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Larry King Live
Rock Hudson's Ex-Lover Speaks OutAired March 29, 2001 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARC CHRISTIAN, ROCK HUDSON'S EX-LOVER: Rock Hudson continued to have sex with me after he found out he had AIDS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, imagine being the secret lover of Rock Hudson, macho movie star, Hollywood heart-throb and then learning he has AIDS from the television newscasts.
Marc Christian lived that nightmare, eventually winning a multimillion dollar settlement from Hudson's estate. He joins us for his first interview in nearly a decade.
And with him, his famed lawyer, Marvin Mitchelson, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Back in 1985, October 2 of 1985, at age 59, Rock Hudson passed away from AIDS. We're going to relive that now with an extraordinary story. Joining us for his first interview since he won his major suit and he appeared with us nearly 10 years ago is Marc Christian, former lover of Rock Hudson. Shortly after the court upheld his multi- million dollar award he won against that estate, he appeared on this program.
And with him is his famed lawyer, Marvin Mitchelson. He's the lawyer in the case against the estate. He's a longtime celebrity lawyer and he invented the term "palimony" with that famous lawsuit involving Lee Marvin.
Just to get things up to date, you were awarded $22 million. The judge reduced it to five. You eventually settled, right?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, we did.
KING: All legal things are over?
CHRISTIAN: It's all over.
KING: Did you think had you a good case right from the get-go?
MARVIN MITCHELSON, CHRISTIAN'S LAWYER: I thought it was not only a landmark case but a good case. KING: Landmark because it involved gays?
MITCHELSON: Not just involved gays, but involved the principle, you disclose to who you are with the problems you have. When you don't do that, you have a problem.
KING: We'll be coming back to you, Marvin. Let's go to the Marc Christian story. How did you meet?
CHRISTIAN: We met nearly 19 years ago, seems hard to believe. At the end of 1982.
KING: What were the circumstances?
CHRISTIAN: I had just worked for the Gore Vidal for Senate campaign, and...
KING: In New York?
CHRISTIAN: He ran for Senate here in California.
KING: Oh, he ran here. He ran for Congress in New York.
CHRISTIAN: Right, in 1960. After the campaign was over, we lost the primary to Jerry Brown, who then subsequently lost to Pete Wilson. A friend of mine was working for a bottle bill initiative, a thing to recycle bottles or whatever, and they needed someone to help out. So I went. And I was at a table, and I heard this big booming voice behind my ear, saying where the hell is the booze around here?
And I turned around, and it was Rock Hudson. I thought, what's he doing here? I didn't think of him as political. It turns out he really wasn't. We started talking about the campaign.
KING: He was there because his friends there?
CHRISTIAN: He came with a friend. And so, then we started talking music and he was very much into music, as well as, of course, being a film actor.
KING: Your specialty was...
CHRISTIAN: My specialty was sound engineering. So, basically, we just hit it off and he...
KING: So, you would take, like, his old records and put them on tape, getting the scratches out?
CHRISTIAN: Right, and in those days, of course, we're talking only 18, 19 years ago, it's pretty archaic. Today, I do it digitally with computer. But, then it was more cut and paste and filtering.
KING: When you met him, were there rumors he was gay?
CHRISTIAN: Oh, yeah.
KING: That was around a long time?
CHRISTIAN: I grew up just an hour from Hollywood in Orange County. So, most people here in California knew.
KING: And you were gay?
KING: And are gay. Did you have any kind of a crush -- was he someone you saw on screen and said, boy, I would like to know him?
CHRISTIAN: You know, not so much a crush, but I always, you know, from other people that had met him, I always heard what a nice guy he was. It just seemed to be something about him that was real human, really unique. So, it wasn't so much that I had a movie star crush. I had already been living here for ten years and I was a little bit...
KING: Were either of you involved at the time?
CHRISTIAN: No, not at the time.
KING: Did it happen quickly, the relationship?
CHRISTIAN: No, as a matter of fact, we dated for nine months before we did anything together. And I knew him a year before I moved in.
KING: Now, how...
CHRISTIAN: We were friends, basically.
KING: Explain this. Since then, 1985, no one came out of the closet. How did Rock Hudson date?
CHRISTIAN: That's a pretty good question, because at the time I was living with a woman, my friend Liberty. And he would come over.
KING: As a cover?
CHRISTIAN: No, no, no, she and I had a relationship for three years. But by then, we were just friends. He would come over at lunch time, I would come back from work and we go out to lunch. He never seemed to be uptight about in public, but we didn't do a lot of physical affection anything.
KING: But you'd go to dinner together?
CHRISTIAN: Oh, yes.
KING: And no one printed that in columns?
CHRISTIAN: No, the press was very very genteel 20 years ago, compared to today.
KING: You remember, as an onlooker, then Marvin, did you think Rock Hudson was gay? You lived here.
MITCHELSON: I lived here all my life.
KING: You heard the rumors...
MITCHELSON: I heard the rumors, but it just didn't seem like he was.
KING: No one looked less -- I don't know if you look gay...
CHRISTIAN: No, you look...
KING: Is there such a thing as looking gay?
CHRISTIAN: No, but if look at him in "Pillow Talk," you've got the Tony Randall character, and Tony Randall seems gay, but he's absolutely hetero, and you've got Rock, who was extremely macho and he was gay,or bisexual, so...
KING: And he had been married?
CHRISTIAN: He had been married, and he liked women as well.
KING: Was he -- when he was with you, did he also see women?
