Doris Day gets candid on her friendship with Rock Hudson in rare interview

Doris Day gave a rare interview about her beloved friend Rock Hudson decades after she left Hollywood behind in 1973. Closer Weekly recently reported the 96-year-old actress and singer participated in Mark Griffin’s new book, titled “All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson.” Hudson, a screen idol during the ‘50s and ‘60s who … Continue reading “Doris Day gets candid on her friendship with Rock Hudson in rare interview”

Doris Day gave a rare interview about her beloved friend Rock Hudson decades after she left Hollywood behind in 1973.

Closer Weekly recently reported the 96-year-old actress and singer participated in Mark Griffin’s new book, titled “All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson.”

Hudson, a screen idol during the ‘50s and ‘60s who was often paired with America’s Sweetheart in romantic comedies, died in 1985 at age 59 after suffering of AIDS for more than a year.

The New York Times reported Hudson was the first major public figure to openly acknowledge that he was suffering from the incurable disease. The newspaper added that while acquaintances often described Hudson as being gay, the actor never publicly commented or acknowledged the reports.

Closer Weekly revealed that Day, who fiercely preserves her private life away from cameras and rarely gives interviews, didn’t hesitate to sing the praises of her close friend.

“Between scenes, we’d walk and talk and laugh, and I guess our comedic timing grew out of our friendship and how naturally funny we were together,” Day told Griffin.

“I honestly don’t think I taught him anything he didn’t already know after all his years in the business,” she added.

Hudson and Day played leading roles in 1959’s “Pillow Talk,” 1961’s “Lover Come Back” and 1964’s “Send Me No Flowers.” Griffin told the magazine their chemistry both on and off the screen was undeniable.

“They just played off one another beautifully,” said Griffin. “What’s interesting now, years after these movies have been released, is if you say Rock Hudson, the next thing people inevitably say is Doris Day. They’re synonymous with each other.”

While Day and Hudson made the perfect on-screen couple, Griffin revealed in his book the star struggled as a closeted gay man who publicly played the role of a red-blooded, heterosexual male.

“Long before he landed in Hollywood, he understood that if he wanted to be accepted, the very essence of who he was would have to be edited out of the frame,” wrote Griffin, as reported by Closer Weekly. “From an early age, he learned that you could talk about pretty much anything, except what you truly felt and what you really wanted.”

This isn’t the first time that Day, who has settled into a quiet life in California, has given glimpses about her friendship with Hudson.

Back in 2015, Day admitted to People magazine that the star, who loved to make her laugh even when cameras stopped rolling, never left her mind.

“I still miss him,” said Day.

Day still vividly remembered the first time they met on the set of “Pillow Talk.”

“I remember asking someone ‘Is his name really Rock? That’s odd, don’t you think?’” she said. “I knew nothing about him! [But] he was so funny. He always had a nickname for me but he liked Eunice best. He’d come into the makeup area and holler, ‘Eunice, are you here? I’ll be over in a minute with a donut.'"

And despite being diagnosed with AIDS, Hudson kept his vow to appear on her variety show in 1985. Day was stunned by what she witnessed.

“I hardly knew him,” said Day. “He was very sick. But I just brushed that off and I came out and put my arms around him and said ‘Am I glad to see you.’”

Day shared his last visit broke her heart.

“He’d get very tired,” said Day. “I’d bring him his lunch and fix him a big platter but he couldn’t eat it. I’d say, ‘What if I get a fork and feed you?’ But he said ‘Doris I can’t eat.’

“They had a small plane to get him to the airport. We kissed goodbye and he gave me a big hug and he held onto me. I was in tears. That was the last time I saw him — but he’s in heaven now.”

Rock Hudson in 1985. — Getty

Day has since dedicated her life to helping animals in need through the Doris Day Animal Foundation. However, Day insisted she still cherishes the love she once shared with Hudson, an admiration that still lives on.

“I think the reason people liked our movies is that they could tell how much we liked each other,” said Day. “It came across that way on screen. He was a good friend.”

Back in March, Barbara Rush, who starred as evil Nora Clavicle in the hit series “Batman” in 1968, told Fox News Hudson was head over heels for Day long before the pair bonded as close friends on and off the screen.

The duo starred together in “Taza, Son of Cochise,” “Captain Lightfoot,” and “Magnificent Obsession” during the ‘50s.

