Were Doris Day And Rock Hudson In Love?

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Were Doris Day And Rock Hudson In Love?

In the 1950s and 1960s, Doris Day and Rock Hudson were responsible for some of the most legendary films of the 20th century. Their on-screen chemistry was, indeed, second-to-none,  but were Doris Day and Rock Hudson in love? When Doris Day died this week at the age of 97, fans of classic films were heartbroken. Considered “America’s Sweetheart with a Steely Resolve,” Doris Day was class and elegance personified on-screen, even though she led a complicated life off-screen. And part of her complicated legacy, of course, included Rock Hudson.

Let’s look at the partnership between these two legendary big-screen giants.

1. Doris Day admitted that she and Rock Hudson had amazing on-screen chemistry

In an interview with People Magazine, Doris Day said that she was able to have such great on-screen chemistry with her longtime co-star because they genuinely liked one another. She said that they enjoyed a warm and sincere friendship and that friendship was the driving force behind their classic on-screen performances. “He really has a great sense of humor. And he named me Eunice. He always had to have a name for me. There were many of them, but Eunice he liked best,” she told the outlet. “We had a marvelous time.”

Doris Day was a woman who was ahead of her time.

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2. She kept his secrets — and taught us empathy

When the AIDS virus was first identified in the early 1980s, the general population in the United States was woefully ignorant about the nature of the virus. In addition to not understanding the nature of the disease's transmission (many believed that it could be transmitted in the air, or by sharing utensils or plates), many people would discriminate against those who were diagnosed with AIDS. Additionally, there was an added layer of homophobia that was common — and, in fact, acceptable — at the time, making it all the more difficult for members of the LGBTQIA community to feel accepted by society.

But that’s where Doris Day’s friendship with Rock Hudson came in.

According to The Los Angeles Times, their decades-long friendship involved both trust and empathy. She kept the secret of his sexuality (he was “deep in the closet” in his lifetime), as well as the secret of his diagnosis, for many years. But she couldn’t hide it anymore when, in the early 1980s, he appeared as a guest on her talk show. There, he looked gaunt and unhealthy, sparking rumors about his declining health and the possibility of an HIV-positive diagnosis. Nevertheless, she kept a sunny disposition about him and even welcomed him with a warm hug. And it’s thanks to her friendship with Rock Hudson that we, as Americans, started to shift both our understanding of and our empathy towards the disease.

“Hudson was sick with AIDS. There had been rumors about his health, but a news conference in Carmel Valley, California, where Day lived, would be the first time the public saw how sickly Hudson was. That footage would become an essential part of America’s understanding of acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It also began a long battle against discrimination and intolerance of the disease,” said the outlet.

Doris Day taught us about compassion and empathy for people suffering from AIDS.

3. They struggled with being heteronormative

According to Vox, Doris Day and Rock Hudson were presented as the idyllic heterosexual couple of their day. But, their reality was a lot more complicated than that — between Rock Hudson’s life as a closeted homosexual who suffered from AIDS, and Doris Day’s failed marriages and increasingly public persona, they were cracking under the pressure of being presented as a “heteronormative” couple. “A kind of “Tom and Meg” of their day, Hudson and Day peddled heteronormativity as classic Americana. But Hudson’s status as a closeted queer man, along with Day’s own stature as a woman struggling to control her own financial and professional destiny, complicated that legacy and the wholesome frivolity of their all-American image,” said the outlet.

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Doris Day and Rock Hudson struggled with being "heteronormative."

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4. They created memories that will last through the generations

Although Doris Day and Rock Hudson didn’t have the type of relationship that they initially tried to project at the start of their careers, they helped create enough memories to last through the generations. “Fans will continue to laugh at her romantic comedies, admire her dramatic grit, marvel at her pitch and interpretation of so many great songs. She redefined what it meant to be a girl singer with a Big Band, and she broke the mold for Hollywood starlets. And for so many fans, young and old, the name Doris Day will always make us smile,” says The Daily Beast.

Doris Day will be remembered for generations to come.

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series. Find her online at www.bernadettegiacomazzo.com and www.longlivetheuprising.com.