Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


THE MAN WHO INVENTED ROCK HUDSON: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson. Robert Hofler. Carroll and Graf; 2005.

Henry Willson was the top Hollywood agent who represented many stars, including a plethora of “pretty boys,” and came up with names like Rock Hudson [his major client], Tab Hunter, Troy Donahue, and others who weren't quite as successful. When the studios collapsed and ethnic stars took over, Willson and his blond hunks were seen as passé and Willson, who spent his money on his clients instead of saving it, discovered who his real friends were. Although there is some attempt at balance, this emerges as an arch and mostly negative [if fascinating] look at Willson, although the point is made that Willson wasn't alone in hitting on attractive young actors – Hollywood has always had its share of male producers and agents who bed pretty aspiring actresses in exchange for services -- and the actors themselves could be pretty aggressive. Hofler seems to accept one Willson client's story -- that Willson told mob connections to “take care” of two gay men blackmailing Hudson while on the phone in front of this client – at face value. Even if we were to believe that Willson would have hit men “rub out” these two men, would he implicate himself in front of a witness? [It's possible that Willson was only giving a warning to this particular client in case he decided to do the same thing.]

Verdict: Despite its flaws, this is a good read and a highly entertaining look inside a certain aspect of Hollywood. ***.

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