When a Hollywood scandal sheet of the 1950s was going to OUT closeted heartthrob ROCK HUDSON, his manager cut a secret deal and outed another star instead!
RORY CALHOUN, a rising star, was nearly blacklisted after Confidential magazine cut a secret deal by Hollywood studio ops to keep their biggest, seeming hetero, male star ROCK HUDSON safely in the closet.
Calhoun, who was born Timothy Francis McCowan, had a troubled early life, drifting in and out of reform schools to hard time in San Quentin by the time he was 21.
After his release, he met actor Alan Ladd‘s agent wife Sue Carol Ladd who introduced him to David O. Selznick Studio employee Henry Willson who managed a stable of hunky young men who showed “promise” including Rock and Tab Hunter.
Willson carefully groomed his young protégé, and changed his name to Rory Calhoun.
Rory’s first public appearance was as Lana Turner’s male escort to the premiere of Hitchcock‘s Spellbound and after generating some PR heat, Selznick loaned Calhoun out to other studios.
After costarring with Shirley Temple and tough guy Edward G. Robinson, Calhoun’s star was on the rise as he soon appeared in two Marilyn Monroe films How to Marry a Millionaire, and River of No Return.
During Calhoun’s big build-up, Willson kept a firm grip on his leash.
After vetoing Calhoun’s engagement to French sex kitten Corinne Calvet, Wilson did the unthinkable – he sold out one client to protect another.
Shockingly, in 1955, Willson divulged hush-hush information and details about Calhoun’s years behind bars to Confidential magazine in exchange for the mag to not print a bombshell exposé revealing the secret gay life of superstar Rock Hudson.
Boldly, Calhoun tried to trump Confidential‘s “scoop” by going public first. The rising star still found his career stalled, and he never rose above B-movie status while working more in European films like sword and sandal epic The Colossus of Rhodes.
Calhoun would remain a a frequent guest star on TV shows before his death in 1999, and enjoy a big-screen return in the drive-in hits Motel Hell and Angel.
Hudson remained in the closet to his legion of fans despite long-standing rumors until his death from AIDS in 1985.
To Hollywood insiders, Rock’s closeted truth was NO secret.