CHRISTIAN: No, not a bit.
KING: But he liked women?
CHRISTIAN: Oh, yes, very much so.
KING: Did he every talk about it? Did he say to you -- when a relationship began, like I'm living a lie, this is -- I'm going to get caught?
CHRISTIAN: Not so much that. But he was aware that -- it's hard to believe it's only 19 years ago, how the world has changed -- you have got "Will and Grace" on TV now and gay actors everywhere. But for a leading man to come out at that time still would have been pretty career-killing.
KING: Unheard of.
CHRISTIAN: But he had a friend, Armisted Maupin, the writer, who nearly got him out of the closet, because...
KING: Wanted him to come out of the closet?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, because by this time, Rock was in his late 40s, early 50s, and he really was at a point where he wanted to become a character actor. He didn't want to just go on his looks any longer. And Burt Lancaster made that move from leading man to character actor.
KING: He wanted that.
CHRISTIAN: Rock wanted that. KING: We'll pick it up in a minute; we're with Marc Christian and his attorney Marvin Mitchelson. This is LARRY KING LIVE, don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JANUARY 17, 1998)
KING: Here, you have a string of movie rolls where you were best friend.
TONY RANDALL: To Rock Hudson. Yes.
KING: Rock Hudson. Yes.
I had a wonderful chemistry with Rock too, the three of us, Rock, Doris and I. Doesn't happen very often.
KING: What was special about him?
RANDALL: He was an odd case. He learned to act after he was a star.
RANDALL: Yes, after he was a huge star, he learned how to act, he became a good actor. And it meant a lot to him.
KING: Was he a nice person?
RANDALL: Lovely, lovely, a lot of fun to be with on the set. He was impossible for me to believe he was gay.
RANDALL: He's the last guy in the world you would think -- 6'5", built like Tarzan, very virile. People would say, I just put it down to envious gossip. I didn't believe it for a moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OCTOBER 7, 2000)
KING: Did you know Rock Hudson?
LIZ SMITH, GOSSIP COLUMNIST: I did, I knew him very well.
KING: Was that one of the toughest periods for a writer and a friend?
SMITH: The end of his life was pretty awful. The rest of his life was wonderful, except that help to keep this secret about being gay.
KING: That was a secret you knew, right? SMITH: I didn't know it at first. I didn't know it when I first met him. I was just like any girl meeting Rock Hudson, I thought maybe I had a chance there. But we became friends. And still, he never discussed being homosexual, not with me anyway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Marc Christian and Marvin Mitchelson. When it began to be physical and serious, were you in love?
CHRISTIAN: Oh, yes.
KING: You moved into his house?
KING: Didn't that create any talk?
CHRISTIAN: Not really.
CHRISTIAN: You know, I didn't really even tell many of my friends when I first moved in. I just wanted it to be something that was just seen natural. Rock's friends knew. I met most of his friends, and his close friends knew that he was with me.
KING: Did his close friends know that he was gay?
CHRISTIAN: Oh, yes.
KING: The women too?
KING: Did actresses know?
CHRISTIAN: Oh, yes.
KING: Elizabeth Taylor said she didn't.
CHRISTIAN: Oh, she knew.
KING: No? Early on, maybe?
CHRISTIAN: Oh, not early on, perhaps, no.
KING: Not when they were working on "Giant."
CHRISTIAN: No, not on "Giant," no, but she knew, of course, later in his life.
KING: Yes, when everyone found out.
CHRISTIAN: Yes, yes.
KING: He changed the course of the whole effect of looking at Aids, and everything, didn't he? Wouldn't you agree with that?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, he did.
KING: What was he like as a boyfriend?
CHRISTIAN: He was a lot of fun. He was a very intelligent man, although it didn't always come off on screen because he kind of played the hunk. He loved reading books, he had a great sense of humor. Practical joker, he just had a sardonic sense of humor. And he was fun to be with. He would be with people he'd never met and he'd make you feel at ease. He never came off like the movie star.
CHRISTIAN: Very kind.
CHRISTIAN: Everything, you know, he just loved giving of himself, you know.
KING: And was he loyal to you?
CHRISTIAN: Pretty much, except for the issue of Aids.
KING: We'll get to that. But I mean he didn't see other men while he was seeing you?
CHRISTIAN: Oh, yes, as far as I know, no, he didn't.
KING: Did he ever say to you, "I'm going to come out?"
CHRISTIAN: He said he would like to, one day. And he said if he did come out and it didn't work out, he would like to leave Hollywood, and maybe move up the coast and build a house on the beach.
KING: Do you think he would be shocked if he looked at it today?
CHRISTIAN: Oh, Yes.
KING: "Will and Grace" would floor him?
CHRISTIAN: Oh yes. Yes, it would floor him. Yes, it really would.
KING: How quickly this is -- well, what does it do to you? What is the change for you like?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, well, you know, I gave up an acting career because of the lawsuit, and then I look around today and it's like everyone seems to be jumping out of the closet, and doesn't seem to affect anybody. I think if you're just honest and just, be yourself, and you're not carrying a political flag all over the place, people tend to accept you.
KING: OK, how did you find out he had Aids?
CHRISTIAN: Well, it was a series of events. I first asked him in springtime of '85, when he lost so much weight.
KING: And Aids was just in the news a couple years.
CHRISTIAN: Yes, it had been in a couple of years, and then most of the people affected were, ironically, in my age group, or a little bit older.
KING: Which was how old then?
