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The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson

The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson Cover

ISBN13: 9780786716074
ISBN10: 078671607x
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Henry Willson started off as a talent scout under powerhouse mogul David O. Selznick, for whom Willson procured women. The starmaker-to-be was therefore on the lookout for promising newcomers—as actors, lovers and sometimes both—when he received an unsolicited photograph from a movie star hopeful named Roy Scherer. Unbeknownst to Willson, the photograph of the handsome young man with bad teeth would have not only a career-defining impact for himself but, more importantly, redefine Hollywood's concept of the male heartthrob. Roy Scherer became Rock Hudson and for the next twenty-five years Henry Wilson became the man behind movie "beefcake." The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson delves into Willson's life in explicit, unsparing detail. Variety reporter Robert Hofler deftly chronicles Willson's maneuvers to sidestep the FBI's investigation into Hudson's sex life; the starmaker's use of off-duty L.A.P.D. cops and Mob ties to scare off Hudson's blackmailers; Hudson's "arranged" marriage to Willson's secretary, Phyllis Gates; as well as Hudson's affair with a Universal Pictures vice-president to help secure starring roles in Magnificent Obsession and Giant. Additionally, the book digs into Willson's other star clients, including Robert Wagner, Troy Donahue, Tab Hunter, and John Derek.

Review:

"Those who think Hollywood's current predatory political scene and celebrity partner-swapping activities are new phenomena would be wise to dive into this tell-all tale of Henry Willson, an agent who became a major star maker to actors like Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter and Troy Donahue in the 1950s. Rapacious, ambitious and fond of a sex-for-roles strategy, Willson (1911 — 1978) is a compelling character worthy of this extensive biography. His story, too, illustrates the rise of the studio star system, in which actresses were pimped out to movie executives by their agents, and actors married to cover their homosexual liaisons. Hofler, a former Variety senior editor now the publication's theater reporter, delves into this shadowy, sometimes seamy world with particular relish, and his writing has all the sizzle of the films his subjects starred in. He includes interviews with a number of Hollywood insiders (Roddy McDowall and Shirley Temple Black, to name two), and shows remarkable sympathy for Willson, offering a glimpse into a man and an era that may be past, but whose effects linger still. Photos. Agent, Mitch Douglas." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

"Variety" reporter Hofler deftly chronicles talent scout Henry Willson's creation of Rock Hudson and his maneuvers to sidestep the FBIUs investigation into Hudson's sex life. The author also digs into Willson's other star clients, including Robert Wagner, Troy Donahue, Tab Hunter, and John Derek.

About the Author

Robert Hofler has been Variety's New York-based theater reporter for over three years. Previously, he was a senior editor in Variety's L.A. office. He has also been an editor at Buzz, Life and Us magazines. His articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, the Washington Post and Premiere magazine. He lives in New York City.

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lamorelli, December 19, 2009 (view all comments by lamorelli)
I was saught out by Henry Wilson in 1960 after signed by 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. I was named "Trax Colton". I was naive and was promped by a New York City audition which happened accidentally. I was a car salesman in New Brunswick N.J. at the time. One day a musician who worked in Hollywood told me I should try the theatre. He would introduce me to an executive at MGM who thought I would be a good candidate. They were encouraging

I left for Hollywood and lived in Compton for one year and did not seek out or visit anyone regarding acting. Surprisingly, I saw a cousin of mine standing in the dorway of the then "Scawabs Drug Store" in Hollwyood. We commiserated and I later moved in with him and his room mate. One day an insurance man came to give my cousin's room mate a quote,upon leaving looked at me who was seated on the sofa in the living room. He said that I shold be in movies and offered to introduce me to a golf partner of his one, Bill Shiffrin, who was the agent for Bob Stack, Jayne Mansfield and others.

He was reluctant to see me or anyone but saw me as a favor. Upon entering his office he looked me over and said "talk about Valentinto, you are a rival if I ever saw one", He signed me and had one, Hank Roberts, one of his sub-agents take me aroung to the studios. Fox wanted to see me again and did finally sign me to a contract. At that time, Buddy Adler was head of produciton. He told me that I was what they needed there at Fox a poductive star. Unfortunately, Buddy Asler had a verile case of canser and died. That was unfortuante for me. Not to mention that the studio was having a financial problem and sold off all of the lot and leased the rest. While there, I was attending class with world renowned Sandy Meisner of Actor Studio. I acted in several sitcoms and one major movie and then was assigned the lead in a picture with Jayne Mansfield called "It Happened in Athens". Veriety did a piece in which they stated that the part which I played, the shepherd, was disarming. I was noticed by the "Blum" publication as one picked for stardom.

Unfortunately the studio released all the players and the time for contract players has passed.

I was signed with Herbet B. Leonard and did a part in the T.V. )."Naked Cituy" with one, Sandy Dennis, (later won an academy award).

Henry wilson did try to seduce me, but I made it quite clear that it was not going to happen and on that note he left me alone. I also met Rock Hudson in Rome on my way to Athens where the movie was to be shot. I stayed at my relatives home there. Rockk Hudson thought I was ging to stay there he then did show me a room and was told it was mine. I was shocked at this revelation. Well anyway. I declined that invitation. At that time and In that house I was Cary Grant and a bevy of other guys playing cards.

It is easy to be painted with a broad brush and if I had known that then I would never have signed with Wilson, thinking he would make me a star? I do not like these perverts and that is what they are. Life is too short to sell ones soul for fame. Would I have liked to be rich and famous? Sure who would not? But, I found it too expensive when juxtiposed to my integrity.

If intrested in seeing me young. Google "It Happened in Athens" and see a clip-me and Mansfield, in the movie.

Lou Morelli
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780786716074
Subtitle:
The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Author:
Hofler, Robert
Author:
Hoefler, Robert
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Entertainment & Performing Arts
Subject:
Business Aspects
Subject:
Motion picture industry
Subject:
Theatrical agents
Subject:
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Entertainment & Performing Arts
Subject:
Entertainment & Performing Arts - General
Subject:
Film & Video - History & Criticism
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20050920
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
40 BandW photos
Pages:
325
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 27.5 oz

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » Actors » Biographies
Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » Hollywood

The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 325 pages Carroll & Graf Publishers - English 9780786716074 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Those who think Hollywood's current predatory political scene and celebrity partner-swapping activities are new phenomena would be wise to dive into this tell-all tale of Henry Willson, an agent who became a major star maker to actors like Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter and Troy Donahue in the 1950s. Rapacious, ambitious and fond of a sex-for-roles strategy, Willson (1911 — 1978) is a compelling character worthy of this extensive biography. His story, too, illustrates the rise of the studio star system, in which actresses were pimped out to movie executives by their agents, and actors married to cover their homosexual liaisons. Hofler, a former Variety senior editor now the publication's theater reporter, delves into this shadowy, sometimes seamy world with particular relish, and his writing has all the sizzle of the films his subjects starred in. He includes interviews with a number of Hollywood insiders (Roddy McDowall and Shirley Temple Black, to name two), and shows remarkable sympathy for Willson, offering a glimpse into a man and an era that may be past, but whose effects linger still. Photos. Agent, Mitch Douglas." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , "Variety" reporter Hofler deftly chronicles talent scout Henry Willson's creation of Rock Hudson and his maneuvers to sidestep the FBIUs investigation into Hudson's sex life. The author also digs into Willson's other star clients, including Robert Wagner, Troy Donahue, Tab Hunter, and John Derek.
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