Rock Hudson: A Star Is Named

What’s in a name? For the former Roy Fitzgerald, better known as Rock Hudson, the start of a storied career.

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Originally published September 27, 1952

Raoul Walsh, one of the most experienced directors on the lot, glared at Rock Hudson past his black-patched eye. He alternately stared at him and quizzed him
for a while. “All right,” he said finally. “We’ll give you a bit and see what you can do.”

“We’ll sign the contract as soon as I can change his name,”
[talent scout Harry] Willson said cheerily. “Thanks, Raoul.”

“What did you say about my name?” feebly inquired Hudson — who was
then still a chump named Roy Fitzgerald — as they went out. ä

“No good,” said Willson sternly. “There are a couple of very good actors with that name already in the business. And it’s too big for star billing. They always have to spell it F-Z-G-L-D on the marquee.”

Hudson, who had never liked his name anyway, acquiesced. The next morning Willson greeted him beamingly as he entered the office. “Just saw a fine auto ad,” he reported. “I’ve got your name. Hudson! Like it?”

Hollywood actors Rock Hudson and Doris Day in "Pillow Talk"
Rock Hudson with frequent co-star Doris Day in Pillow Talk. (

Hudson did.

“Your first name is going to be Dirk! Dirk! Isn’t that great?”

“No,” said the newly christened Hudson.

“Okay,” said Willson, “how about Lance? Lance Hudson! I can see it in lights!”

“No,” said Hudson.

“This is temperament?” asked Willson, extending a list. “I’ve got seven more. You pick one.”

“Why don’t you call me Spear Mint?” said Hudson bitterly. He took the list and studied it. “What’s that?” he inquired, indicating one.

“Roc!” cried Willson, slapping him on the back. “You couldn’t have made a better choice. It’s a mythical bird.”

So Roy Fitzgerald became Roc Hudson. Later it was changed to Rock at his own request. It seemed more masculine and indubitably tougher.

—“How to Create a Movie Star” by Richard G. Hubler, September 27, 1952


This article is featured in the September/October 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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