Though it was kept tight under wraps in the '60s, Lee Garlington is now speaking out about his relationship with actor Rock Hudson, telling Peopleabout how the two kept their coupling a secret.
When he met Hudson in 1962, Garlington was a young film extra who couldn't resist the draw of "the biggest movie star in the world." Garlington told People that "the rumors were that he was gay. So I thought, 'Let me get an eye on him.' I stood outside his cottage on the Universal lot, pretending to read Variety, which was probably upside-down at the time. He walked out and down the street. He looked back once. That was it."
A year later, Garlington received a call from one of Hudson's friends, asking if he would like to meet with the actor. Garlington says he was "scared to death" at the time, though Hudson was surprisingly relaxed.
"He offered me a beer, but nothing happened. Literally. I was too scared. He said, 'Well, let's get together,' and we did."
Garlington went on to tell the magazine about how he would spend the night with Hudson and sneak out the next morning, coasting his car down the street so neighbors wouldn't hear, and that the two went to movie premieres together, though each with a female date.
"Nobody in their right mind came out," Garlington said. "It was career suicide. We all pretended to be straight."
Ultimately, Hudson never asked Garlington to keep their relationship a secret. "He assumed I would and I did," Garlington said. "He wasn't paranoid."
Garlington also explained that one of his favorite memories of Hudson was when the actor taught him how to shave properly. "He showed me how to take the razor and go down your face at an angle so it cuts better."
The two broke up in 1965 and had lost contact by the time Hudson revealed that he had AIDS in 1985.
"I was shocked," Garlington said of the news. "AIDS killed everybody in those days. I called up the people taking care of him, but they said he was so sick that he wouldn't know who I was and it was best to remember him how he had been before."
Garlington added that he read in Hudson's biography, published after Hudson's death, that the actor called him his "true love." "I broke down and cried," Garlington remembered. "He said his mother and I were the only people he ever loved. I had no idea I meant that much to him."