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Picking up boys off the street: The secret Rock Hudson recording

Phyllis Gates and Rock Hudson divorced in 1958, shortly after Gates had her husband recorded by a private eye confessing his homosexuality.

Fred Otash was a former LAPD officer turned notorious private eye who spied on everyone from John F Kennedy to Marilyn Monroe. Now The Hollywood Reporter has obtained Otash's recording of Rock Hudson's wife, Phyllis Gates, confronting the old Hollywood movie star about his homosexuality.

The tape is from January 1958, a few months before Gates, the secretary of Hudson's agent Henry Wilson, filed for divorce, citing "mental cruelty."

In a perfect Hollywood ending for a very Hollywood life, when Gates died from lung cancer in 2006, it was alleged by some who knew her that she was a lesbian who only married Hudson for money.

"You told me you saw thousands of butterflies and also snakes," Gates said in the recording, confronting Hudson about a Rorschach test he had taken. "[A therapist] told me in my analysis that butterflies mean femininity and snakes represent the male penis. I'm not condemning you, but it seems that as long as you recognize your problem, you would want to do something about it."

She also complained to her husband about "your great speed with me, sexually. Are you that fast with boys?" 

"Well, it's a physical conjunction," answered Hudson. "Boys don't fit. So, this is why it lasts longer." 

"Everyone knows that you were picking up boys off the street shortly after we were married and have continued to do so, thinking that being married would cover up for you," Gates said.

"I have never picked up any boys," Hudson maintained, "other than to give them a ride."