Marc Christian, 56

Marc Christian, 56; sued Rock Hudson estate over AIDS risk

By Los Angeles Times
Sunday, December 6, 2009

Marc Christian, who won a multimillion-dollar settlement in 1991 from the estate of actor Rock Hudson, his former lover, after convincing a jury that Hudson had knowingly exposed him to AIDS, died June 2 at a hospital in Burbank, Calif., of pulmonary problems. He was 56.

Mr. Christian's sister, Susan Dahl, confirmed the details Friday. She said she had not announced his death earlier because of her brother's wish for privacy.

Mr. Christian made headlines in 1985 when he sued Hudson's estate for $10 million. He said he had suffered severe emotional distress after hearing on a news broadcast that the former matinee idol and television star had AIDS, which was claiming the lives of many gay men.

Hudson's infection was diagnosed in 1984, but he did not publicly acknowledge his illness until July 1985; he died three months later at age 59.

Mr. Christian, who tested negative for AIDS several times, said Hudson put him at risk of contracting the disease by concealing his illness and continuing to have sexual relations with him.

In 1989, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury said Hudson had displayed "outrageous conduct" and awarded Christian $21.75 million in damages, later reduced to $5.5 million. After the California Supreme Court decided not to hear the case, a settlement was reached for an amount Mr. Christian later said was less than $6 million.

"It was obviously a groundbreaking case," said Tammy Bruce, a former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women and an openly gay talk show host. "It was the first public acknowledgment that gay relationships are complicated, important, and that responsibility is attached to them."

Mr. Christian later often found himself defending Hudson's reputation against those who viewed the late actor's conduct as reprehensible. "You can't dismiss a man's whole life with a single act," he told People magazine.


© 2009 The Washington Post Company