For more than three decades, Rock Hudson maintained movie star status while acting in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. He married Phyllis Gates in 1955, one year after earning praise from critics and fans for his charming role in Magnificent Obsession. Keep scrolling to learn more about their marriage and divorce. 

Who Was Rock Hudson’s Ex-Wife, Phyllis Gates? 

Gates was born on December 7, 1925, in Dawson, Minnesota. She was the secretary of Hudson’s agent, Henry Wilson. Wilson also represented a number of other young actors during Hollywood’s Golden Age, including Rory Calhoun and Tab Hunter.

Hudson and Gates met for the first time in 1954 in a gathering arranged by Wilson at his office. The pair wed one year later after suspicions arose about Hudson’s personal life and sexual orientation. 

“Henry Wilson knew that there was only one way to silence all of the rumors about Hudson’s homosexuality,” Mark Griffin wrote in his 2018 book, All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson. “It was time for Rock to get married. And fast.”

Rock Hudson Wife Phyllis Gates: Job, Marriage, Death

Gates reflected on the early days of their marriage in her 1987 book, My Husband, Rock Hudson. She particularly recalled the toast her husband made as they headed off to their honeymoon. 

“We must always stick together and not let anyone try to pull us apart,” he said at the time. “Hollywood is full of a lot of vicious people who spread rumors. You must never believe any of them.”

When Did Rock Hudson Divorce Phyllis Gates?

In 1958, three years after walking down the aisle, Hudson and Gates ended their marriage. 

“Initially, they really got on like a house on fire, but I think the arranged marriage situation really did not go well for either of them,” Stephen Kijak, director of the June 2023 HBO documentary Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed, said. 

The Dynasty alum died on October 2, 1985, from complications of AIDS at age 59. Just months before Hudson’s death, he revealed his diagnosis to the public in a press release. He also left $250,000 to help set up the American Foundation for AIDS Research, which his good friend Elizabeth Taylor helped launch. 

What Happened to Phyllis Gates?

After her split from Hudson, Gates pursued a career as an interior designer in Los Angeles and never remarried, per The Guardian. She died at age 80 on January 4, 2006, from lung cancer.