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The Real Rock Hudson

Getty Images / Silver Screen Collection

The Real Rock Hudson

In the last months of his life, and the decades since, Rock Hudson's career and talent became eclipsed by the sensational nature of his death. As the first major celebrity to die from AIDS, Hudson created endless controversy and gossip fodder with the announcement of his illness. There was a period when it seemed all the entertainment media could talk about was Hudson's diagnosis … and his sexuality. Somewhere along the way, we forgot about his career.

Born Nov. 17, 1925, Hudson would have turned 87 today, and we're taking the day to remember a fine acting career that lasted more than 35 years. From his earliest movies to his final appearances on Dynasty, filmed while he was ill, Hudson always charmed his public.

Hudson broke into pictures in 1948, but his first major part came in 1954 when he starred opposite Jane Wyman in Magnificent Obsession.

Two years later, Hudson's role in Giant, alongside Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean, truly sealed his fame. He was nominated for the best actor Oscar for his performance.

Hudson became a favorite romantic lead, starring in such comedies as Pillow Talk with Doris Day.

Though Hudson's career peaked in the 1960s, he still had good parts in store – like his final role on 14 episodes of Dynasty.

It's these performances we choose to remember about Rock Hudson – these and dozens more. While we appreciate his openness about his illness and his willingness to help raise awareness of what was then a much misunderstood disease, long before he was the celebrity face of AIDS, he was an actor. And he was one of our favorites.

Written by Linnea Crowther. Find her on Google+.