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Marriage on the Rocks

Newly married to Rock Hudson, Phyllis reveled in being married to a hunky major Hollywood star. Things were not only wonderful now, but the future could only get better for the couple as his star would continue to rise. It was a life of movie premieres, limousines, fur coats, A-list parties, and first-class everything. Not bad for a working gal who was a secretary for Hudson's gay talent agent until she was invited to meet, date and then marry Rock.

But after about a year, cracks began to appear in the "perfect" marriage. It seems the bride and groom had different ideas about how marriage would change Rock's previously wild lifestyle. Phyllis figured the marriage marked a turning point, where Rock had discarded his bachelor naughty ways. He had sewn his wild oats (and had plenty sewn into him) but was now settled.  From the viewpoint of the groom, Rock saw the marriage more for what it actually was...a smart and necessary career move.  Having a wife meant that those nagging questions about girls and his homosexuality were calmed (smelling blood, Confidential magazine once had put out a standing offer of $10,000 for dirt on Hudson, a LOT of money back then). With a beard in place to cover his true sexual desires, and after playing along for the press about their straight marriage, Rock was now free to be promiscuous once more, something Phyllis clearly did not anticipate when she said yes. Their sex life, Gates wrote in ''My Husband, Rock Hudson," with Hollywood chronicler Bob Thomas in 1987, was usually ''brief and hurried," with Hudson once telling her in disgust that ''all women are dirty."

It's  now well known that Hudson had an almost insatiable appetite for pick-up sex with other men, something that he had acted on during his entire adult life. Being tall and good looking certainly helped his abilities to attract men for these quick relations, including (it's been reported) cruising the Farmers Market at 2:00 A.M looking for guys.  But unlike most gay men in the 1950's, Hudson enjoyed sexual freedoms that were out of reach for the average guy (having gay sex for most men included the constant risk of going to jail or prison if caught), thanks to both a talent agency and movie studios which had invested too-much into Rock's career to let him destroy their financial payoff at the box office.

There are however suggestions that one change generated by marriage was that Hudson took fewer risks with public sex spots and utilized instead the opportunities that had less-chance of getting arrested and were easily at his disposal as a big movie star...the hunky extras and stage crews at the studios, the young models and actors in search of a career at his talent agencys' office, and the beefcake meat invited to the all-male sex parties of Hollywood's selected gay community.  According to Gates, she fielded phone calls from young men, whom Hudson dismissed as ''fans," before he would then disappear for hours and not explain where he had been.

The sham of living a lie eventually tarnished the perks of money, fame and shopping along Rodeo Drive. The other Hollywood wives figured out the real reason why Hudson had married, and Phyllis was treated by many as the prop that she was. It's reported that at parties she would be asked where Rock was since he was not at her side, knowing full well he was flirting with handsome young men elsewhere at the party.

Hudson, according to Gates, became capable of dark moods and sudden rages. She said that he hit her twice and once tried to choke her, and she began seeing a psychologist out of desperation. Rock Hudson, his wife wrote, had ''virtually abandoned" her for five months when she was ill with infectious hepatitis in 1957 while he was working on a film in Italy. Defiant, he refused counseling to save their marriage. Then Phyllis received word from one of her closest "friends"  that Hudson had been unfaithful to her with a cute Italian actor during the filming of A Farewell to Arms in Italy. Of course nearly everyone in Hollywood had already heard about Rock's supposed five-month affair with the actor before his wife did. Even worse, according to Phyllis, she found out that "The Italian had followed Rock to California but now Rock Wouldn't see him."  Afraid that the man would blab his story since he was now jilted, it's thought that Hudson's publicity team encouraged the man to get on a plane back to Italy.

Embarrassed, lonely and untouched, Gates filed for divorce in April 1958, charging mental cruelty.  Hudson did not contest the divorce  It seems Rock Hudson finally gave Phyllis a really good fucking, but not in the way she originally had in mind on their honeymoon...Gates received a relatively small alimony considering he was a movie star ($250 a week for 10 years).  After the divorce, Rock moved out from the two-bedroom rambler he had lived in with Phyllis and into a mansion at 9402 Beverly Credt Drive.  Ms. Gates, who never remarried, died at age 80.