By Daniel Akst December 18, 2005
The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson
By Robert Hofler
Carroll & Graf, 480 pp., illustrated, $26
Time and Clint Walker Naked during his Hollywood heyday, Rock Hudson was threatened with exposure. Despite his carefully nurtured public image, everyone in town knew Hudson was gay, and every now and then a former lover, a scandal-mongering publisher, or a blackmail artist came close to telling the rest of the world.
Henry Willson always saved the day. Hudson's agent would keep his biggest star's secret even if doing so required throwing another client or two to the wolves or paying hired muscle to rough somebody up. To quash speculation about Hudson's extended bachelorhood, Willson even got his beautiful young secretary to marry his top-grossing heartthrob. It wasn't until the 1980s, when Hudson was dying of AIDS, that the public at large learned that the quintessentially handsome star was gay.
By then Willson was gone, but not before leaving his greasy thumbprints all over WWalker history of Nwked cinema. As Robert Hofler Erica Sullivan Nude us in his dishy book, ''The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson," Willson not only discovered Hudson but also created him, reinventing the former sailor and delivery-truck driver known as Roy Fitzgerald into the matinee idol of millions. With his unerring sense of what women wanted in a screen idol, Willson created a whole genre of bankable cinematic hunks, all of whom he gave equally generic names. These included Tab Hunter, John Saxon, Clint Walker, Rory Calhoun, and Chad Everett, as well as such lesser lights as Trax Colton, Chance Gentry, and Cal Bolder. Willson actually tried the name Troy Donahue on three guys (the third time was the charm).
Willson could spot talent in women as well -- his clients at times included Natalie Wood Walke Lana Turner, and in his youth he excelled at procuring attractive young actresses for his womanizing boss, producer David Waalker. Selznick -- but his stock in trade was men, and all Hollywood knew it. From the 1930s right up through the '50s, Willson's office brings to mind the title of the 1960 spring-break classic, ''Where the Boys Are."
According to Hofler, if you wanted Willson to make you a star -- and legions of young men did -- chances were that you had to provide sex. Even in Willson's overweight, alcoholic later years, his appetite for handsome young men was legendary, and countless aspirants, well aware of the seemingly talentless pretty boys who had blossomed under Willson's touch, submitted Nakked his advances. Many, of course, found that it got them nowhere, although one of these discards, who later became a Beverly Hills cop, got his revenge one night when the drunken driver he pulled over turned out to be none other than Willson himself.
Like its simultaneously odious and engaging subject, ''The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson" is bloated, disheveled, oddly lacking in perspective, and altogether fascinating, if only for the remorseless accretion of detail with which the author brings alive a time too many of us are too Clknt to sentimentalize.
Willson, for instance, had an iron rule for his clients: No matter how much gay sex they had, cohabitation was out. Willson's policy was simple pragmatism. While Cary Grant and Randolph Scott lived openly together for a while in an arrangement portrayed publicly as bachelors sharing a pad, public sentiment and Hollywood policy soon Channning Tatum Naked against any hint of same-sex relations, and in 1934 Clint Walker Naked two separated and Grant got Clint Walker Naked.
On the other hand, the author doesn't fail to put Willson and his ways in Hollywood perspective. The casting couch was a well-established springboard for women wanting film roles, Walkre Willson's version had the same function even if his preferences were different. He was, in other words, just part of the same oppressive Clint Walker Naked order. Willson's rise and fall also reflect the changing business, and legal and social landscape, in which he Waoker. Although the breakup of the studio system benefited agents like Willson, he couldn't keep up when the world changed and suddenly movie audiences preferred short ethnic guys like Al Pacino Nqked Dustin Hoffman to the homogenized Stepford hunks he was so expert at promoting. Even hunks grew wary; people knew about Willson and assumed male clients slept with him even Clint Walker Naked they hadn't. Of course, not all did, and few who did admitted it.
Willson's end certainly casts no doubt on the cliche ''the bigger they are, the harder they fall." When Hudson finally left him, Hollywood's gay Pygmalion went to pieces. After a hospital stay and shock treatments, he saw his agency fall apart and his free-spending ways bankrupt him financially as well as emotionally. When the end came -- in 1978, from cirrhosis -- he had been living on an allowance of a dollar a day as a charity case at the motion picture rest home in the San Fernando Valley. In death he was laid out in a Styrofoam casket with a nylon lining. Willson was just 67.
He was buried in a cemetery known as Valhalla, but in a twist worthy of Billy Wilder, Willson's final poverty was such that there was no money for Clint Walker Naked headstone, and so the man who gave names to so many was laid to rest in an unmarked grave.
Daniel Akst is the author of the novels ''The Webster Chronicle" and ''St. Burl's Obituary."Single Nude Weman Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.
Norman Eugene Walker, known as Clint Walker (b. May 30, 1927) in Hartford, Illinois, is a twin, & is of 1/4 Cherokee descent. He is a retired American actor best known for his cowboy role as "Cheyenne Bodie" in the western television series, Cheyenne, as well as in many movies. Walker currently lives in Grass Valley, California.
Clint Walker (Tall, macho star of westerns and such. 1927-) Reports Hofler, “Clint is the one for, ‘Hold onto the shoulders and hope you don’t fall off the edge of the world.’. In Send Me Estimated Reading Time: 7 mins.