cover image All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson

All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson

Mark Griffin. Harper, $28.99 (496p) ISBN 978-0-06-240885-3

Griffin (A Hundred or More Hidden Things: The Life and Films of Vincente Minnelli) meticulously documents Rock Hudson’s private life as a closeted gay man against the backdrop of his glittering film career and public persona as a sophisticated ladies’ man. All the trappings of a Hollywood success story are present, and Griffin takes a scholarly, carefully researched look at Hudson’s early life and upbringing in a small Illinois town near Chicago, his complicated rise to fame, his off-the-books relationships with men, and his death from AIDS-related complications in 1985. The Hudson that emerges is at once a glamorous and tragic figure: constantly in fear of being exposed by the press and even his closest friends, Hudson lived a life of quiet desperation, manipulated by the studio star system, at the mercy of a predatory agent, and pursuing a string of secret and unsuccessful relationships with men. Despite a colorful cast of characters that ranges from Hollywood royalty (Carol Burnett, Doris Day, and Elizabeth Taylor all feature), to Newport Beach party boys, Hudson himself remains a cipher. As a result, film fans will find Griffin’s book an informative piece of scholarship, but not a particularly enjoyable story. [em](Dec.) [/em]