CHRISTIAN: Well, at the time I was 30, 31. And I asked him, and he said I've been checked for cancer, I've been checked for everything, including the plague, meaning Aids, and I don't have it. And then the word got around the house that he had anorexia, which was typically a teenage female infliction. I didn't buy that either. I thought he probably had lung cancer. He was a very heavy smoker.
And the very day that the news broke, I was sitting in his living room, and he was over in Paris and he had collapsed. And his secretary called me and said, "We have very bad news, he's got liver cancer and they're going to say it on the news." And of course I'm devastated, thinking, "Liver cancer, it's inoperable."
So I'm watching the television, and Jenoit Coular (ph), who was the French press secretary for him, came on and said he has Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. And my first reaction was, "They just discovered this?" But then she said, later on, "which was diagnosed a year ago in the United States." And then I knew I had been lied to. It just was -- so I was devastated. I thought...
KING: Now he was everything good. Why do you think he didn't tell you?
CHRISTIAN: He was in total denial.
KING: So you're not angry at him?
CHRISTIAN: Now I'm not, no. I was then, of course. And fortunately I'm still HIV negative. But I, you know, when the years pass you kind of wonder to yourself, "Why he didn't tell me?" And I just think a lot of that had to do with the studio system. You know, he was a very young man, 20, 21. He was brought up by Universal. They do everything for you. You never write your own check, you never pay your own bill. You live in a fantasy land to a degree. And I think he probably thought, "This can't happen to me. And if I don't think I have it, then I won't have it."
KING: You never talked to him after that?
CHRISTIAN: Well, I did after the diagnosis, or I mean, after the television...
KING: And what did he say to you?
CHRISTIAN: He said, "When you have a disease like this, you're all alone." And I said, "No, you're not, not if you don't want to be. I would have been there for you." I didn't -- when my father was dying of lung cancer, I didn't run from him, and I certainly wouldn't have run from Rock...
KING: But you were in jeopardy at this announcement.
CHRISTIAN: Yes, I was, but you know, if he had told me when he was diagnosed, I couldn't blame him. You know, its' kind of the risk you take when you're with somebody. And if he didn't know it, it wouldn't have been criminally liable. It's...
KING: It didn't come from you?
CHRISTIAN: Right, but it's when he found out he had it and then continued to have relations with me, that's where it got into the...
KING: A lot more to go with Marc Christian and Marvin Mitchelson, We'll check the legal angle of all this as well. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Rock Hudson has Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, which was diagnosed over a year ago in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")
BURT REYNOLDS, ACTOR: Richard Brooks, there wasn't a stronger, more...
REYNOLDS: Yes, rougher, tougher, ex-marine who's a great director, never worked with Rock Hudson, didn't know Rock Hudson. Went to his house every single day after he found out he was sick. And Rock Hudson used to say, "Why are you here?" And he said, "Because, my friend, Rock Hudson, to me, means movies and that's the business I'm in."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How much -- going back a bit -- we have a picture of him and John Wayne.
KING: You have a story?
CHRISTIAN: I have a funny story about that. They were doing a movie together in the late '60s, I believe. And I think it was called "The Undefeated," and of course, Rock was in awe of John Wayne, who was just the greatest male movie star of all time. And Wayne, at the beginning, picked on rock a bit.
He found out that Rock's real name was Roy Scherer, Junior, that he was a junior. So, he started calling Rock,"June," on the set, and I think he probably knew or heard rumors that Rock was gay. So, he kind of picked on him, calling him June. And after about a couple of weeks of this, Rock was just, you know, really incensed. He thought, "Oh, this guy must be a real ass."
But one of the crew members took pity on Rock and said, "Come over here." Rock came over and he said, "You want to know what John Wayne's real name is?" And he said, "What?" And he said, "Marion Morrison." So, at that point, the next day, when Wayne said, "Hey, June, come over here, we've got a scene to do." Rock said, "I'll be right there, Marion." And that broke the ice, and Wayne just -- they just became pals after that.
But Rock said that one of the funniest sights that he saw was early in the morning, they had a shoot, and John Wayne was sitting on a bolder out in the desert, and he didn't have his toupee on, and he'd been up real late the night before, and he was sitting there with a compact and lipstick, putting lipstick on, and Rock said, "Why are you putting on lipstick?" And Wayne said, "I've had so much to drink over the years, I have no color in my lips, and they told me I have to do this for the next scene."
But he loved John, he thought he was a great guy, a real man's man.
KING: Marvin, the fact he didn't tell him would be the same as if a man didn't tell a wife he had venereal disease?
KING: Exact same thing?
MITCHELSON: It's the non-disclosure, and then that creates what we call "intentional infliction of emotional distress."
KING: Even in a non-married relationship.
MITCHELSON: Even in a non-married relationship, certainly.
KING: It's a fraud.
MITCHELSON: It's a total fraud. And he lived his life worrying about that, day after day, year after year. KING: Did you wonder who gave it to him?
CHRISTIAN: Yeah, I did. I mean...
KING: Had you to think. But that could have been seven years ago...
CHRISTIAN: It could have been anybody. You know, there was even a slight possibility, when he had open heart surgery, it could have, you know, been from tainted blood.
KING: But probably it was...
CHRISTIAN: Probably sex, yes.
KING: When you confronted him, and he said it was because of -- did he know you were angry? Did he feel your -- did you ever let him know how you felt, or...
