Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Rock Hudson letters

Abstract

The Rock Hudson letters (dated 1985-1986; 0.06 cubic feet; 2 folders) comprise letters that document the well wishes sent to Rock Hudson from fans across the globe after it was revealed that he had AIDS in 1985.from fans across the globe in 1985.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Rock Hudson letters
Date
1985-1986 (inclusive)
Creator
Hudson, Rock, 1925-1985
Extent
0.06 Cubic Feet
Subjects
AIDS (Disease) -- Social aspects.
Gay community
Homosexuality
Religion
Arrangement
Collection is arranged by format. The Wade Hall Collection of American Letters has been processed into discrete collections based on provenance.
Finding Aid Author
Sarah Coblentz
Preferred Citation
2009ms132.0318: [identification of item], Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Rock Hudson letters, 1985-1986, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.
Repository
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Rock Hudson (1925-1985) was born Roy Harold Scherer, Jr. in Winnetka, Illinois to Roy Harold Scherer, Sr. and Katherine Wood. His father left the family during the Great Depression after losing his job and Hudson's mother remarried later to Wallace Fitzgerald. In 1944, Hudson joined the US Navy and served in the Philippines, discharged in 1946. He moved to Hollywood, California to pursue acting and in 1947, talent scout Henry Wilson took him on and helped Hudson create the stage name he is most well-known by, Rock Hudson. Hudson's first feature film was Fire Squadron (1948), however the movie that established Hudson as a star was Magnificent Obsession (1954). His success here led to him starring in Giant (1956) alongside Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. In 1959, Hudson was cast opposite Doris Day as the romantic lead in Pillow Talk, and later in Lover Come Back (1961) and Send Me No Flowers (1964). In the 1970s and 1980s, Hudson began to appear in television, including Macmillin and Wife and Dynasty.
In 1955, Hudson married Phyllis Gates (1925-2006), which many believe was to cover up the fact that Hudson was gay. The marriage lasted from 1955 to 1958, when Gates filed for divorce. During the course of his life, Hudson kept his sexuality and sexual partners private, until 1985, when Hudson announced that he had been living with an AIDS diagnosis since mid-1984. His announcement was a catalyst for public awareness of the growing worldwide epidemic. Hudson died from AIDS-related complications on October 2, 1985, in Beverly Hills, California surrounded by family and friends. He is widely recognized as the first major celebrity to die from an AIDS-related illness.
American Letters collector Wade Hall (1934-2015) was a native of Union Springs, Alabama. Starting in 1962, he lived in Louisville, where he taught English and chaired the English and Humanities/Arts programs at Kentucky Southern College and Bellarmine University. He also taught at the University of Illinois and the University of Florida. He held degrees from Troy State University (B.S.), the University of Alabama (M.A.), and the University of Illinois (Ph.D.). He served for two years in the U.S. Army in the mid-fifties. Dr. Hall was the author of books, monographs, articles, plays, and reviews relating to Kentucky, Alabama, and Southern history and literature. His most recent books include A Visit with Harlan Hubbard; High Upon a Hill: A History of Bellarmine College; A Song in Native Pastures: Randy Atcher's Life in Country Music; and Waters of Life from Conecuh Ridge.
Scope and Content
The Rock Hudson letters (dated 1985-1986; 0.06 cubic feet; 2 folders) comprise letters that document the well wishes sent to Rock Hudson from fans across the globe after it was revealed that he had AIDS in 1985. The letters from fans and well-wishers offer their prayers, support, and hopes for recovery or relief from suffering. Hudson received letters in English, French, German, and Spanish. Many letters offer wishes for better health along with urging to accept Jesus and religion into his life, and that Jesus will save him. One letter says that homosexuality is a sin and as such, he must repent to be able to go to heaven. Additionally, there is a newspaper clipping of Hudson memorabilia being auctioned off in 1986.
The Rock Hudson letters are part of the Wade Hall Collection of American letters, which includes correspondence and diaries from all over North America covering the time period of the Civil to Korean Wars. The materials were collected by Wade Hall and document everyday men and women.

Restrictions on Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
Use Restrictions
The physical rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.

Contents of the Collection

Letters to Rock Hudson, 1985

  • Box WH-11, folder 6
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Newspaper clipping, 1986 April 3

  • Box WH-11, folder 7
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UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center is open Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 4:00pm. Appointments are encouraged but not required. Schedule an appointment here.

Researchers must have an SCRC Researcher Account to request materials. View account set-up and use instructions here.

Questions? Contact SCRC via our Contact Form.

Requests

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You may come across language in UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center collections and online resources that you find harmful or offensive. SCRC collects materials from different cultures and time periods to preserve and make available the historical record. These materials document the time period when they were created and the view of their creator. As a result, some may demonstrate racist and offensive views that do not reflect the values of UK Libraries.

If you find description with problematic language that you think SCRC should review, please contact us at SCRC@uky.edu.