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Nancy Reagan Refused to Help Rock Hudson Days Before He Died of AIDS Complications

Nancy Reagan Refused to Help Rock Hudson Days Before He Died of AIDS Complications


The first lady turned down her friend's plea for help before he died.

It’s well-known that American actor Rock Hudson was seeking treatment in France when he collapsed in his hotel room, sparking a series of events that led to the revelation the actor was gay and suffering from AIDS.

But recent documents from the Reagan archives reveal that during that crucial summer in France Nancy Reagan denied a request from Rock Hudson’s assistance for help in transferring Hudson from the American Hospital to a French military hospital. Hudson had been receiving treatment from a doctor who worked from the military hospital but was denied access to Hudson at the American Hospital.

Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed News has documented the whole event in lengthy detail and it’s a fascinating look at just how far the White House went to separate itself from AIDS.

When asked why the White House denied Hudson’s request for intervention, former White House staffer Mark Weinberg (who received the telegrammed request) told Buzzfeed News he recommended to Nancy Reagan that they refer the matter to the American Embassy in Paris on the grounds that the Reagan’s may get more such requests for intervention and they shouldn’t play favorites.

“The Reagans were very conscious of not making exceptions for people just because they were friends of theirs or celebrities or things of that kind. That wasn’t — they weren’t about that. They were about treating everybody the same,” he told Buzzfeed News.

Nancy agreed with his recommendation. Ronald Reagan did make a phone call to Hudson in order to wish him well, but the White House did not intervene.

The excuse though that they didn’t wish to play favorites doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. As Buzzfeed documents, the Reagans intervened on the behalf of their friends in the past, including helping out comedian Bob Hope with a fundraiser. 

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