CHRISTIAN: No, I really didn't because by the time I was able to talk with him, he was so far gone, physically, to pick on him, or to get angry, it would have been just pointless. And I also was torn because I also felt sorry for him. You know, here he was dying, so on the one hand I'm angry I wasn't told, but then I'm looking at him and he's becoming a skeleton and he's just not...
KING: And he went on -- Doris Day had a television show, right? For a short time -- he guested on that show, anyone who saw that show. Was that his first-time major public television appearance? With the disease?
CHRISTIAN: Well, he did "Dynasty" about eight months before that.
KING: Looking very slim.
CHRISTIAN: Looking very slim. You know, in person, he looked great. and when you see him every day, you don't see when someone is losing weight. But when we saw the rushes from the show, you could tell there was -- he was too gaunt. And then, the weight loss after that was just very, very rapid.
KING: Were you watching the Doris Day thing?
KING: That was scary.
CHRISTIAN: Oh, it was. But he wouldn't hear any, he said I have to be there for Doris. He's a very loyal guy. He loved Doris a lot. And he just, you know, he would have crawled there for her, because it was her new TV series.
KING: When he looked that way, did he care what the public thought?
CHRISTIAN: I don't think he saw himself looking that way. I don't think he saw -- when he looked in the mirror, I don't think he saw the reality of it. What...
KING: He did not have AIDS denial, though, did he? I mean, he knew he had AIDS.
CHRISTIAN: Yeah, he did. Yeah, he did.
KING: And then he searched for a cure, right? Paris, is that true he went to Paris?
CHRISTIAN: Yeah, he was told that if he went to Paris to take an experimental drug treatment called HBA 23, that he could at least prolong his life. And he did go for two months, but they told him he should be there at least six, and he...
CHRISTIAN: Marvin, since he did admit it to him, didn't that change the story?
MITCHELSON: Well, it doesn't change what happened because Marc lived in fear that he would get AIDS at any moment. It's the non- disclosure, it's having sex a year after...
KING: So, as soon as he was diagnosed, he should have told you, and then it's your decision.
CHRISTIAN: Right, there was a 13-month lapse.
MITCHELSON: He put him at risk with all this...
KING: The fact that he found out from him later is immaterial.
We'll be right back with more of this fascinating story. Marc, it's been 10 years -- Marc, since he won the suit. It's been 16 years that Rock is gone. We'll be right back. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JULY 29, 1985)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am told that he is a very sick man. I do not know whether his condition has worsened or whether it remains the same, all I know is that he is coming home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The decision to come back to the United States was Mr. Hudson's decision. It has no reflection on the doctors in Paris or the hospital in Paris, but it reflects his desire to be here, which is where his home is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JULY 15, 1985)
QUESTION: Doris' show is about her best friend. Have you all managed to stay friends through the years?
DORIS DAY, ACTRESS: We certainly have.
DAY: We really love each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Since a lot of people, Marc, in the town knew that Rock was gay, did they know about you and Rock?
CHRISTIAN: Some did, some did. Some didn't. I wasn't, you know, although I was pretty comfortable with my own sexuality, I wasn't out there with banners, so people that knew me knew, but...
KING: But at the height of the rumor when Rock would have in a public restaurant, which is you and him, did people think it?
CHRISTIAN: Oh, I'm sure they did, yes.
KING: But they never said it to you?
CHRISTIAN: No. No.
KING: Now, why did you sue? Did you attempt to make some settlement without -- who did you sue?
CHRISTIAN: Basically, we sued the estate, because by the time we filed suit, Rock had died.
KING: Did he have any relatives?
CHRISTIAN: He had a half-sister, but he purposely cut her out of his will, I think.
KING: Was she the one that -- when you sued testate, who would have gotten -- if you didn't get any money, who would it have been?
CHRISTIAN: No, the two in the will were his friend and companion, I'm sorry, Rock's friend and his companion, George Nader, Mark Miller.
KING: They weren't his lovers?
CHRISTIAN: No, no, they were long-time friends of 35 years.
KING: And he left them money?
KING: You didn't challenge their getting the money?
CHRISTIAN: No. No. KING: So, you got the money from?
CHRISTIAN: The estate. So, the executors...
KING: Where would it have gone, Marvin?
MITCHELSON: It would have gone -- it goes -- if there's no will, we go by succession, whoever the relatives are left. There was designated in the other will, there were designation where it should go, but this was a creditor's claim. So, Marc came in with a creditor's claim.
KING: Like a bank, if you owe the bank money.
MITCHELSON: Right. And we held off doing this while he was alive. We weren't going to file.
KING: So, he gets his money, and then they share what's left?
MITCHELSON: Yes, they would. Then it would go by the will.
KING: Did you ask for a specific amount in the lawsuit?
MITCHELSON: Well, we asked for -- somewhat indefinite, we said in excess of five million. The jury came in with $22 million.
KING: Were you shocked at that, Marc?
CHRISTIAN: Oh, very, because as I was recalling to Marvin in the green room, when the jury foreman made the mistake of -- he didn't know how to write out 14 million, so he wrote out 14,500. And when it was read off in the courtroom, it was 14,500. And to me it was like, oh great, I won.
That's all I cared about, was that we were validated by the jury. But then our co-counsel, Harold Rhoden, brilliant, who was...
MITCHELSON: Wonderful -- who unfortunately died in a plane crash shortly after that.
CHRISTIAN: Incredible. Wonderful human being. Such a pearl, but he was writing down the amount, rather disappointed, and I was being the optimist, and I said no, it's probably 1,045,000. He thought it was 145, and then it came with the 14.
