An unemployed musical archivist who says he was Rock Hudson's lover filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in Los Angeles yesterday claiming the late actor, doctors and two close associates of Hudson's conspired to hide the fact that the actor had AIDS.
By the time the 59-year-old matinee idol died Oct. 2 of complications brought about by the disease he was the subject of worldwide publicity. But his alleged lover, Marc Christian, 31, claims that for months before the July disclosure that Hudson had the disease, the actor hid the diagnosis from Christian while continuing to have sex with him.
The suit is believed to be the first by an alleged lover against the estate of a victim of acquired immune deficiency syndrome -- a disease for which there is no known cure.
Christian contends he learned only from a radio broadcast in July that Hudson had AIDS, a full year after Hudson knew the diagnosis. The actor, says Christian, insisted his extreme weight loss was the result either of anorexia or dieting and exercise.
His complex lawsuit, totaling $14 million in claimed damages for "bodily injury, mental suffering, fraud and deceit," involves the Hudson estate; Wallace Sheft, the executor of Hudson's trust; Mark Miller, the actor's former secretary; and two unnamed doctors.
Christian has declined all requests for interviews and no one involved in the suit was available for comment yesterday. Dale Olson, Hudson's former publicist, said, "I'm very much in the middle because everyone is calling me and I don't know anything. Sheft isn't returning my calls and neither is Mark Miller. I've not been involved since two days after Rock died. I only knew Christian ever so slightly and can barely recall him. I don't have any knowledge if he lived in the house. I was never engaged in personal things; I handled the press details."
Christian now lives a "death watch" according to his lawyer, Marvin Mitchelson. "He was like a dependent, who never asked to be a public figure, he just expected Hudson not to put one over on him. He didn't tell him and continually exposed him to the disease. It's unfortunate but he probably will contract it because of continuous exposure with Hudson." To date, the overwhelming number of U.S. AIDS victims have been homosexuals.
Mitchelson's landmark "palimony" suit -- Michelle Triola Marvin against actor Lee Marvin -- established the right of unmarried partners to sue for property rights. He also handled mistress Vicki Morgan's suit against the late Alfred Bloomingdale, and multibillion-dollar divorce suits such as Soraya Khashoggi against Saudi Arabian billionaire Adnan Khashoggi. This suit is the "most unglamorous case I've been involved in," Mitchelson said, but Christian "has to be represented. There has to be some law on this subject of AIDS disclosure and a victim's rights concerning this terrible dread disease."
He said Christian "had hoped to settle quietly," but talks with Hudson's associates were "unproductive."
According to the suit, Christian and Hudson met at a party in 1982 and Christian moved into Hudson's house in 1983. An archivist for the American Film Institute, Christian was working on a project to document hit records since 1930.
After the illness was disclosed, Christian continued to live in the home and "retained a relationship of friendship" until Hudson died. Christian is now looking for work.
Hudson's disclosure rallied Hollywood support for the fight against AIDS but also sparked controversy and fear that Hudson had endangered cast members on the TV series "Dynasty" by keeping his illness a secret.
Hudson's will left his entire estate -- an undisclosed amount -- to a trust fund established in 1974, and the identity of the beneficiaries will not become public record. Hudson mentioned no relatives in the will and his former business manager and close friend, Tom Clark -- who was at his bedside holding the actor's hand when he died -- was left nothing.