was back in 1959 when Hollywood’s hunkiest leading man of over 40 pictures, Rock
Hudson was paired with the wholesome girl next door, Doris Day for the
first of their unforgettable trilogy of movies for Universal Pictures as
some would say a match made in on-screen heaven...
Pillow Talk, their
first film was to nurture an immediate bond between the two who had barely
met before. However, it was a well publicised fact at the time that Rock
had been a massive fan of Doris
[or Eunice as he would call
her] since her
big-band days when he was serving in the Navy.
"It was evening, and we
passed under the Golden Gate Bridge...its lights went on, and the voice of
Doris Day began singing 'Sentimental Journey' over the loud-speakers.
Well, that was the saddest bunch of sailors you ever saw. She had the
whole ship in tears, including me. Fifteen years later, Doris and I worked
together for the first time in Pillow Talk and by way of contrast, it was
laughter all the way..." - Rock Hudson
follows two strangers who share the same phone [party] line. Confrontations follow with the two very opposite
personalities falling out. Although, as soon as Hudson discovers exactly
who he is fueding with and more to the point how beautiful she is - things
we got under way, I had some apprehensions. I had never played comedy
before, and here I was, thrown together with one of Hollywood’s most
accomplished comediennes...but the best acting lesson came from Doris -
her sense of timing, her instincts - I just kept my eyes open and copied
her. I don’t really know what makes a movie team....I’d say, first of all,
the two people have to truly like each other, as Doris and I did, for that
shines through..." - Rock Hudson
The film’s upbeat feel,
something that Doris adored, was an International box-office triumph
something that was acknowledged by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences who nominated Doris for Best Actress. The movie itself
went on to receive Oscars for Best
Story and Best Screenplay. This critical and commercial revival
came at a time when Doris's career had begun to stall with her last two pictures only making a minor impressions
on movie goers. However, the winning formula of Pillow Talk
catapulted her back to being
a #1 box office attraction - a multi-million dollar trend which remarkably she
managed to sustain for a further 5 years.
"This girl has never had an acting lesson in her life but she draws on a wellspring of emotion and experience that
makes her one of the finest instinctive actresses in the world." - Michael
Gordon (Director of Pillow Talk)
The Way The Wind Blows producer Ross Hunter took the decision
to rename the picture after Doris's new song Pillow Talk
he believed was a hit in the making. The move proved savvy as all the
soundtrack songs proved to be as popular as the picture.
The couple were re-united
again in the smash 1961 movie Lover Come Back featuring the catchy title tune by Frank de Vol which
complimented the movie's playful Oscar nominated script and screenplay. Doris
again played the
independent career woman whilst Rock caused mischief as another cad. The story revolved around two
characters who worked for rival Madison Avenue advertising companies. A battle
eventually began over a non-existent product and a whole lot of laughs
Send Me No Flowers, their final movie in 1964,
may have featured a title song penned by pop maestros Burt Bacharach and
Hal David but it received a luke-warm response at a time when a sexual
revolution was beckoning leaving the slap-stick "sexless" comedies
very much out in the cold. In it, Rock
plays a hypochondriac who mistakenly thought he was on his death bed and so
began the quest to find his wife the perfect replacement husband.
Although after these three
pictures they were never destined to re-unite again on the big screen
they did collaborate for television. In 1971, Doris welcomed Rock as a guest on her musical
extravaganza for CBS aka the Doris Mary Anne Kappelhoff Special.
It was then years later
after bowing out from mainstream entertainment that she agreed in 1985 to return to
television in a new series for the Christian Broadcast Network, Doris
Day's Best Friends. Doris grasped this opportunity to call on many of
her old friends for support including dear
Rock who was to be featured on the debut show and press
||A long awaited reunion of the golden couple took place but
revealed something which Doris was not prepared for as Rock arrived looking
physically ill and a mere shadow of his former self.
Rock, whose real life had
been masqueraded by his strong heterosexual roles on film was in real life a gay
man who was now dying from what was then a unfathomable new virus called AIDS.
"...She asked me if I would speak to him and move him to a guest
cottage or property. She was gonna make chicken soup for the next 5 years
if that’s what it took she’d do anything to nurse him back to health...." -
Terry Melcher (Doris's Son)
Rock's last public appearance was to be with his pal
taping the show which saw them fondly reminiscing of the good old days.
"I miss those laughs we used to have" Doris
exclaimed. "Oh me too" Rock replied.
Immediately after the taping Rock
headed for treatment, boarding a plane for Paris in which he collapsed.
Two months later he died at the age of 60. The episode with Rock was
televised after his death accompanied with a heartfelt tribute from Doris:
"I had to have Rock Hudson as my first guest so I called him and he
said "I’ll be there....you can count on me" & that was the truth!
All his friends and there were so many could always count on him. He
didn’t talk about his illness any time...
...I can only tell you my friends it was a
heartbreaking time for me without my faith I would be a lot sadder than I
am today. I know that life is eternal and that something good is gonna
come from this experience..."
"Anyway let’s think of him with laughter ‘cause he was so funny!"