KING: And how did that come to 22?
MITCHELSON: Well, punitive damages were added onto it because of the intentional withholding.
KING: I see.
MITCHELSON: You see, we had two tort actions called intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress. CHRISTIAN: But ironically, the estate could have gotten off for nothing, because I had originally asked them -- I didn't have health insurance at the time. I said, you know, it takes about 100,000 a year to keep an AIDS patient alive, and life expectancy is between two and three years. They said why don't you put 300,000 into a trust, if I come down with HIV or AIDS in the next five years, I get the money for medical. If after five years I'm still HIV negative, the estate gets it all back.
KING: They said no to that?
CHRISTIAN: They said get out of here, go to hell.
MITCHELSON: I even went to New York, I tried to settle the case much less than the jury came in with the verdict, but they just wouldn't do it. They were arrogant, and said couldn't see the problem here.
KING: It was reduced to five million by the judge.
MITCHELSON: Reduced to 5.5 million.
KING: By the judge. That's kind of common, right?
MITCHELSON: Yes, well, that was a large verdict, and sometimes juries get angry, and that's this jury...
KING: And were they going to appeal that, and therefore you settled?
MITCHELSON: Well, they did appeal it.
CHRISTIAN: They did.
MITCHELSON: They appealed it all the way, and actually, the day that we won the appeal, they settled.
CHRISTIAN: Yeah, yeah, they came into the office not knowing we'd won the appeal.
MITCHELSON: I didn't tell them we won, we just settled it. But we settled it for just about what...
KING: Just about what the appeal was. Were you satisfied?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, I think so.
KING: Think you got the just rewards?
CHRISTIAN: Yes. And even then, like I said, it wasn't really the dollar amount, because if I had lost the case, I wouldn't have, you know, -- I was on, you know, contingency with Marvin, my lawyer. So with me, it was the fight to get the truth out there, and that was really for me the validation.
KING: When we come back, we'll go back to the death of Rock Hudson, right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY 1989)
CHRISTIAN: The jury has spoken, and I'm very pleased with it. It does send a message, a very strong message, that if you've got a disease like AIDS, you have a duty to warn your sexual partner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. By the way, tomorrow night, please watch tomorrow night's show. It deals with the 20th anniversary of the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. We have about 8 guests coming on, all including the doctor, Secret Service agent, people in the White House, all discussing the events, chronologically, as it happened that day. Please watch. That's tomorrow night.
Our guest tonight are Marc Christian, former lover of Rock Hudson, he last was on this show in June of '91, almost ten years, right after he won a court -- major award against the Rock Hudson estate.
With him is Marvin Mitchelson, Marc Christian's lawyer in that case. Long time celebrity lawyer who really got famous in 1976 with the "palimony" case involving the late Lee Marvin. Where were you when he died, Marc?
CHRISTIAN: I was in the home.
KING: In his house?
CHRISTIAN: Yes. He died -- by that time they had nurses brought in, so...
KING: He died at home?
CHRISTIAN: He died at home.
KING: You were there?
CHRISTIAN: I was there.
CHRISTIAN: I was actually in the theater room which was like kind of a converted garage made into a play room, living room. He was upstairs in his bed with the nurses. About, I think, it was 8:30 in the morning, they came down to tell me he passed away.
KING: Not shocked?
CHRISTIAN: No, we knew it was coming. But it still was a shock.
KING: How soon before had you spoken to him? When was the last time you spoke to him?
CHRISTIAN: The day before.
KING: Remember what you said?
CHRISTIAN: Basically, I was just asking him if I could get him anything, because he was pretty much mentally gone by then. He was in and out of consciousness, so...
KING: Losing memory? Did he know who he was?
CHRISTIAN: When he was conscious, his memory was OK. He knew who he was talking to. But, it was just so short.
KING: Did he know he was going to die?
CHRISTIAN: I think so, yes.
KING: At that time you weren't thinking lawsuit, were you?
KING: When did that come about?
CHRISTIAN: Well, actually before he died, I had contacted Marvin. The reason I did that is because his executor for his estate, told me I had to leave the house. And I said I'll be happy to leave if Rock asks me to. When I asked Rock, do you want me out? He said no. He didn't know what was going on. So, mainly, I asked Marvin what my legal rights were, to stay in the house as long as he was alive. But as soon as Rock did pass away, I moved out.
KING: You said he had the legal right to stay?
MITCHELSON: I thought help the legal right to stay until he died, then, of course, the estate rights might take over at that point.
KING: Since gays can't marry, were they a couple under the law?
MITCHELSON: Well, you see, you have domestic partnerships now in many states.
KING: But not in '85.
MITCHELSON: Not in '85.
KING: So, what were they?
MITCHELSON: Gays were probably like palimony people in that sense, they were people who have relationships with one another.
KING: This could be a partner in a business? MITCHELSON: Right. I point out, this was not a palimony lawsuit. This was a lawsuit about the non-disclosure of AIDS.
KING: This would be the same as if someone told me, Larry, you have a virus that's communicable -- forget sexual virus -- you have a strep throat, this strep throat could cause harm to people. If I come over and hug you and embrace you and tell you I'm having a great time, give you strep throat, I'm liable for that.
MITCHELSON: Sure. You're liable. Yes, every day of his life, I'm sure, Marc thinks, I hope I never get it, and God willing he won't, but he has to think of nine months or a year of having relationships with Rock Hudson.
