Phyllis Lucille Gates
December 7, 1925
Dawson, Minnesota, U.S.
|Died||January 4, 2006 (aged 80)|
(m. 1955; div. 1958)
Phyllis Lucille Gates (December 7, 1925 – 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 TV film Rock Hudson (1990), 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 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 80. 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 and that she did not know Hudson was gay when they married, and was not complicit in his deception.
However, the author and journalist Robert Hofler wrote in the documented biography The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson : "Those who knew her (Gates) say she was a lesbian who tried to blackmail her movie star husband (Hudson)" or "She then became addicted to being the wife of a star, and didn't want the divorce (...) Phyllis could play around with women, but Rock had to remain faithful to her. In a way, she was just being pragmatic: she feared that Rock's exposure would ruin his fame, which was in turn her gravy train."
This was disputed by Gates in an interview with Larry King, in which she said people were trying to protect Hudson by spreading lies about her. Gates had been the one to initiate the divorce, based on her husband's behavior. Gates said she did not get much in the divorce because she did not want to take advantage of him. She never stopped loving him, and he was the 'love of her life'.
- Gates, Phyllis (1987) and Sara Davidson, My Husband, Rock Hudson, Doubleday, 232 pages. ISBN 978-0207157844
- Rock Hudson on IMDb
- "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.
- Hofler, Robert (February 28, 2006). "Outing Mrs. Rock Hudson". The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine). Regent Media – via Questia (subscription required) (2006): 46. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- Hudson, Rock and Davidson, Sara (1986). Rock Hudson: His Story, William Morrow, 311 pages. ISBN 978-0688064723
- Hofler, Robert (2014). The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson, Univ of Minnesota Press, 472 pages. ISBN 978-0816691296