Doris Day On Saying Goodbye to Rock Hudson: 'I Was In Tears'
To read all of movie icon Rock Hudson s shocking untold story, subscribe to PEOPLE now.
Doris Day and Rock Hudson made Hollywood magic in such classics as Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back. More than five decades later, Day, 91, remembers her tearful goodbye with the actor who once loved to make her laugh. “I still miss him,” she says.
They first met on the set of Pillow Talk in 1959. “I remember asking someone ‘Is his name really Rock? That’s odd, don’t you think?’ ” remembers Day. “I knew nothing about him!”
“He was so funny,” she says. “He always had a nickname for me but he liked Eunice best. He’d come into the makeup area and and holler ‘Eunice, are you here? I’ll be over in a minute with a donut.’ ”
Years later, after he was diagnosed with AIDS, Hudson kept his promise to appear on her variety show in July 1985. It was his gaunt appearance at the press conference announcing their reunion that alerted the world to his failing health – just before his AIDS diagnosis was made public. “He promised her he would be there so he went,” says his business manager Wallace Sheft.
“I hardly knew him,” recalls Day. “He was very sick. But I just brushed that off and I came out and put my arms around him and said ‘Am I glad to see you.'”
“He’d get very tired,” she recalls of his last visit. “I’d bring him his lunch and fix him a big platter but he couldn’t eat. I’d say ‘What if I get a fork and feed you’ but he said ‘Doris I can’t eat.'”
Their goodbye broke her heart. “They had a small plane to get him to the airport,” she says. “We kissed goodbye and he gave me a big hug and he held onto me. I was in tears. That was the last time I saw him – but he’s in heaven now.”
Looking back, Day, who lives a quiet life in Carmel, California and is devoted to animals and the Doris Day Animal Foundation says, “I think the reason people liked our movies is because they could tell how much we liked each other. It came across that way on screen. He was a good friend.”