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Elizabeth Taylor Secretly Visited This Co-Star's Deathbed, Doctor Says

"I picked Elizabeth up in my old station wagon and we managed to get in through a loading dock."

For a star as big as Elizabeth Taylor, doing anything in public and going unnoticed had to have been nearly impossible. But, in 1985, the actor was able to visit a close friend near the end of his life with the help of his doctor. Taylor became friends with Rock Hudson when they starred together in the 1956 movie Giant along with James Dean, and they remained close until his death in 1985. A doctor who cared for Hudson around that time has opened up about Taylor's secret visit to his patient. Read on to learn more about Taylor and Hudson's friendship, as well as their final interaction.

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Taylor and Hudson were close friends.

Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor at a cast party for "Giant" circa 1955
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Hudson and Taylor met when they were making Giant and became fast friends. An article on Taylor's official website explains that they "found a confidant in one another while dealing with issues of postpartum depression, heartache, and the secret of Rock's sexuality which he harbored painfully for most of his life."

As reported in the article, Taylor told Hudson's biographer Mark Griffin of their time filming Giant, "Rock made me laugh. We spent most of the time laughing, chatting, and being silly. One night the hail was like golf balls, and we were running out, getting bonked on the head, making chocolate martinis."

She was able to sneak into the hospital unseen.

Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson at a handprint and footprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in 1956
Archive Photos/Getty Images

Hudson died in 1985, a year after being diagnosed with AIDS. The actor shared his diagnosis publicly and was one of the first celebrities to do so. Before he died, Taylor visited him with the help of Hudson's doctor, Michael Gottlieb. It was Gottlieb who identified AIDS as a new disease in 1981.

"I picked Elizabeth up in my old station wagon and we managed to get in through a loading dock at the back of the hospital to see him," Gottlieb recently told Closer Weekly (via the Daily Mail). Gottlieb added of Hudson, "Rock understood the implications of having AIDS in those early days. He was calm and hoped for the best."

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Sneaking in with Taylor was quite the experience.

Michael Gottlieb at The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation World AIDS Day Event in 2016
Jesse Grant/Getty Images for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation

Back in 2015, Gottlieb spoke to People about his visit with Taylor and went further into detail.

"We slipped in one of the back freight doors on the shipping dock to avoid being seen," he said. "There was no one else around. We were breaking and entering, going in the back door of the hospital without a pass."

He also commented on Taylor's ensemble, which made some commotion.

"Elizabeth was dressed to the nines, totally together. She was a little anxious about not having security," Gottlieb said. In the elevator he "heard a loud bang." He continued, "I jumped. 'What was that?' I asked. Elizabeth laughed and said 'It's just my jewels.' She had hit the wall of the elevator with a large diamond, the Krupp diamond."

Hudson was happy to see Taylor.

Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson leaving the Savoy Hotel in London in 1980
Tom Wargacki/WireImage via Getty Images

Gottlieb told People that Hudson was "glad" that he got to see his friend.

"She was a little nervous about seeing him for the first time because she knew how sick he was," he explained. "She asked me if it was okay to hug and kiss him. She was worried about his immune system. Not hers … Rock was very glad to have seen her."

Taylor became a HIV/AIDS activist.

Elizabeth Taylor testifying about AIDS in front of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee in 1992
Jeffrey Markowitz/Sygma via Getty Images

After they bonded over their connection to Hudson, Taylor and Gottlieb became friends and worked together to establish what is now a major HIV/AIDS charity.

"Elizabeth became a friend to me," Gottlieb told Closer Weekly. "Together, we started the American Foundation for AIDS research. Elizabeth was the most prominent person to come forward as an advocate. She had access to the White House and made a huge difference."

The actor went on to also found The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1991.

Biographer Griffin also spoke to Closer Weekly and said of Taylor, "Elizabeth had two gay assistants who died of AIDS early on in the crisis. Rock's illness further cemented her determination to raise funds for research and treatment."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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