Nancy Reagan refused to help Rock Hudson get AIDS treatment
Former First Lady Nancy Reagan ignored a request to help Rock Hudson secure a pioneering AIDS treatment just weeks before he died, it has been revealed.
The legendary Hollywood actor revealed publicly that he had AIDS in July 1985, and travelled to Paris to seek experimental treatment at the Percy Military Hospital – where he was turned away because he was not French.
It has now been revealed that he begged his former close friends Nancy and Ronald Reagan to help cut through the red tape and get access to the treatments.
A telegram to the White House from Mr Hudson’s publicist, Dale Olson, has been uncovered by Buzzfeed.
It reads: “Only one hospital in the world can offer necessary medical treatment to save life of Rock Hudson or at least alleviate his illness.
“Commanding General of Percy Hospital has turned down Rock Hudson as a patient because he is not French. Doctor Dormant in Paris believes a request from the White House or a high American official would change his mind.
“Can you help by having someone call the commanding General’s office at the Percy Hospital at the above number.”
The telegram was received by the White House, and eventually logged in the Reagan Presidential Library – but no call was made to help the actor secure treatment. Rock Hudson died in October the same year.
In a memo to another White House official after the telegram, Reagan advisor Mark Weinberg wrote: “I spoke with Mrs. Reagan about the attached telegram.
“She did not feel this was something the White House should get into and agreed to my suggestion that we refer the writer to the US Embassy, Paris.”
Mr Weinberg told Buzzfeed: “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.”
“The view was, ‘Well, we’re so sorry’ — and she was, they were both very sorry for Rock’s condition and felt for him and all the people — but it just wasn’t something that the White House felt that they could do something different for him than they would do for anybody else.”
An early member of ACT UP, Peter Staley, said: “Seems strange that the Reagans used that excuse, since they often did favours for their Hollywood friends during their White House years.
“I’m sure if it had been Bob Hope in that hospital with some rare, incurable cancer, Air Force One would have been dispatched to help save him.
“There’s no getting around the fact that they left Rock Hudson out to dry. As soon as he had that frightening homosexual disease, he became as unwanted and ignored as the rest of us.”