Actor Rock Hudson, the focus of extraordinary public attention since he disclosed last week that he was suffering from AIDS, was in "serious but stable" condition yesterday at UCLA Medical Center after flying in from Paris on a specially chartered jet Monday night.
"He's being evaluated and treated for complications of AIDS," according to a statement read early yesterday evening by UCLA Medical Center spokesperson Cathy Leichliter. ". . . He's in good spirits and pleased to be home. He returned to Los Angeles in order to be in a familiar environment and to be cared for by his own physicians. Also, he wished to recuperate and gain strength before any further consideration of experimental therapy."
Hudson's "condition is not expected to change quickly," according to Leichliter. Hudson is being attended at UCLA by Dr. Michael Gottlieb, a major AIDS researcher whose specialty is clinical immunology and allergies. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, which is usually fatal, attacks the immune system. Its most common victims are homosexuals, intravenous drug users and hemophiliacs.
It was announced last Thursday, at Hudson's request, that the actor had been diagnosed with AIDS a year ago. "It's been his desire," said Hudson's Los Angeles publicist, Dale Olson, "if he can do anything at all to help the rest of humanity by acknowledging that he has the disease, it will help the rest of the world."
Since the announcement, much media attention has been focused on AIDS and the epidemic increase in the number of its victims. Bill Misenheimer, director of the AIDS Project L.A., said yesterday, "We're getting an inordinate amount of calls -- two- or threefold." The publicity surrounding Hudson's illness has "resulted in many more people being concerned and wanting information."
Hudson left the American Hospital of Paris at his own request after a doctor treating him for AIDS "decided he was too weak to get the treatment," according to Yanou Collart, a friend of Hudson's and a well-known Paris publicist.
"It would have taken some time to get him in shape to do the treatment," said Collart who is still in Paris, "and at that point, Mr. Hudson asked him if he could fly back to California. I think when you are sick, you want to be at home more than in a foreign place."
Hudson went to Paris 11 days ago for treatment by a doctor, Dominique Dormont, from a French military hospital near Paris, according to Collart. But he collapsed at his Paris hotel, the Ritz, the day after his arrival.
Hudson originally met Dormont while attending a film festival in Deauville in September 1984. Hudson went there for the opening of "George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey," -- George Stevens Jr.'s film about his father, who directed Hudson in "Giant" -- and a showing of several of Hudson's films. The actor spent six weeks in France at the time receiving treatment from Dormont with the experimental drug HPA-23, which is being used to treat AIDS patients in France.
Hudson left the American Hospital of Paris Monday night from the rear of the building by ambulance. A helicopter took him from the Porte de Versailles to Charles de Gaulle Airport where a chartered Air France Boeing 747 jet flew him to Los Angeles.
Collart visited with Hudson on the plane before it took off.
"He was fantastic," she said. "He was liking the fact that he avoided all the press. You know, he was surrounded -- for a week there were about 150 radio and television people in front of the hospital. We arranged a way to get out of the hospital and no one saw us. And he loved it."
On the plane with Hudson were two doctors, a nurse and two medical aides who oversaw the installation of medical equipment on board. Collart said a jumbo jet was chartered because "it's the only plane that does not have to refuel between Paris and Los Angeles." She estimated the cost of chartering the plane at $250,000.
Hudson was carried by stretcher to the Air France jet. "You know when you are sick, it's always better to travel lying down," Collart said.
His plane arrived at Los Angeles International Airport at 2:49 yesterday morning, according to John Hicks, superintendent of airport operations. He was then transferred to a UCLA MEDSTAR helicopter, parked next to the jet, where he was met by Gottlieb.
Hicks said he exchanged greetings with Hudson. "He was not too communicative. He was quite pale, but certainly he was alert."
Collart spoke on the phone with Hudson at UCLA yesterday and described him as "sitting up in bed and laughing" about "the last rumor that Mr. Aaron Spelling paid for the plane. I have to call Mr. Spelling and see if he would like to write a check to Mr. Hudson. It might be good public relations." Spelling produces "Dynasty," the television series on which Hudson starred last season.
Hudson is assuming the cost of the Air France charter, according to Collart. "He paid it, but he liked the rumor," she said laughing.
"He said that he is planning to come back to visit Paris and go to his favorite restaurant," which Collart said is an Italian restaurant called Beato.
Collart said Hudson received 2,000 letters in Paris -- "I had to buy extra luggage for the mail" -- and was expecting visits from a number of Hollywood actors.
"We canceled all the people who were going to fly to Paris to see him," said Collart. "Robert Wagner, Elizabeth Taylor, Angie Dickinson, Jane Wyman, Sean Connery. As Mr. Hudson said, now that he is in Los Angeles he can have a party."
Collart said she did not expect Hudson to speak out more about his illness: "He's already said what he wanted to say. He wants to relax and enjoy his friends."