“He loved Doris Day before he even met her,” said Rush. “He did, he absolutely did. He just loved her singing. We were on location [filming] and he would play some of her music. He just loved it. Doris had such a wonderful singing voice. I remember him playing her records on the jukebox. He played it a lot.”

Bettie Page’s ‘lost years’ revealed in ‘treasure trove’ of unseen letters and photos

Legendary pinup Bettie Page, who heated up the ‘50s with her racy good girl gone bad snaps and became a target of anti-pornography investigators, passed away on Dec. 11, 2008 — but now a new book is unveiling a new side to the Playboy Playmate.

Tori Rodriguez is the co-author of the recently released Bettie Page: The Lost Years,” which delves into the model's life after she retired in 1957, which includes an on-again, off-again struggle with mental illness. The book also features never-before-seen photos, as well as letters from 1949 to 2000, detailing Page’s life behind closed doors as she aged.

Rodriguez, who also manages the late star’s official social media sites and blog, told Fox News she was introduced to Page’s nephew Rob Brem, a musician living in Bakersfield, Calif., through CMG Worldwide, which manages the cover girl's image. Brem soon revealed he possessed hundreds of photos and 29 letters between his late mother Goldie Jane Page, the icon’s beloved sister, and Page. The star herself never had children.

Goldie (left) and her sister Bettie in 1951. (From "Bettie Page: The Lost Years," courtesy of Ron Brem’s archives.)

Goldie passed away in 2004 at age 78.

“Goldie went to great lengths to preserve these letters and photos," Rodriguez explained. “Goldie died before Bettie, so Ron had tons of belongings that she left behind. He just got around to going through some of that stuff a few years ago, and that’s when he turned up this treasure trove of letters and photos.”

Goldie, like her famous sister, was an aspiring model and actress. But unlike Page, Goldie was a burlesque performer before she settled into new roles of housewife and art teacher in 1956. It was actually at a nightclub during a strip teasing gig where Goldie met her soon-to-be husband. Goldie eventually hung up her pasties and focused on motherhood.

Goldie Page was a burlesque performer before she became a wife and mother. (From "Bettie Page: The Lost Years," courtesy of Ron Brem’s archives.)

“They were incredibly close,” said Rodriguez. “It’s almost like they were twins. They looked alike, they were close in age, had pretty much the same interests and learned how to pose together. They both wanted to be models.

(From "Bettie Page: The Lost Years," courtesy of Ron Brem’s archives.)

“Ron had talked about that there was a bit of a rivalry there in terms of modeling. He said Bettie would get a bit jealous when photographers would pay more attention to Goldie on shoots. And that Goldie was jealous of Bettie’s growing popularity in the modeling world. But overall, they were very supportive of each other.”

Page stuck with modeling — and it paid off. The New York Times reported that after posing in bondage for brother-sister photographers Irving and Paula Klaw, as well as in titillating swimwear for Bunny Yeager, her big break was when Playboy featured her wearing a Santa hat and not much else in January 1955. Page became the most famous pinup of the post-World War II era, a centerfold on a million locker doors and garage walls.

And then at the height of her fame, Page vanished for three decades. In her later years, Page famously never wanted to be photographed. And when she was the subject of a documentary that was released posthumously titled "Bettie Page Reveals All," only her Tennessee drawl is heard.

Rodriguez said that throughout Page’s life, she stayed in touch with Goldie. In Page’s letters to her sibling, she confessed to struggling with the idea of getting older.

Bettie Page (upper right) with her family in 1970. (From "Bettie Page: The Lost Years," courtesy of Ron Brem’s archives.)

“She did have a problem with the weight that she gained as she aged, and just aging in general,” explained Rodriguez. “… If you look at what happened to Bettie in particular as she aged… She was having more frequent psychotic breaks, she would develop this terrible arthritis throughout her life, she was having lots of other health issues and health scares. And so, you understand why someone would think, ‘My God, if this is aging, to hell with it.'

“… She would plainly state that ‘I’ve been so depressed I ate everything in sight.’ Things like that. So she’s clearly stating that she was an emotional eater. Another thing I wonder about is antipsychotic drugs are very well-known to have weight gain as a side-effect. And so, I’m really curious about whether and how much it affected her weight. I don’t know if that was common knowledge back then. She might not have had the awareness, that it could be affecting her weight.”

Bettie Page in New York City, circa 1951. — From "Bettie Page: The Lost Years," courtesy of Ron Brem’s archives.

