Buzzfeed: Nancy Reagan Turned Down Rock Hudson’s Dying Request
[su_right_ad]Nine weeks before he died of AIDS, Rock Hudson was in Paris, desperately trying to get into the only hospital that was equipped to help him. His only option was to get the White House to intervene. He kne the Reagans from their Hollywood days.
Hudson’s longtime assistant, Mark Miller, flew to Paris immediately. There, he met with the French publicist, Yanou Collart. Over the following days, the pair, along with Hudson’s American publicist, Dale Olson, tried everything in a desperate attempt to get the dying actor moved to the military hospital for treatment.
These 10 days changed the course of history, as the world learned that Hudson was gay — and why he was dying…
One key part of this story, though, has never been told until now — not discussed at the time and lost in piles of paperwork from the Reagan administration. As Hudson lay deathly ill in the hospital, his publicist, Olson, sent a desperate telegram to the Reagan White House pleading for help with the transfer.
[su_r_sky_ad]In a desperate telegram sent at 12:22 p.m. ET on July 24, 1985, Olson made his case directly to the White House in a message addressed to Mark Weinberg — a special assistant to the president and deputy press secretary in the White House…
in a memorandum to Bill Martin, a special assistant to Reagan with the National Security Council, Weinberg then summarized the situation and his call with the first lady.
“I spoke with Mrs. Reagan about the attached telegram. She did not feel this was something the White House should get into and agreed to my suggestion that we refer the writer to the U.S. Embassy, Paris,” he wrote at the time.
“That refers to special treatment for a friend or celebrity. And that’s all it refers to. It had nothing to do with AIDS or AIDS policy or — that’s a whole different issue. We weren’t talking about that,” Weinberg told BuzzFeed News. “I know, I know that conversation,” he added, referencing long-standing criticism of the Reagan administration’s response to AIDS.
So, the excuse was that the Reagans didn’t do special favors for friends. But one favor was a call from President Reagan to Rock Hudson, and Nancy Reagan wanted the press to know about that call. But there was no effort to do something that could have saved his life.
Told of the communications and Weinberg’s explanation, Peter Staley — an early member of ACT UP and founder of the Treatment Action Group who was prominently featured in the Oscar-nominated AIDS documentary How to Survive a Plague — was incredulous.
“Seems strange that the Reagans used that excuse, since they often did favors for their Hollywood friends during their White House years,” Staley told BuzzFeed News, pointing out a time when President Reagan personally intervened to assist a fundraising effort led by Bob Hope, as detailed in a biography of the entertainer. “I’m sure if it had been Bob Hope in that hospital with some rare, incurable cancer, Air Force One would have been dispatched to help save him. There’s no getting around the fact that they left Rock Hudson out to dry. As soon as he had that frightening homosexual disease, he became as unwanted and ignored as the rest of us.”