KING: Aren't you free now?
CHRISTIAN: I would think so now, yes, because it's been 15 years and I had almost 30 tests, so...
KING: What was the court case like for you after they refused your seemingly mild offer?
CHRISTIAN: It was pretty ugly. They filed a counter suit against me to try to get help to drop my suit.
KING: Saying you were what?
CHRISTIAN: Saying I was a street hustler, drug addict, extortionist, arsonist, I don't know what they all came up with.
CHRISTIAN: Then,of course, on the eve of the trial, they dropped their counter suit. But I must say, that the actual trial itself went very smoothly. We had a great judge, great jury, .
KING: How long was the trial?
CHRISTIAN: Two months.
KING: What was it like thinking you had AIDS?
CHRISTIAN: It was like a walking death sentence. You just didn't know -- every time you would get a fever or a cold, you wonder if it's the onset of the disease. There was so much more paranoia back then, too. We didn't know if you could get from the sharing a coffee cup, or you know, so...
KING: Unbelievable. We'll be right back with more Marc Christian and Marvin Mitchelson. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JANUARY 15)
KING: Did you see him right before he died? ELIZABETH TAYLOR: Oh yes, I was with him the night before. And he couldn't remember today. He could remember yesterday. But he couldn't remember the present. And we laughed about making chocolate martinis and oh, he was just skin and bones and I thought I am going to do everything in my living power to get at this disease and kill it by its throat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY, 1989)
MITCHELSON: Even if Hudson hated Christian in June '84 when Hudson learned he had AIDS, he had the duty to warn him. Why? Well, aside from the fact that he'd no right to kill him, what if as a result of their continued sexual activity Christian contracted the virus, their affair broke up, and Christian infected somebody else? Somebody Hudson didn't know? That person then got the bug and infected somebody else and on and on. Hudson had a duty to warn.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Marc Christian and with Marvin Mitchelson. When you were on last time, Marc, you said you had never known anyone with AIDS. Rock Hudson was the first person you knew. Have you since known others?
CHRISTIAN: Unfortunately, yes.
KING: You've had friends die?
CHRISTIAN: I've lost 35 friends.
KING: 35 friends?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, including one of my very closest friends of 20 years, that I knew since a teenager and his brother. They both died.
KING: The stories around -- like, you can live much long with it now, with drugs, right?
KING: I mean, it's no longer a three-year death sentence.
CHRISTIAN: No, not necessarily. But most of the people I know who died from it didn't have the advantage of using the modern cocktails they have now, the drug cocktails.
KING: So, a lot of people mad at you when you won this case?
CHRISTIAN: Yeah, especially the gays.
CHRISTIAN: Well, I wasn't politically correct, for one.
KING: Why was that incorrect?
CHRISTIAN: I found out that I got a lot more vitriolic hatred from liberal gays than I did from conservative straight people. Straight people were great to me, because I think they found themselves in a position of, gee, if my wife or my husband hadn't told me, I'd know how he would feel.
KING: What was the argument with gays?
CHRISTIAN: I think that liberal gays think that if you had AIDS, you couldn't do any wrong. You could go out and infect anyone you want, you're the victim.
CHRISTIAN: There is this whole victim mentality that we have, not just in the gay world, but in America now, that it's always somebody else's fault. And you know, it's really about personal behavior. It's Rock's behavior I went after, not him as a human being.
But a lot of the groups like LANDA, GLAD, and amfAR, they didn't like me too much.
KING: In retrospect, can you understand his behavior? Remember, this is a new disease.
CHRISTIAN: I can understand his behavior, yes. But I think you still -- how can you not tell somebody and continue to have sex with them? It would be one thing if he stopped having sex with me and didn't tell me and ran off to a mountain somewhere. But I mean, to continue to act as if you're clean, and you...
KING: By the way, if he hadn't had sex with him once he learned of it, that would not have been a problem?
MITCHELSON: Would not have been a problem.
KING: We probably wouldn't have a lawsuit, right?
MITCHELSON: Probably no lawsuit.
KING: As soon as I know you know...
MITCHELSON: That's right. It's disclosure...
KING: ... we're clear.
MITCHELSON: ... that's the whole point.
KING: Did Rock ever get you any jobs?
CHRISTIAN: No, he didn't.
KING: Why not?
CHRISTIAN: I don't know.
KING: Did you ask him?
CHRISTIAN: You know, what he did do, he did get me with Nina Foch -- she was a great acting coach and a wonderful actress -- he did get me into things like that. But I think he was afraid if he did too much for me, he might get caught.
KING: Caught, yes, good point. Were there times during the relationship where he had to pretend by going out with women?
CHRISTIAN: Oh, yes.
KING: Like he would leave you to go out on a date?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, as a matter of fact, we went to the Ocsars in 1984, but he couldn't really sit with me. And then he found out he was going to be a presenter with Liza Minnelli, so he offered the tickets to my friend Liberty and myself to sit in the audience. So, if it would had been Rock and myself, "The Enquirer" would have had a field day.
KING: But he did -- he would see women?
CHRISTIAN: Oh yes.
KING: As a front?
CHRISTIAN: He had great friends, though, Piper Laurie, Elaine Stritch, of course, Doris Day and Elizabeth Taylor, and -- so he did love women, he had great relations with them.
KING: And didn't everybody like him?
CHRISTIAN: Just about. I never heard anyone that didn't like him.
KING: Did you ever hear bad words about him?