Throughout Page’s disappearance, fans had previously speculated she was living in a mobile home, killed in a car accident, taken down by the mob or even joined a convent. In 1996, the Chicago Tribune reported the speculation had grown so intense that Penthouse magazine offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who could prove she was dead or alive.

In private, Page was suffering from a breakdown during a time when mental illness wasn’t as widely discussed or understood as it is today.

Bettie Page for Confidential Advertising. (Getty)

Time magazine reported that in January 1972, then-husband Harry Lear alleged she was running through a ministry retreat in Boca Raton waving a .22-caliber pistol and shouting about the "retributions of God.” Then in April of that year, Lear claimed Page, who was allegedly holding a knife, forced him and his two children to pray before a portrait of Jesus.

The magazine added Page was charged with breach of the peace and confined in Jackson Memorial for four months. Then in October 1972, she recommitted herself and spent another six months, part of it reportedly under suicide watch.

In 1972, Page attacked her landlord with a knife and was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Time shared Page was found not guilty by reasons of insanity. In 1980, she was sentenced to five years’ confinement at Patton State Hospital. Then in 1982, she was accused of attacking another landlady. She stayed at Patton State Hospital until 1992. While in confinement, Page said she had hoped to express her remorse.

Bettie Page mugshot. — Splash

“In her time, there was a strong stigma around mental health, particularly with severe mental illness like schizophrenia,” said Rodriguez. “… It was just not talked about. I even brought it up in the book that Bettie never says, ‘I was diagnosed with schizophrenia.’ She never mentions that world. She talks about a nervous strain and emotional turmoil, those sorts of things. … But she definitely does have this paranoid schizophrenia that she was said to be diagnosed with.”

The New York Times reported that for years, Page lived on Social Security benefits. And despite her mental health anguish, Page, who converted to Christianity in 1958, relied on her faith and immersed herself in Bible studies. The newspaper added that in her later years, she lived on the proceeds of her revival, which had reached a cult-like status. Rodriguez said that despite her initial shame of being recognized as a sex symbol, she later came to terms with it.

Bettie Page’s early modeling photo. (From "Bettie Page: The Lost Years," courtesy of Ron Brem’s archives.)

“She herself said in an interview that she got rid of her pinup costumes that she had made by hand,” said Rodriguez. “… But then, she came to some peace with it.”

And it was her legions of fans that helped Page not only accept her fame but appreciate it.

Bettie Page (left) in 1961. (From "Bettie Page: The Lost Years," courtesy of Ron Brem’s archives.)

“In a letter to Goldie, she talks about having seen herself on TV and she talks about her biography that was about to come out and things like that,” said Rodriguez. “The thing she really emphasizes is how much she appreciates her fans. She really enjoyed the attention of fans in her later years.”

Rodriguez hopes her book will help readers realize that despite the many ups and downs Page endured, both privately and publicly, she was a woman with dreams of a brighter future.

Bettie Page in 1955. (Getty)

“She struggled with a lot of the same issues other people are faced with,” said Rodriguez. “But she always maintained this stubborn optimism in the face of everything that life threw her way… Even through multiple hospitalizations and years of poverty and disappointment, she still got back up and hoped for more. She always kept planning a new path for herself.”

In late 2008 Page was hospitalized for three weeks with pneumonia before she suffered a heart attack and was transferred in a coma at Kindred Hospital in Los Angeles. She died there at age 85.

Al Sharpton sells his life story rights for $531G — to his own charity

The Rev. Al Sharpton has found an eager buyer for the rights to his life story — his own charity.

The National Action Network agreed to pay the activist preacher $531,000 for his “life story rights for a 10-year period,” according to the non-profit’s latest tax filing, which was obtained by The Post.

NAN can apparently turn around and sell those rights to Hollywood or other takers at a profit, but neither the reverend nor the charity would identify what producers are waiting for such Sharpton content.

The document does not indicate when Sharpton, who is president of NAN, gets the cash, which is above and beyond the $244,661 he already pulled down in compensation from the group in 2017.

Sharpton also wouldn’t say when the cash would come in.

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“What does that have to do with anything?” he said, speaking to The Post Saturday from South Africa, where he is hosting an MSNBC broadcast on the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth.

Sharpton claimed the idea for the deal came from two NAN board members, whom he would not name.

He said they wanted to create a source of revenue for the civil-rights organization after he steps down in about a year.

“This way they make a profit from the beginning and all of the revenues,” he said.

