Today in History: Actor Rock Hudson dies of AIDS

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'This Day in History': 10/02/1985 - Rock Hudson Dies of AIDS

On this day in 1985, actor Rock Hudson died from AIDS.

One of the most famous actors of his day, Rock Hudson was the quintessential leading man. With his dark brown hair, 6'4'' built, overall good looks, Hudson was what every casting director was looking for in the 50's and 60's. Because of this, Hudson was cast in a variety of films such as "Giant," alongside Elizabeth Taylor, and "Pillow Talk" with Doris Day, and then cast in the hit show, "Dynasty."

However, Hudson was hiding a secret back in the 60's that, at the time, would ruin his career: he was gay. Positioned as this straight heartthrob, he was forced to live a double life, that is until he acknowledged in 1985 that he had AIDS, a disease that was not only killing him, but thousands of people.

Rock Hudson
Rock Hudson's diagnosis would soon become the catalyst for all other AIDS patients. With his name in lights, Hudson became the face of the AIDS epidemic.

In an interview with People Magazine, Hudson's then doctor and the man who first identified the disease back in 1981, Dr. Michael Gottlieb, was in shock by how much influence Hudson truly had. "I never could have imagined he would be the pivotal person in the history of the AIDS epidemic, the single most influential patient ever."

Hudson's diagnosis was kept a secret until he collapsed in a hotel in Paris in 1984. Here, he was receiving treatment for the disease, which was then unavailable in the United States.

On October 2, 1985, Rock Hudson ultimately lost his battle to AIDS, but it's clear that his legacy and ultimate public acknowledgement of his disease helped saved the lives of thousands from that day forward.

Want to see more Rock Hudson? Click through the gallery below.

Rock Hudson's life in photos
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Today in History: Actor Rock Hudson dies of AIDS
Actor Rock Hudson is shown in Hollywood, Ca., in 1964. (AP Photo)
Rock Hudson (1925 - 1985) was born November 17 in Illinois of Swiss-Irish descent as Roy Scherer. He was married in 1955 to his agent's secretary, Phyllis Gates and during his career in Hollywood, moved from westerns to sob stories to sophisticated comedy. He died of AIDS in 1985. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
1956: American film star Rock Hudson (1925 - 1985). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Yvonne De Carlo and fellow actor Rock Hudson smile for the camera during a visit to London. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American actor Rock Hudon (1925 - 1985) leans against a sea foam green car in a parking lot, 1950s. (Photo by Getty Images)
13th March 1962: Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jean Mortenson or Norma Jean Baker, 1926 - 1962) receives her Golden Globe award from Rock Hudson (1925 - 1985) at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's 19th Annual Dinner. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Italian director Vittorio De Sica, left, and American actor Rock Hudson pose on a foot bridge in Venice, Italy, on April 8, 1957. In the background is the Ponte Del Sospiri, bridge of sighs. (AP Photo)
Rock Hudson, center, Elizabeth Taylor, left, and Mercedes McCambridge are shown during filming of the 1956 movie "Giant." (AP Photo)
Actors Rock Hudson and Juliet Prowse on stage, in the musical 'I Do, I Do', at the Phoenix Theatre, London, January 17th 1976. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Actress Veronica Hurst, with actor Rock Hudson on her right) being presented to Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Film Performance in Leicester Square, London, October 27th 1952. (Photo by Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Actor Rock Hudson and actress Dorothy Malone are shown on the set of "The Tarnished Angels" in Hollywood, Ca., in 1957. (AP Photo)
American actor Rock Hudson and Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida are the stars of the new film "Come September" which presently is shot at the Italian Riviera Resort, Santa Margherita Ligure, photographed September 10, 1960. (AP Photo/Remo Nassi)
Actor Rock Hudson wears a $7,000 mink coat over his swim shorts for a scene in the movie "Lover, Come Back" in Los Angeles, Ca., on Feb. 8, 1961. (AP Photo)
Film actor Rock Hudson, and Phyllis Gates, secretary to the actor's business agent, are pictured with a wedding cake after their marriage at Santa Barbara, Calif., Nov. 9, 1955. It was the first marriage for both. Hudson is 29 and the bride 25. They first met at the office of Hudson's agent, Henry Willson. (AP Photo)
During filming of the motion picture "This Earth is Mine" in California's Napa Valley, actor Rock Hudson is shown behind the steering wheel of a Mercedes Benz sports car, an automobile Adolf Hitler supposedly had custom-made for his girlfriend, actress Eva Braun, in this 1958 photograph. (AP Photo)
Actor Rock Hudson is shown during a news conference at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on Feb. 23, 1962. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)
American screen actor Rock Hudson (1925 - 1985). (Photo by R Jones/Getty Images)
Actor Rock Hudson poses in Los Angeles, Ca., in Aug. 1982. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)
American actor Rock Hudson pauses outside a restaurant in Studio City, Calif., while filming the TV series "The Devlin Connection," on September 10, 1981. (AP Photo/Wally Fong)
American movie star Rock Hudson attends to the American Film Festival of Deauville, 07 September 1984. (Photo credit should read MYCHELE DANIAU/AFP/Getty Images)
US actor Rock Hudson is pictured, on September 07, 1984 during the 10th American Film Festival. (Photo credit should read MYCHELE DANIAU/AFP/Getty Images)

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