MITCHELSON: Never heard a bad word. He was a man's man actor, that's why he came across.
KING: And the most famous actor for a time in the world wasn't he?
CHRISTIAN: Sure, he was.
KING: Number one box office draw.
We'll be right back with more of Marc Christian and Marvin Mitchelson, don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SEPTEMBER 19, 2000) ANGIE DICKINSON, ACTRESS: Rock Hudson was fabulous. Very quiet, very shy man. We did "Pretty Maids All in a Row," and he was very warm, and just very restrained.
KING: Did you know he was gay?
DICKINSON: No, I don't think so.
DICKINSON: I don't -- that never was important in my life, so if -- I don't think I ever wondered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OCTOBER 7, 2000)
LIZ SMITH, GOSSIP COLUMNIST: He was a guy, a truck driver, who wanted to be a great actor. And they thrust him into romantic stardom. Well, if he had revealed his inclinations, he could never have been the big star he was.
KING: And didn't you help him keep the secret?
SMITH: I helped him to the extent -- I helped keep a woman from blackmailing him, because I happened to have a file on this woman for some unknown reason, and I sent it to him, and he showed to it her, and she dropped her blackmail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Rock Hudson did speak about this with writer Sara Davidson, and she wrote that she looked up the men Rock had been involved with, you and others. And they were all blond, tall, well- built, manly, could easily have been taken for straight.
CHRISTIAN: I think that's pretty true. I think he mainly was attracted to blond men that were straight-acting. Rock himself couldn't act like a queen if you asked him to. I mean, I once said: "Can you camp?" You know, just to see how far -- he couldn't do it. I mean, he looked really awkward trying to...
KING: So, he couldn't be...
CHRISTIAN: No, what you saw on the screen really was the way he was in real life. He really was very masculine.
KING: What kind of internal torture would that be, do you think, for someone to look like that, act like that? All parts are -- he's a sex symbol, and you're thinking, you would rather be with a guy? I mean, what must it have been -- did you ever talk to him about that? He's a heterosexual image.
CHRISTIAN: Well, because he was that way in real life, he was very masculine, it's not as if -- it's not that gay people want to be feminine. I mean, some gays obviously are, there are stereotypes. But...
KING: He didn't want to be a girl?
CHRISTIAN: He didn't want to be a girl. He was a man and liked being a man. He just happened to want to be with another man. But he didn't feel that he really wanted to be feminine, this was all a macho act, that wasn't Rock. He was as masculine as you saw on the screen.
So I don't think that was a problem. But I do think he wanted to live a more open life if he could have.
KING: The truth, Marc, you don't know why you're gay, do you?
CHRISTIAN: No, no, you're born that way.
KING: You don't know why men attract you and women don't?
CHRISTIAN: Oh, women do. I've had many relationships with women. So I'm one of those other people that the gays hate, which is called a bisexual, because they think you don't make a choice. And for me, I do make a choice. If I'm in a relationship with a man or woman, I'm with that person, but...
KING: So, you wouldn't cheat on a woman with a man?
CHRISTIAN: No, no, or vice versa. But I see women that have incredible bodies, and beautiful faces, and they're intelligent, why wouldn't I be attracted?
KING: So, you can't explain, though?
KING: Did Rock ever want family?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, he did. He told me once he thinks he even had a son.
CHRISTIAN: In Newport Beach.
KING: With who?
CHRISTIAN: Back -- you know, it was an actress, and I don't remember her name. It wasn't a real big actress, but they had an affair, and she did have a baby. And he kind of alluded that it might have been his, but -- so he always was wondering about that.
KING: Did you hire Marvin because of his fame?
CHRISTIAN: Yes and no. When I first heard -- well, I had heard of Marvin since I was a teenager, he is a very famous lawyer. And my first reaction was, I don't want to go to Marvin because he's palimony, and I don't want people to think I'm going to sue Rock for his mistake.
So I called three other lawyers, and every single one said you should talk to Marvin Mitchelson. So I thought OK, it won't hurt to talk. And I went into his office expecting this big guy sitting there trying to force me into a lawsuit, and he was the exact opposite. He was very sweet, he was very, you know -- he listened to me all the way through. He said, you know, I think you may have a cause of action here, by not being told, and he was very deliberate in getting the facts and taking it step-by-step, and not trying to -- because I didn't really want to have to go public.
I knew that any career I had would be finished if I did that. But, you know, the fighter in my knew that if I didn't see it through, I could never live with myself. But Marvin was so great in just saying, you know, let's see if we can do this without any publicity.
KING: And always tried for a settlement, right?
MITCHELSON: Tried it from day one.
KING: You're not the subject here tonight, Marvin, but I have to ask you. I would be remiss -- you did spend some time in prison?
MITCHELSON: I did.
KING: For income tax evasion. What was that like for a lawyer?
MITCHELSON: Well, it was not good, but I made it very positive in this sense: aside from palimony, in 1962, I went to the United States Supreme Court twice and argued for the right of all defendants who are convicted to have a free lawyer who can afford it.
That was not the law before 1962. And 90 percent of the people who were convicted had no money, and they had to fend for themselves. I won that case. It's called Douglas versus California...
KING: Famous case.
MITCHELSON: ... and they made it retroactive. So far, 10 million people have had free appeals. So when I had to go away, I helped everybody in prison. I got four people out of prison. You were allowed to be the best friend of someone who was there.
KING: You became a prison lawyer.
