With his urbane charm, dashing good looks, and virile masculinity, Rock Hudson epitomized Hollywood's classic matinee idol image - used to great effect in many a romantic comedy in which he was often paired with the equally magnetic Doris Day. One of the most popular movie stars of his time, Hudson's screen career spanned five decades and was a shining example of Hollywood's classical "star system"-style career promotion - his early success coming as the result of careful cultivation and nurturing by major movie studios. While generally underappreciated for his skills as an actor, Hudson nevertheless showed unexpected glimmers of brilliance, as he did in George Stevens' 1956 epic, "Giant" for which he received an Academy Award nomination. Known for his easy-going demeanor off-screen, Hudson was well-liked by colleagues and seemed to enjoy a rich and happy life in the public eye. In truth, however, Hudson endured a deeply troubled private life, living a lie for the sake of his career - including going along with a studio-arranged marriage. Manufactured to be Hollywood's ultimate ladies man, Rock Hudson was, in reality, a lifelong homosexual. Tragically, he would become a cautionary tale as well. After contracting the HIV virus and dying of AIDS in 1985 - his private life now thrust public for the world to see - Hudson would become the first major Hollywood casualty of the misunderstood and widely feared disease. But he would not die in vain. His death not only opened people's eyes to the disease itself, it inspired his good friend and onetime co-star Elizabeth Taylor to begin her decades-long role as a prominent AIDS activist, raising millions in the fight against the deadly disease that had robbed her friend of his golden years.