Saturday, October 13, 2012

October 13

George Nader: Hollywood Confidential

After appearing in small roles in forgettable films in the 1950s, a pair of strapping, handsome young gay actors were hungry for leading roles in higher quality films, and they were chasing the same dream. They were friends, but the competition did not always end up amicably. One of them, Rock Hudson, got lucky with Magnificent Obsession (1954), which turned him into a star and a hot commodity. The other, George Nader (1921-2002), was not so lucky. These two gay men with stunning physiques and charisma to spare were about to be involved in a Hollywood studio intrigue that left only one man standing.

According to insider reports at the time, Rock Hudson was a bit too indiscreet with a man he picked up, and their dalliance was photographed. Universal Studios bosses received a phone call from Confidential magazine saying they were about to expose Hudson’s homosexuality on their front page. The studio panicked at the thought of losing its hottest new star, so they cut a deal with the magazine. They made a decision that made Rock Hudson a Hollywood legend while simultaneously dashing the career of Nader to hopeless obscurity. The magazine agreed to ruin Nader's career by outing him as a homosexual in exchange for accepting a large cash payment to keep Rock Hudson's gay activities out of print forever. (BTW: I have not been able to confirm that a magazine outing of Nader ever took place) Another version of this story relates that Confidential was about to expose a relationship between Nader and Hudson himself, but both men later said they never had a sexual relationship. Nader and Mark Miller (Nader’s life partner) were living together monogamously at the time. In fact, Nader and Miller became Hudson’s de facto family and were especially supportive in the months leading up to Hudson’s death from AIDS in 1985. Photo below: Rock Hudson (left) wth fellow beefcake actor George Nader.

Nader’s Hollywood career sank, but he was not down for the count. Astonishingly, he became the second biggest film star in Germany, playing a James Bond type character by the name of Jerry Cotton in 8 films released in a five year span from 1965 to 1969. He continued working in B movies until 1974, but his career was thwarted a second time. An  accident resulting in a detached retina made it difficult and uncomfortable to work in front of the bright lights used on movie sets, so he switched to an entirely different career as an author. He wrote a popular science fiction novel titled Chrome (1978), in which two gay men were the principal characters.

Even more astonishingly, Nader and Hudson remained good friends. Nader began dating Mark Miller while the two were fellow actors at the Pasadena Playhouse, and Miller went on to work as Hudson’s private secretary. Nader and Miller became lovers and remained partners for 55 years, and Miller, Hudson and Nader became so close that Nader was included in Rock Hudson’s will, receiving the interest from his estate.

But we need to back up a moment. Miller had intended to study opera in NYC but abandoned his plans to stay in California to help Nader launch his career. Miller took odd jobs to provide income while Nader established himself as an actor. By 1952 Nader was successful enough that Miller became his business manager.

In 1953 Nader starred in a 3-D film called Robot Monster (at right), which grossed more than a million dollars on a $16,000 production budget. Nader played Roy, the often shirtless hero who saves the world from the clutches of a robot in a gorilla suit. Shot in just 4 days, it went on to become a camp cult classic. It also has the dubious distinction of being named one of the worst movies of all time.

In 1954 Nader won a Golden Globe award as Most Promising Male Newcomer of the year, but the Confidential gossip magazine incident in the early 1960s brought a premature close to his Hollywood career.

Universal Studios tried to protect Nader  by arranging dates with actresses such as Mitzi Gaynor, Martha Hyer and Piper Laurie, while suggesting he get married briefly to one of the studio secretaries to quell the gay rumors (neither Miller nor Nader publicly acknowledged their homosexuality until the mid-1980s). Nader couldn’t bring himself to participate in such a sham, and he left the studio in 1958 to work freelance. After some mediocre work in television, he and Miller moved to Germany in 1963, where Nader made eight successful films as a James Bond clone. By 1972, Nader decided to move back to Hollywood, and Miller joined him.

In 1978 Nader wrote his first novel, a homoerotic science-fiction book titled Chrome, which went into six printings. Nader finally came out of the closet in 1986, a year after Rock Hudson’s death from AIDS. Nader and Miller collaborated on a second novel, The Perils of Paul, which Nader didn't want published until after his death. Centering on the gay community in Hollywood with names changed to protect the guilty(!), it was published privately in 1999 (good luck acquiring a copy). In retirement, Nader and Miller lived in Palm Springs, California. Nader contracted a bacterial infection and died on February 4, 2002, at age 80.

 With Anne Baxter in Carnival Story (1954)

As Jerry Cotton, a James Bond clone in German language films.

With actress Julie Adams in Four Girls in Town (1956)

An expanded version of this post, with more photos, can be found at my Gay Influence blog. There are no NSFW pics there, so you may share it with friends for whom photos of naked men with tan lines would not be suitable.
Click on the link:

Pure, 100% Hollywood beefcake:

No comments:

Post a Comment