MITCHELSON: I became a prison lawyer. So I lived out the fact that I had made the law, and then I had to...
KING: And you're back practicing again?
MITCHELSON: Yes, I'm back practicing.
KING: You didn't lose your license?
MITCHELSON: No, I did not.
KING: You were pardoned?
MITCHELSON: I wasn't pardoned by Clinton, I didn't ask for it.
MITCHELSON: Maybe that's a good thing.
KING: Were you pardoned?
MITCHELSON: Well, I haven't asked for a pardon yet.
KING: And how did you get your law license back?
MITCHELSON: Well, I had a hearing, and the judge said, "You did a very good job, and helped people," and gave it back.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Marc Christian and Marvin Mitchelson on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCHELSON: Marc Christian asked him at a time whether he had this disease. He said he did not have it. He was suffering from anorexia. He was losing weight as a result of dieting and exercise, which was a deliberate lie at the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: AIDS -- were we late on that?
RONALD REAGAN, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think, no, certainly it was -- we were not unnecessarily so. It was a plain case of catching up with things, and I immediately appointed a commission to get into the whole problem of AIDS and come back with the recommendations of what we could and should be doing.
KING: You think Rock Hudson focused a lot of our attention on it?
REAGAN: Oh, I think that brought a lot of attention to it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back. The one thing everyone would admit -- that when Rock Hudson, when we knew Rock Hudson had AIDS, that changed the whole focus of AIDS, including -- from President Reagan on down.
CHRISTIAN: It really did.
KING: So the impact of his having AIDS, there sometimes says, "Bad produces good." I'll bet money was raised.
CHRISTIAN: Oh, yeah. Millions and millions was raised. And just the whole awareness of the disease. Before that, it was kind of a underground, you know, certain gays have it. And after Rock, it's like everyone thought, oh...
KING: Became a worldwide topic of conversation. The disease became extraordinarily -- for want of a better term -- famous.
KING: Because of Rock Hudson.
CHRISTIAN: That's right.
KING: Had there been other suits like this?
MITCHELSON: There have been some suits like that. But I think that after this suit made the news and was digested by everyone, people were more aware.
KING: They started telling.
MITCHELSON: And they started to ask questions. And there's been fewer suits as a result.
CHRISTIAN: It became a deterrent, if anything.
MITCHELSON: Yeah, it did become a deterrent.
KING: So his life proved worth?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, it did. I only wish that he had been more conscious to know of it, because he was pretty ill at the very end. But he would be rather pleased that he became a hero to some people.
KING: Are there pictures of Rock Hudson in your house?
CHRISTIAN: Yes. Yeah, I still -- and I still have a chair that he used in the, when he was a guest star at "Carol Burnett," has his name on it, and says "Carol Burnett Show." Have a great photograph of him above it. So, yeah, I have great memories of rock.
KING: When you've had subsequent relationships, Rock Hudson had to be the topic of everyone, male or female.
CHRISTIAN: Sure, sure.
KING: First date, it's all you want to talk about, right?
CHRISTIAN: Maybe not on the first. But later on, of course. And you know, it's not something that comes up all the time. It's not something that after I did my interview with you 10 years ago, I refused all interviews. I think E-Channel and A&E did a special -- you know, I just didn't want to rehash the past at that time because I knew they were going to look for dirt. The wanted me to bad things about Rock.
But that time is now passed, and I have great memories of him. And I think there's an interest in him now as a movie star. I think people are getting interested in who Rock Hudson was again.
KING: Lot of kids are seeing his old movies.
CHRISTIAN: Yeah, and I think that's great.
KING: Did you and him ever watch his movies together?
CHRISTIAN: Oh, yeah.
KING: What did he think of himself?
CHRISTIAN: He loved hating the bad movies, like "Taza, Son of Cochice"...
CHRISTIAN: There was some line about, "I'll take you to my wickiup," or something. And -- but he really, truly loved "Giant," and he loved the movie "Seconds," which was directed by John Frankenheimer.
KING: That was a failure, right?
CHRISTIAN: Yeah, yeah.
KING: But it was a wild movie.
CHRISTIAN: Oh, yeah. Science fiction.
KING: About a guy who -- science fiction, right? A guy who's what -- it's not his face?
CHRISTIAN: Yeah, he goes through this experimental procedure to make him young again, and the whole experiment goes awry. But he really acted his ass off on that. He was great. And he knew it. And he was only disappointed that the film didn't do better at the box office, but he got really incredible critical acclaim for it. It's become a cult classic since.
KING: And he liked the whole Hollywood scene, didn't he?
CHRISTIAN: Oh, yeah, yeah. He enjoyed parties, he enjoyed -- he enjoyed people.
KING: The red carpet...
KING: Well, Marvin, you've had a lot of great cases. This will go down as one of them.
MITCHELSON: Thank you.
KING: Good seeing you again.
MITCHELSON: Nice to see you.
KING: Long time.
Marc, thanks for coming back.
CHRISTIAN: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Marc Christian, the former lover of Rock Hudson, last on this program nearly 10 years ago. He won a multimillion dollar award against the Hudson estate, for Rock's failure to tell him help AIDS.
And Marvin Mitchelson, famed lawyer who invented the term "palimony."
Don't forget, tomorrow night we relive the 20th anniversary of the shooting of Ronald Reagan with a lot of people involved. Don't miss tomorrow night's show.
Stay tuned for "CNN TONIGHT." I'm Larry King. For our guests in Los Angeles, good night.
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