During this period was when Hudson met Marc Christian, and the two found each other linking up in a lot of ways. By then, Hudson lived in a huge mansion in Beverly Hills, which he referred to as “The Castle.” It was there he spent most of his free time, no longer feeling like he needed to spend a lot of time in the public eye.
He and Marc spent a great deal of time there together, in order to stay out of the public eye. Marc ended up being his most long-lasting relationship, though there were quite a lot of others. Some other assumed relationships that Hudson had were with Jack Coates, Tom Clark, actor and stockbroker Lee Garlington, and novelist Armistead Maupin.
A Regular Role
Instead of bouncing around from one project to the next, Hudson decided to do a little settling down when it came to his career. The NBC American police procedural show “McMillan & Wife” (it would be shortened to “McMillan” during 1976 and 1977) starred Hudson and Susan Saint James as the title roles. It was part of Universal Television’s wheel series “NBC Mystery Movie,” which also included “Columbo” and “McCloud.”
There were six seasons with a total of 40 episodes, with most of them running two full hours, including ads. For the first two years, the episodes were only about 90 minutes each. Hudson was a former criminal defense attorney who became a San Francisco police commissioner. Susan Saint James was his wife, and she would frequently help solve crimes.
The Rest of the Cast
Rounding out the rest of the show was John Schuck as McMillan’s aide Sgt. Charles Enright and Nancy Walker as the hard-drinking maid of the lead couple – she provided the comic relief. Oddly, McMillan’s wife Sally is pregnant at the end of season one, but at the start of season two, the change was retconned away.
She again gets pregnant in season four, and the couple have a boy in the final episode, but the baby is not seen or mentioned in season five. The final season also removed Susan Saint James’s character, which prompted the renaming of the show. The show was an immediate hit that allowed Hudson to settle into a character a little bit. He was all-in, too: in the pilot episode, the interior of the McMillan house is Hudson’s real home.
The Famous Urban Legend
For some reason, in the early 70s, an urban legend began to circulate, saying that Hudson was married to actor Jim Nabors. Not only was such an act not allowed in the United States at the time, but Nabors and Hudson have only ever been described as friends. The joke went that Hudson would take the surname of Nabors’s famous character Gomer Pyle, thus becoming “Rock Pyle.”
The joke was so widespread that the October 1972 edition of “MAD” magazine featured a joke about the fake relationship, which was spread by people who failed to get the joke. As a result, Hudson and Nabor are said to have never spoken to each other again, and at least weren’t seen in public with one another ever again.
In 1981, with Hudson now sitting pretty at about 55 years old, he began to develop health problems. All his life he had been a heavy smoker and drinker, and the vices were finally beginning to take a toll. These complications eventually led to a heart attack in November of that year.
Hudson underwent an emergency quintuple bypass surgery, which sidelined his new TV show “The Devlin Connection” for a year – the show was canceled in December 1982, not long after it aired. His health also forced him to turn down the role of Col. Sam Trautman in the Sylvester Stallone movie “First Blood” which is a bit of a shame, since it’s likely to have been Hudson’s most popular and maybe even his most successful movie. Even after his emergency surgery, Hudson continued to smoke.