Doris & Rock: Hollywood's Golden Couple
Published: October 10, 1998

It was back in 1959 when Hollywood’s hunkiest leading man of over 40 pictures, Rock Hudson was paired with the wholesome girl next door, Doris Day for the first of their unforgettable trilogy of movies for Universal Pictures as some would say  a match made in on-screen heaven.

Pillow Talk, their first film was to nurture an immediate bond between the two who had barely met before. However, it was a well publicised fact at the time that Rock had been a massive fan of Doris [or Eunice as he would call her] since her big-band days when he was serving in the Navy.

It was evening, and we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge...its lights went on, and the voice of Doris Day began singing 'Sentimental Journey' over the loud-speakers. Well, that was the saddest bunch of sailors you ever saw. She had the whole ship in tears, including me. Fifteen years later, Doris and I worked together for the first time in Pillow Talk and by way of contrast, it was laughter all the way..."  - Rock Hudson

Pillow Talk follows two strangers who share the same phone [party] line. Confrontations follow with the two very opposite personalities falling out. Although, as soon as Hudson discovers exactly who he is fueding with and more to the point how beautiful she is - things quickly change!

"Before we got under way, I had some apprehensions. I had never played comedy before, and here I was, thrown together with one of Hollywoodís most accomplished comediennes...but the best acting lesson came from Doris - her sense of timing, her instincts - I just kept my eyes open and copied her. I donít really know what makes a movie team....Iíd say, first of all, the two people have to truly like each other, as Doris and I did, for that shines through..." - Rock Hudson

The film’s upbeat feel, something that Doris adored, was an International box-office triumph something that was acknowledged by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who nominated Doris for Best Actress. The movie itself went on to receive Oscars for Best Story and Best Screenplay. This critical and commercial revival came at a time when Doris's career had begun to stall with her last two pictures only making a minor impressions on movie goers. However, the winning formula of Pillow Talk catapulted her back to being a #1 box office attraction - a multi-million dollar trend which remarkably she managed to sustain for a further 5 years.

This girl has never had an acting lesson in her life but she draws on a wellspring of emotion and experience that makes her one of the finest instinctive actresses in the world." - Michael Gordon (Director of Pillow Talk)

Originally titled The Way The Wind Blows producer Ross Hunter took the decision to rename the picture after Doris's new song Pillow Talk which he believed was a hit in the making. The move proved savvy as all the soundtrack songs proved to be as popular as the picture.

The couple were re-united again in the smash 1961 movie Lover Come Back featuring the catchy title tune by Frank de Vol which beautifully complimented the movie's playful Oscar nominated script and screenplay. Doris again played the independent career woman whilst Rock caused mischief as another cad. The story revolved around two characters who worked for rival Madison Avenue advertising companies. A battle eventually began over a non-existent product and a whole lot of laughs followed.

Send Me No Flowers, their final movie in 1964, may have featured a title song penned by pop maestros Burt Bacharach and Hal David but it received a luke-warm response at a time when a sexual revolution was beckoning leaving the slap-stick "sexless" comedies very much out in the cold. In it, Rock plays a hypochondriac who mistakenly thought he was on his death bed and so began the quest to find his wife the perfect replacement husband.

Although after these three pictures they were never destined to re-unite again on the big screen they did collaborate for television. In 1971, Doris welcomed Rock as a guest on her musical extravaganza for CBS aka the Doris Mary Anne Kappelhoff Special.

It was then years later after bowing out from mainstream entertainment that she agreed in 1985 to return to television in a new series for the Christian Broadcast Network, Doris Day's Best Friends. Doris grasped this opportunity to call on many of her old friends for support including dear Rock who was to be featured on the debut show and press conference launch. 

A long awaited reunion of the golden couple took place but it shockingly revealed something which Doris was not prepared for as Rock arrived looking physically ill and a mere shadow of his former self.

Rock, whose real life had been masqueraded by his strong heterosexual roles on film was in real life a gay man who was now dying from what was then a unfathomable new virus called AIDS. 

...She asked me if I would speak to him and move him to a guest cottage or property. She was gonna make chicken soup for the next 5 years if that’s what it took she’d do anything to nurse him back to health...." - Terry Melcher (Doris's Son)

Rock's last public appearance was to be with his pal taping the show which saw them fondly reminiscing of the good old days. "I miss those laughs we used to have" Doris exclaimed. "Oh me too" Rock replied.

Immediately after the taping Rock headed for treatment, boarding a plane for Paris in which he collapsed. Two months later he died at the age of 60. The episode with Rock was televised after his death accompanied with a heartfelt tribute from Doris:

I had to have Rock Hudson as my first guest so I called him and he said "Iíll be can count on me" & that was the truth! ...He didnít talk about his illness any time......I can only tell you my friends it was a heartbreaking time for me and without my faith I would be a lot sadder than I am today. I know that life is eternal and that something good is gonna come from this experience...Anyway letís think of him with laughter Ďcause he was so funny!"