It all started as an oh-so-clever, Mary! same-sex wedding joke that quickly got out of hand, soon becoming an urban legend.
This year there’s a happy ending for one of the “grooms” caught as the saying goes between a rock and a hard place, way back when in ’71.
The rock was big-name actor Rock Hudson. The hard place was actually not a hard place but a hard pile, as in Gomer. Gomer Pyle. Get it? (Rock Pyle.) Most straights, dense as church door knobs, didn’t get it, so that’s how the star-studded gossip got going. Going and growing.
Apparently some dizzy queens took it into their concocting craniums that sending out engraved invitations on gay neighbor Nabors announcing his wedding nuptials to Rock would be lots of fun. So, invites were printed and sent to a select few. They weren’t maliciously sent, just thoughtlessly mailed without consideration for the consequences.
According to Hudson, who almost brought a lawsuit against the perpetrators, “There appears to be a couple of elderly, or middle-aged homosexuals who live in Huntington Beach, which is just down the coast from L.A., who every year give a party, a big party, 500 people or so,” he commented defensively to the media.”They invited everyone they know.
“It’s an engraved invitation, and to make it more amusing they will say things like: You’re cordially invited to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in Huntington Beach. The Hudson and Nabors item soon went all over the country.”
Gossipmongers joined in, including a Windy City disk jockey who hinted the queenly couple combo “is a sort of rock of Hollywood, wedded to a plain guy (pause, pause) just neighbors.”
Nabors, whom TV audiences saw as a good guy, country bumpkin type at heart, on the Andy Griffin and Gomer Pyle USMC shows, was shocked and appalled, commenting, “What can I say? It’s like a nightmare, a bad dream. It’s so ridiculous, yet so horrible. I really don’t know what to say. Of course, it’s untrue. But how do you convince people of something like that?”
Hudson and Nabors were casual friends, but neither star, enjoying highly successful careers on their own, wanted to be identified as gay. They agreed to stop speaking to each other. Nabors managed to survive the incident, appearing in several TV shows and entertainment engagements on the strength of his good-natured acting and singing talents.
Hudson, who remained closeted as much as he could get away with – his gayness was a well-known secret, with word-of-mouth circulation from steam bath habitues spreading his multiple-partner rumors during the so-called Sexual Revolution of the 70s and 80s – died of AIDS related causes in 1985.
In January of this year Nabors, 82, officially came out of the closet by marrying his partner of four decades, Stan Cadwallader, 64, in a swank Seattle Hotel. Happy, content, fulfilled, they returned to their shared home in Hawaii for sunshine and a few alohas and remaining well-deserved leis.
“I’m not ashamed of people knowing,” says Nabors. “It’s just a personal thing that I didn’t tell anybody.” (Don’t worry, Gomer. We already knew. But thanks for blowing your cool anyway.)