By Dan Wooding —
Viewed as a prominent “heartthrob” of the Hollywood Golden Age, Hudson achieved stardom with roles in films such as Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955) and Giant(1956), and found continued success with a string of romantic comedies co-starring Doris Day in Pillow Talk (1959), Lover Come Back (1961) and Send Me No Flowers (1964). After appearing in films including Seconds (1966), Tobruk(1967) and Ice Station Zebra (1968) during the late 1960s, Hudson began a second career in television through the 1970s and 1980s, starring in the popular mystery series McMillan & Wife and the soap opera Dynasty.
Boone, who had been friends with Rock Hudson, also known as Roy Fitzgerald, during his Hollywood acting days, said in an extraordinary interview for my “Front Page Radio” show, that he, his wife Shirley, and a Christian lady from New Zealand, had visited him as the hours ticked down before his passing, and were able to pray for him.
Boone, who had not talked publically before about his role in the death-bed conversation of Rock Hudson, explained that by the time they went to see him, he could not speak because of the ravages of AIDS, but responded with his eyes.
Pat Boone said: “I had known Rock when we were both making movies and we spent some time once at Western Costuming, when we were both trying on costumes for roles that we were going to play. He was such a manly guy.
“It there was anybody that Shirley would have swooned over, it would have been Rock Hudson, and it never occurred to me that maybe he might have preferred my company to Shirley’s, but in any case, he never betrayed that to me at all, and we were just kind of buddies.”
Boone said that he had come back into Hudson’s life when it became known that he was suffering from AIDS. “He was dying at that point, and nobody really knew how it was transferred, so a lot of his own friends were not coming to see him in those last days,” he said.
“But we knew where he lived up in the hills of Beverly Hills and we had met a couple of Christian nurses who were taking care of him. They told Shirley that they had prayed with Rock and that he was in very poor state, but very open to the Gospel, wanting to be known to the Lord as a believer — a Christian. Rock knew he was soon to meet God face-to-face; and he wanted to meet him as a Child of God, and the nurses were conveying this to him and he had even taken communion with them.
“So Shirley asked if it would be possible for us to come see him and they made the arrangement with his buddy, Tom, who was looking after him in Rock’s house. We went up twice just to meet and pray with him. He was emaciated, but even though he couldn’t speak because his throat had been ravaged by the disease, his eyes were shiny bright out of sunken sockets. He didn’t look like the Rock Hudson anybody had ever seen in his many films.
“He welcomed us even though he couldn’t speak, but you could tell by the eyes, that he was glad that we were there. We prayed with him and then we asked if we could come back again and he nodded ‘yes.’ So about two nights later Shirley and I, and a dear friend of ours from New Zealand, went back to see him again.”
As an elder of The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California, Boone knew of the scripture which says that if any of you are sick, let him call for elders of the church and let them anoint the sick with oil and pray over them in the name of the Lord and he can be healed.
“Tom had him propped up in bed and again his eyes shining very brightly welcoming us although he was just skin and bones,” said Boone. “And I said. ‘Roy’ – as I was now calling him Roy because his real name was Roy Fitzgerald — ‘we’re here and we love ya.’ Then I read this little scripture in James I and asked him he would be willing to let me anoint him with oil in the name of Jesus and pray over you and ask the Lord to heal you, and he nodded his head affirmatively.
“He was now in his pajamas and the top was open and still, not knowing how AIDS might be transferred, but remembering that Jesus touched lepers before he healed them, I just took the oil and I made a big sign of the cross in oil on his bare chest, and told him, ‘I’m doing this because Jesus died for our sins.’ I also said, ‘Jesus, the Bible says, in 1 Peter, that by his stripes we are healed. He died for our illness, our diseases, and our sins, and I’m doing this in His name and I’m asking him to heal you, Roy.
“He was obviously eager to receive it. Then Tom came in right after that and there was something that was brighter and kind of changed in Roy’s countenance. And Tom said, ‘Boy, Roy, you look better you’re gonna have a great day tomorrow man. I’m gonna lay out your happy clothes.’ And Roy nodded, we prayed again and left.
“The next morning, we got the word on the news that Rock Hudson had died. Well we couldn’t believe it. Shirley and her friend went up the hill to the house again, and there was the hearse. They had not taken him out, but they were getting some things together. Tom, Shirley, and her friend, were allowed to go in and Shirley put her hands on Rock’s cold feet and prayed for him and asked the Lord to raise him. Tom told Shirley that he had put on Rock’s ‘happy clothes,’ opened the shutters to let the morning sunrise come in, and Rock passed looking at the rising sun propped up in bed in his ‘happy clothes.’
“We all wept afterwards, and I told Shirley, ‘You know it was a happy day. He went to be with the Lord. He was raised through a brand new body. AIDS had ruined his normal physical body, but now the Bible says we’re given new bodies eternal bodies. And now we believe that Roy Fitzgerald, better known as Rock Hudson, is there with the Lord and he’ll welcome us when we come to our eternal habitations. So that’s the story. Of course, they took him away to bury the body. But they didn’t bury Rock or Roy, as he was not in that body then.”
In a previous interview, Susan Stafford, the original hostess of “Wheel of Fortune,” had revealed how she was present when a Catholic priest led Rock Hudson in the “sinner’s prayer” to receive Jesus Christ into his life, just hours before his death.
Stafford, who preceded Vanna White as the first hostess on the popular American game show, “Wheel of Fortune,” (from January 6, 1975 until she left on October 22, 1982), told me, “Yes, it is true that Rock Hudson accepted Jesus Christ on his deathbed,” she told me. “I was staying with Rock Hudson at his home at the time, and Pat and Shirley Boone and also ‘Love Boat’ captain, Gavin MacLeod and his wife, Patti, came to pray with him.”
A born-again Christian, Stafford said that also there at that time was Fr. Terrance A. Sweeney, a five-time Emmy Award winning producer, an ex-Jesuit priest who was ordained to the priesthood on June 15, 1973.
“Rock was a Roman Catholic and so we called in Fr. Sweeney and he prayed the ‘sinner’s prayer,’ with him and then I prayed as did one of his nurses called Toni,” she said. “I later did Rock’s funeral.”
Susan went on to say, “He was a real gentleman and accepted it with a great sense of humor despite being in a lot of pain.”
I asked Susan to comment on Christians who criticize people who have HIV/AIDS and say that they “deserve to have the illness because of their lifestyle.”
“It’s easy to say this because I believe, with every portion of my heart, that you are talking to a sinner,” she said. “Some [of us] sin more than others, but we’re all sinners one way or the other. I do not think that a homosexual is less or more of a sinner than I am, and I don’t dare to judge that. Shame on the Christians that do it, because love is the answer. If we don’t love each other, and instead just keep on judging everybody, we’re not going to have any friends left.”
In the same interview, Pat Boone also talked about his upcoming historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land (http://patbooneisraeltour.com/) from May 9, 2019 – May 18, 2019, during which he, and his fellow pilgrims, will be helping celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel.
He mentioned that both he and Susan Stafford will be on the trip and would be happy to share more about the Rock Hudson story with their fellow pilgrims.
To listen to the complete interview with Pat Boone, please go to: http://frontpageradio.net/frontpageradiofiles/PatBooneFPR20180318Mono.mp3