Lee Garlington, who dated Rock Hudson in the 60s, is now speaking out about their hidden Hollywood romance.

Rock Hudson’s Former Flame Speaks Out

Garlington, a retired stockbroker at 77, first encountered Hudson in 1962 while working as an extra on one of the leading man’s movies. It wasn’t until a year later, after Garlington had split with a boyfriend, that the two met in earnest and struck up a relationship.

He was a sweetheart. I adored him,” Garlington told People magazine of the imposing actor who starred in such films as Giant, A Farewell to Arms and Pillow Talk.

“I was scared to death,” Garlington said of their first meeting at Hudson’s Beverly Hills mansion. “Of course, he was 6-foot-4, a monster. He offered me a beer but nothing happened. Literally. I was too scared. He said, ‘Well, let’s get together’ and we did.”

“I’d come over after work, spend the night and leave the next morning,” Garlington added. “I’d sneak out at 6 a.m. in my Chevy Nova and coast down the street without turning on the engine so the neighbors wouldn’t hear. We thought we were being so clever.”

Garlington, speaking to being closeted in Hollywood, called coming out “career suicide” at that point, though he admitted that there were those in the industry who likely new of their relationship. As for how the couple negotiated the secrecy of their relationship, Garlington revealed it was an unspoken understanding.

“Rock had no pretense,” Garlington fondly remembers the silver screen star. “He was always casual. He liked to wear chinos and moccasins around the house and hang around and watch television. We’d go on road trips and sometimes he wouldn’t tell the studio where he was going.”

“Rock was always himself,” he went on. “He would plant a kiss on a leading lady and I would say ‘Geez, he does that to me the same way.’ That was always a giggle on my part.”

Garlington and Hudson ultimately split in 1965, with both men going on to have other relationships. However, after Hudson died of AIDS in 1985, a biography was released that claimed Hudson had always maintained that it was Garlington who was his “true love.”

“I broke down and cried,” Garlington said of his reaction upon learning of Hudson’s feelings. “I just lost it. He said his mother and I were the only people he ever loved. I had no idea I meant that much to him.”