|Born||Phyllis Lucille Gates
December 7, 1926
|Died||January 4, 2006
Marina del Rey, California
Cause of death
(m. 1955–1958) (divorced)
Phyllis Lucille Gates (December 7, 1926 – January 4, 2006) was an American secretary and interior decorator known for her three-year marriage to the actor Rock Hudson. The story of their marriage was depicted in the 1990 TV film Rock Hudson, starring Daphne Ashbrook (as Gates) and Thomas Ian Griffith (as Hudson).
Gates was born in Dawson, Minnesota, and raised on a farm. Early in her life, she worked as a sales clerk in a department store, airline stewardess, and secretary for a New York City talent agent, before moving to Hollywood to work for the Hollywood talent agent, Henry Willson, who represented actors Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter and Rory Calhoun.
Marriage to Rock Hudson
Gates met Rock Hudson in October 1954. They started dating some time later and were married in Santa Barbara, California, on November 9, 1955, shortly after he finished filming Giant. Following a brief honeymoon in Jamaica, their marriage began to disintegrate. They separated in 1957, following rumors that Hudson had committed adultery while on location in Italy for the film A Farewell to Arms. The rumors were later confirmed by a close friend of Gates's, who also revealed to her that the individual Hudson had the affair with was a man. The divorce was eventually finalized in 1958.
Gates later became a successful interior decorator. She died from lung cancer at her home in Marina del Rey, California, aged 79. She was survived by her sister Marvis Ketelsen and brother Russell Gates.
In her autobiography, published in 1987 after Hudson's 1985 death from AIDS, Gates wrote that she was in love with Hudson when they were married, and that she did not know Hudson was gay when they married, and that she was not complicit in his deception. Members of Hudson’s tightknit inner circle contradicted this, saying that Gates was fully aware that Rock had sex with men, and that it neither concerned nor alarmed her because Phyllis herself was lesbian.
After Phyllis Gates died on January 6, 2006, Robert Hofler, author of The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson wrote in The Advocate that Rock Hudson’s contemporaries told him uniformly that Phyllis Gates was a lesbian: “[Every] person I met who knew Gates called her a lesbian,” Hofler wrote. “Not straight, not bisexual, but lesbian.”
- Gates, Phyllis (1987) and Sara Davidson, My Husband, Rock Hudson, Doubleday, 232 pages. ISBN 978-0207157844
- Rock Hudson at the Internet Movie Database
- "Phyllis Gates, 80; Former Talent Agency Secretary Was Briefly Married to Rock Hudson in '50s". Los Angeles Times. August 9, 1987. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
- Hudson, Rock; and Sara Davidson (1986). Rock Hudson: His Story, William Morrow, 311 pages. ISBN 978-0688064723