpretation of this great moment will suffice.)
8) Answer: There are conflicting stories about how the former Roy Scherer Jr. became Rock Hudson. The conventional wisdom is that his screen named was coined by the actor’s first agent, Henry Willson, a shady but powerful figure who routinely invented names for his charges (including Tab Hunter and Guy Madison). Another view is that the monicker was devised one alcohol fueled Sunday in 1947 by a group of the actor’s acquaintances. The new surname supposedly was picked out of the Long Beach, California telephone book.
9) Question: Hudson was briefly married to the secretary of his agent. Can you name her? a) Vera Ellen; b) Julia Adams; c) Lori Nelson; or d) Phyllis Gates.
9) Answer: Hudson got married because it was considered “good for his career.” The bride was d) Phyllis Gates, the secretary to agent Henry Willson. The marriage lasted a little less than three years until August 1958.
10) Question: Hudson had a surprisingly difficult time adjusting to the demands of a TV series. Why? a) He disliked the director he worked with on McMillan & Wife; b) felt TV was a comedown from starring in movies; c) disliked the faster production pace necessitated on a series; or d) he resented the lousy scripts.
10) Answer: All except b) are correct. Hudson did not condescend to do TV. However, he expressed frustration with inept directors, lousy scripts and the high-pressure, fast pace of television production versus the more leisurely schedules of movie making.