Nader’s death another sad finale to a glamorous H’w’d life

GOOD MORNING: George Nader, who died Monday at age 80, was the sole heir of (the interest from) Rock Hudson’s estate. Nader’s ashes will be taken out to sea in the same yacht that transported Hudson’s remains and the service will be conducted by the same minister as at Hudson’s, Susan Stafford. I talked to Stafford and to Nader’s lifetime partner Mark Miller at the Nader-Miller home in Palm Springs Monday. Services will be private. Nader’s other survivors are cousins Sally Kubley and nephew, actor Michael Nader … Nader, who died at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital, had been stricken ill in June during a flight to Hawaii. Miller told me Nader “slowly disintegrated.” He was hospitalized in Palm Springs and in November transferred to the MPTVH. The cause of death was given as: Cardiac pulmonary failure, pneumonia and multiple cerebral infarctions. Miller, who was Nader’s partner of 55 years, was Hudson’s secretary for 13 years. He says he supported both Hudson and Nader before they got Universal contracts. Miller says he was a carhop at Jack’s on the Sunset Strip. He was called in the highly publicized legal suit by Mark Christian vs. Hudson’s estate. Christian claimed Hudson kept his AIDS diagnosis a secret from him and Miller claims Christian said he (Miller) “should have told me” (about Hudson’s AIDS). Miller’s response: “I told him it was up to Rock to tell him (about the AIDS), not me.” The settlement to Christian dropped to $5 million from $22 million … Miller says when doctors informed Hudson he had AIDS, “He told me five days later. He said you can tell George, but tell absolutely no one else. You were the first to announce he had it.” (My column in Daily Variety, July 23, 1985). Meanwhile neither Nader nor Miller worried about contracting AIDS from Hudson, he says, “because we never had sex with him — we were friends.” Nader came out of the closet in 1986. The dashing thesp had co-starred with Hollywood’s glamour ladies — including Esther Williams in “Unguarded Moment,” and Maureen O’Hara in “Lady Godiva.” Among the male co-stars were Tony Curtis who says, “He was a fine man and we had a great time on ‘Six Bridges to Cross.’ I will miss him.” Nader had written a book, “Chrome,” described by Miller as “a gay sci-fi.” And just wound writing another, “The Perils of Paul,” which he didn’t want published until after his death. It’s about the gay community in Hollywood with names camouflaged. Nader’s final public appearance was at Palm Springs’ Film Noir Fest in May 2001 with the screening of “Nowhere to Go,” which co-starred Maggie Smith … Nader’s death Monday was another sad finale of a glamorous Hollywood life.

AND TALKING ABOUT ROCK HUDSON — Doris Day is coming back to TV. Well, at least her CBSeries, “The Doris Day Show” — all 128 shows — are being transferred from the 35mm negatives on which it was shot to digital video. Producer Paul Brownstein lunched with Doris last week up at Carmel where she and her little friends (orphaned animals) live. He made a deal with Doris’s son Terry Melcher to distribute the shows for cable airing. Brownstein said Doris looks — “like Doris Day — in other words, fabulous.” No she will not appear in the shows or in wraparounds! But she was pleased that the 1968-1973 shows are getting a new life via her longtime company Arwin. William Morris’ Ruth Engelhardt agented the teaming as she had with Dick Van Dyke and Brownstein, “The Best of Groucho” and “The Honeymooners.” He also had a deal to air (PBS) Doris’ 1970 special “The Doris Ann Kappelhoff Special” guestarring Perry Como.

“A Clash of the Titans — a Dueling Biography of Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner” is the next book from Richard Hack whose “Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters” is back on the L.A. Times’ bestseller list after an absence of two months … George Clooney’s first directorial feature stint, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” is going very well, thank you. At least that’s what Chuck Barris reports. He’s the author of his autobiog (sorta) and is just back for having cameo’d (well sorta) on the pic co-starring Clooney, Julia Roberts and Drew Barrymore with Sam Rockwell portraying Barris and cameos by Brad Pitt, Matt Damon. He says everyone on the set has praise for Clooney’s directorial know-how. Even so, he wasn’t able to keep TVeteran Barris from being totally nervous. “When they said ‘roll ’em,’ I was frightened to death.” But it’s not stopping the gameshow master (“Dating Game,” “Gong Show,” etc.) from writing a sequel to “Dangerous Mind’ in which he’s a CIAgent — Clooney portrays a CIA agent. Miramax also has the film rights to the sequel. And Barris is now also producing an album, “Confessions of a Dangerous Singer” (!) in which he sings. He’s recuped totally from lung cancer … he had one third of his right lung removed two years ago and says he was totally OK on his last checkup a month ago … Ellen Gilbert and Ken Ziffren will wed in early Fall. He gave her the ring …. Sharon Lawrence and Dr. Thomas Apostle announce they will wed in May … Red Buttons celebrates his 83rd birthday today. He played to an SRO audience Sunday (Super Bowl Sunday!) at Citrus College in Glendora and soon heads to Toronto where he’s a recurring member of the “Street Time” series.

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