Rock Hudson (born Roy Harold Scherer, Jr., November 17, 1925 – October 2, 1985), was an American film and television actor. Though widely known as a leading man in the 1950s and 1960s (often starring in romantic comedies opposite Doris Day), Hudson is also recognized for dramatic roles in films such as Giant and Magnificent Obsession. In later years, Hudson found success in television, starring in the popular mystery series McMillan & Wife and landing a recurring role on the prime time soap opera Dynasty.
Hudson was voted "Star of the Year", "Favorite Leading Man", and similar titles by numerous movie magazines. The 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) tall actor was one of the most popular and well-known movie stars of the time. He completed nearly 70 motion pictures and starred in several television productions during a career that spanned over four decades.
Hudson died in 1985 and was the first major celebrity to die from an AIDS-related illness.
Hudson was born Roy Harold Scherer, Jr., in Winnetka, Illinois, the only child of Katherine Wood (of English and Irish descent), a telephone operator, and Roy Harold Scherer, Sr., (of German and Swiss descent) an auto mechanic who abandoned the family during the depths of the Great Depression. His mother remarried and his stepfather Wallace "Wally" Fitzgerald adopted him, changing his last name to Fitzgerald. Hudson's years at New Trier High School were unremarkable. He sang in the school's glee club and was remembered as a shy boy who delivered newspapers, ran errands and worked as a golf caddy.
After graduating from high school, he served in the Philippines as an aircraft mechanic for the United States Navy during World War II. In 1946, Hudson moved to the Los Angeles area to pursue an acting career and applied to the University of Southern California's dramatics program, but he was rejected owing to poor grades.
Hudson worked for a time as a truck driver, longing to be an actor but with no success in breaking into the movies. After sending talent scout Henry Willson his picture, Willson took Hudson on as a client in 1947. Willson's first task was to change his name to "Rock Hudson". Hudson later admitted he hated the name.