Sharpton said he had contracts for two movies, with a third contract in the works. One of these movies is already in production, he claimed. He would not provide details of any of the projects.

He said a play was being shopped around and there were other assets that would generate revenue for NAN, including a recording where James Brown is singing and he’s talking, and video footage of him with Michael Jackson.

“You’ve got real property here. You’re not talking about just me as an activist. These are non-related NAN things that are the saleable items,” he said.

Sharpton said that the assets were appraised and the movie deals alone could bring in at least triple to NAN over what it was paying him for the rights.

The organization says a private donor put up the money to make the purchase, but did not name the donor.

Nonprofit experts said the transaction could be troubling because NAN — whose mission includes criminal justice reform and police accountability — was doing business with its president.

If NAN paid too much it could run afoul of IRS rules regarding excess benefits given to a nonprofit’s key officials, which might put its tax-exempt status in jeopardy, Marcus Owens, a former IRS official and a partner with the Loeb & Loeb law firm in Washington, DC.

“When I see this kind of thing, it just makes me roll my eyes because there’s so much potential for funny business,” said Linda Sugin, a Fordham University Law School professor and associate dean.

“When I see this kind of thing, it just makes me roll my eyes because there’s so much potential for funny business.”

— Linda Sugin, Fordham University Law School professor and associate dean

The organization’s tax filing noted that the board’s unnamed “executive committee independently approved” the deal.

But Sugin questioned such how such independence was achieved.

“In this case, it’s really difficult because of his role in the organization and just because of his overall influence,” she said.

Daniel Borochoff, the head of Charity Watch, said the transaction would have been “a lot cleaner” if Sharpton sold the rights himself to a production company and then donated any profit in excess of $531,000 to NAN.

The Harlem-based National Action Network, which Sharpton founded in 1991, holds weekly “action rallies” at its House of Justice headquarters and an annual convention that has drawn President Obama as a speaker.

The event has been sponsored in the past by large corporations, including Walmart, PepsiCo and Ford.

The nonprofit took in $6.3 million in revenue last year, up from $5.8 million the year before, according to its tax filings. Its years of outstanding taxes were paid off in 2014.

Sharpton, who hosts the “PoliticsNations” show on MSNBC, managed to pay off a chunk of his tax debt to the state and feds in the last year.

He paid $172,112 to the state, but still owes $736,375 in personal income tax and taxes for three of his companies to Albany.

City records show a $1.3 million tax lien to the IRS was satisfied in February, but records show he still has $2.5 million in outstanding federal liens against him and one of his companies.

NAN has maintained that Sharpton is paying taxes on an installment plan. The liens don’t reflect partial payments.

Margaret Atwood penning sequel to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Margaret Atwood announced Wednesday she is writing a sequel to her dark, dystopian novel "The Handmaid's Tale" that serves as an inspiration for the popular Hulu show.

The acclaimed author made the announcement on Twitter, explaining that the upcoming book will be titled "The Testaments."

"Yes indeed to those who asked: I’m writing a sequel to The #HandmaidsTale. #TheTestaments is set 15 years after Offred’s final scene and is narrated by three female characters," Atwood tweeted.

She also revealed the book will be published in September 2019.

Atwood's book was turned into the Emmy Award-winning Hulu series of the same name. The show, which has aired two seasons, stars Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski and Alexis Bledel, among others. The streaming service announced in May it would be renewing the series for a third season.

Margaret Atwood celebrates "The Handmaid’s Tale" Best TV Drama win at the 2017 Emmy Awards with the show’s cast. (Reuters)

Bradley Whitford, who played Commander Lawrence in Season 2, told Fox News in August he was thrilled to be a part of the show.

“I am the biggest fan there could be. I think what those women are doing on that show is a generational achievement in acting. I can’t believe how good they are. So for me to get the opportunity to go on, I felt like I got a guest shot on ‘The Godfather’ or something,” he told us at the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour.

He added of his character, Commander Lawrence, “I was especially thrilled when I realized how complicated this guy is.”

Whitford recognizes that the show has drawn and intense reaction from viewers.

“It was thrilling for me…. There’s a lot of passion about the choices that [main character Elisabeth Moss] made, and it’s mostly just a testament to the power of the show and what it’s hitting in people and how it’s resonating with people.

“I find it hard to talk about how brilliant I think it is. I’m not kidding at all when I say I can’t believe I get to be on it. I mean, it’s unbelievable.”

You can find Sasha Savitsky on Twitter @SashaFB.