Maybe it’s not appropriate to say this now. Maybe it’s bad timing, since Nancy Reagan has just passed. But hey, sometimes timing is everything –especially when you’re dying. Yes, as the headline says, First Lady Nancy Reagan turned down Rock Hudson’s plea for help nine weeks before he died. Hudson was desperately trying to get treatment for AIDS in France in 1985. After a simple plea came in for White House help to get Hudson transferred to another hospital.
You can read the full story here on BuzzFeed. Hudson was critically ill at the time. From the story;
Three days after Hudson’s collapse, he still lacked permission to go to the French hospital or to have Dormant see him in the American Hospital. His team’s initial attempts on the ground in Paris were not working.
In a desperate telegram sent at 12:22 p.m. ET on July 24, 1985, Olson made his case directly to the White House in a message addressed to Mark Weinberg — a special assistant to the president and deputy press secretary in the White House.
“Doctor Dominique Dormant specialist treating Rock Hudson in Paris, reports only one hospital in the world can offer necessary medical treatment to save life of Rock Hudson or at least alleviate his illness. This hospital is Ministere du la Defence Centre d’Researches du Service de Sante des Armees Percy Hospital in the city of Clamart,” the telegram read, with Olson going on to give the phone number to the hospital.
“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 stated.
“Please advise what can be done.”
The White House logged its receipt of the telegram at 2:07 p.m. on July 24, 1985, a copy of the telegram in the archives of the Reagan administration stored at the Reagan Library shows.
After Weinberg received the telegram, he spoke with the first lady.
“I knew the Reagans knew Rock Hudson, obviously from their years in Hollywood, and for that reason I decided to call her,” Weinberg told BuzzFeed News in a recent interview about the 1985 request.
Would the White House intervene on Hudson’s behalf? That was what the publicist was asking for — help getting the actor, lying in the hospital in a dire condition, transferred from hospital to hospital.
Weinberg recommended to Nancy Reagan that the White House refer the matter to the U.S. Embassy in France, because, as he told BuzzFeed News, “This is probably not the [last] time we’re going to get a request like this and we want to be fair and not do anything that would appear to favor personal friends.”
“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,” Weinberg said.
For me, this is her legacy –one than she can never live down. Say hi to Rock, Nancy.