Since Rock Hudson's death from AIDS in 1985, there have been numerous books about him published (including his own posthumous as-told-to autobiography). But Mark Griffin's intimate, engaging and superbly researched All That Heaven Allows is by far the definitive biography Rock Hudson and his fans deserve.
After a stint in the navy, the Illinois-born aspiring actor moved to Los Angeles. Talent scout Henry Wilson seduced him, added him as a client and changed his name from Roy Fitzgerald to Rock Hudson. Just seven years after his film debut, he earned a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for Giant in 1956. From 1957 to 1964, Hudson was ranked among the top five U.S. box office draws. Hudson's homosexuality was an open secret within Hollywood for decades, but it's surprising to find out just how open he was (after a brief arranged marriage). He lived with numerous men over the years and was remarkably forthright about surrounding himself with gay friends and visiting gay bars and sex clubs.
Griffin (A Hundred or More Hidden Things) interviewed Hudson's costars, family members and close friends (who also gave him access to diaries and unpublished memoirs). This chorus of insiders widens the biography's scope and paints a vivid, empathic and fascinating portrait of Hudson's private life, alcoholism and workaholic nature. Rock Hudson was a complex man who nurtured friendships for decades but briskly dissolved romantic relationships. Griffin offers an unforgettable, richly nuanced and psychologically intriguing portrait of a gay film star who survived within and outside the confines of his oppressive times and didn't lead a tortured life. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant