Actor Rock Hudson, hospitalized in Paris, has inoperable liver cancer, his Los Angeles publicist Dale Olson said yesterday.
Olson called Hudson's illness "severe" and confirmed that the 59-year-old actor, now in the American Hospital in Paris, had been in and out of a coma as of yesterday morning. Olson said he received the news in a phone call from Hudson's secretary, who is with him in Paris.
Regarding widely circulating reports that Hudson has AIDS, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, Olson said, "I cannot confirm or deny that. Nobody has said that to me. No doctor has ever said that to me. [Hudson's secretary] . . . said the doctor who examined him in Paris said he did not find AIDS but I don't think he was looking for it."
Olson could not confirm reports that Hudson was being treated at the Institute Pasteur in Paris, a leading facility for the treatment of AIDS, or that Hudson was being examined by leading AIDS specialists. "I suspect that that's so," Olson said. "He's being looked at by specialists from all over Paris."
Hudson had gone to Paris Saturday specifically to seek medical attention, according to Olson. "He likes Paris, so it's not unusual for him to pop over there," added Olson, who said Hudson called him Friday night before leaving.
"He said, 'I've just decided I'm not feeling well. I'm just going to get some checkups. I'll call you when I get over there. I'll be back soon,' " Olson said.
"I have to admit that he went to Paris not expecting to go into the hospital," Olson continued. "He collapsed at the Ritz Hotel Sunday night and was rushed to the hospital. He hasn't been feeling well. He's been losing weight. He hasn't been getting sleep. But he was very casual about it [going to Paris for medical help.]"
Hudson underwent quadruple heart-bypass surgery four years ago.
Recent publicity shots of Hudson showed a dramatic weight loss that left his 6-foot-4 frame gaunt. Last week he filmed a guest appearance on Doris Day's upcoming television show about pets.
Olson, contacted last evening in Los Angeles, said he had no updates on Hudson's condition. "I've been trying to call Paris for hours," Olson said. He added that Hudson was expected to undergo more tests today.
Hudson rose to sophisticated-leading-man status in the '50s and '60s, starring in dozens of films, notably a series of romantic comedies, including "Pillow Talk" and "Send Me No Flowers," which costarred Doris Day. He starred with Elizabeth Taylor in George Stevens' Academy Award-winning epic "Giant," which won Hudson an Oscar nomination.
He later starred opposite Susan Saint James in the popular television series "McMillan and Wife."
Last season he filmed eight episodes of "Dynasty."
Colleagues of Hudson's have responded to his illness with sympathy and support.
Doris Day released a short statement saying, "I've always loved Rock very much and I'm praying for him."
The cast of "Dynasty" released a statement saying, "We are all stunned by the terrible news about Rock Hudson's physical condition. When he appeared on 'Dynasty' he looked terrific, displayed great energy and, as always, was the consummate professional."
In the last few years, Hudson sought little work and accepted only what interested him, according to Olson. "He's not crazy about the kind of movies being made today," Olson said. "He thinks they're being made totally for a young audience . . . He gets a lot of scripts and he reads a few pages and says, 'No, that's not for me.' "
Hudson, said Olson, "is in the luxurious position of being able to do whatever he wants. What he likes to do is putter and read and work in his garden and play bridge with his friends."
Hudson, born in Winnetka, Ill., as Roy Scherer Jr., was married briefly to an ex-airline stewardess, Phyllis Gates, from 1955 to 1958. He lives in Beverly Hills.