Rock Hudson's Wife Secretly Recorded His Gay Confession
On January 21, 1958, Rock Hudson's wife confronted him, demanding to know if he was gay and grilling the actor about a Rorschach test he had taken. "You told me you saw thousands of butterflies and also snakes," she said "[A therapist] told me in my analysis that butterflies mean femininity and snakes represent that male penis. I'm not condemning you, but it seems that as long as you recognize your problem, you would want to do something about it." She also complained about "your great speed with me, sexually. Are you that fast with boys?"
"Well, it's a physical conjunction [sic]," replied Rock, then 32. "Boys don't fit. So, this is why it lasts longer."
Added Phyllis: "Everyone knows that you were picking up boys off the street shortly after we were married and have continued to do so, thinking that being married would cover up for you."
"I have never picked up any boys on the street," Rock insisted. "I have never picked up any boys in a bar, never. I have never picked up any boys, other than to give them a ride."
This eye-popping dialogue -- tape-recorded surreptitiously by a detective whom Phyllis had hired to check on her husband, and transcribed on thin, crinkly paper -- is just part of the startling material that comprises the secret files of private eye Fred Otash. Now unveiled for the first time to The Hollywood Reporter by the detective's daughter, Colleen, and her business partner Manfred Westphal (a veteran publicist with APA, whose parents were Otash's neighbors), the records fill 11 overflowing boxes that for two decades have been hidden inside a storage unit in the San Fernando Valley.
The Hollywood Reporter obtained private eye Fred Otash's secret files, which also reveal a recording of JFK and Marilyn Monroe having sex and where Judy Garland hid her pills.
TAPING MARILYN MONROE
"Marilyn wanted a mini-phone listening device," Otash claims in the notes, adding that he spied on her even while she was paying him to install recording equipment so that she could tape her own phone calls. "You could hide it in your bra. The microphone was a wristwatch. You could also put a suction cup on the phone. Later on, she wanted a sophisticated system put in her house. We wired up her phone because it started looking stupid with a suction cup."
Otash listened in on Marilyn having sex with Kennedy when he was watching Lawford's house in Malibu, allegedly while working for Howard Hughes, who was seeking general information with which to discredit the Democrats. "When the original Lawford house was wired, Monroe was not part of the plan," Otash says in the files. "It was to find out what the Democrats were up to on behalf of Howard Hughes and Nixon. Monroe became a by-product."
The files include notes that he left for Colleen, in which he says he was conducting surveillance of Marilyn Monroe on the day she died.
“I listened to Marilyn Monroe die,” he claims in the notes, without elaborating, adding that he had taped an angry confrontation among Bobby Kennedy, Lawford and Monroe just hours before her death: “She said she was passed around like a piece of meat. It was a violent argument about their relationship and the commitment and promises he made to her. She was really screaming and they were trying to quiet her down. She’s in the bedroom and Bobby gets the pillow and he muffles her on the bed to keep the neighbors from hearing. She finally quieted down and then he was looking to get out of there.”
Otash only learned that Monroe had died when Lawford called him in the early hours of the following day and asked him to remove any incriminating evidence from her house. There is no record of what was removed, and the alleged tapes have since disappeared.
Shortly before Otash's death in 1992 at the age of 70, he told Vanity Fair: "I would have kept it quiet all my life. But all of a sudden, I'm looking at FBI files and CIA files with quotes from my investigators telling them about the work they did on my behalf. It's stupid to sit here and deny that these things are true. Yes, we did have [Lawford's house] wired. Yes, I did hear a tape of Jack Kennedy f--ing Monroe. But I don't want to get into the moans and groans of their relationship. They were having a sexual relationship -- period."
GUARDING JUDY GARLAND
One of the files also centers on Judy Garland, who hired Otash to protect her after she split from her third husband, Sid Luft, in 1963. The actress even got him to move into her Holmby Hills home, where he befriended daughter Liza Minnelli and found a hidden stash of pills. (A rep for Minnelli declined comment.)
The files elaborate on an experience he outlined in his 1976 autobiography, Investigation Hollywood: "I was shocked when I met Judy Garland the first time. She was no longer the little girl I remembered but a grown woman, puffy-faced and more than a little plump. ... I was only in Judy's house a couple of days when I realized that she was taking something. I wasn't sure if she was using narcotics or boozing it up. But she was obviously out of it most of the time."
He continued: "I gathered up all the bottles and locked them up. Then I began the search for pills. You wouldn't believe the cleverness of that woman in stashing her drugs so nobody could find them. And there were all kinds. Uppers, downers and some I didn't even recognize. They were stuffed into a hole she'd cut under the mattress and in rubber fingers tied at the top with the string tied again around the faucet of the washbasin. The pills were down in the crook of the pipe, and when she wanted them she just pulled them up by the almost invisible string. I dumped all that junk down the toilet and flushed it away."
When Otash confronted Garland, she demanded to know why he had destroyed the stash. He told her: "Narcotics and alcohol are the best evidence he [Luft] could ever produce in court. Believe me."
CLEARING LANA TURNER?
The detective also might have been involved in one of the most celebrated murders of the era, that of mobster Johnny Stompanato, though he gave various accounts of precisely how. Documents in the files indicate that Giesler (who represented movie star Lana Turner) called Otash and asked him to come to the actress' house the night of the gangster's death.
Stompanato had been dating Turner when, on the night of April 4, 1958, police were called to her house, where they found the gangster stabbed to death. Turner's teenage daughter, Cheryl Crane, then 14, took the blame, explaining that Stompanato had attacked her mother and that she had acted in defense -- an explanation accepted by the courts, where the death was ruled justifiable homicide. (The files indicate that Cheryl's father, Stephen Crane, had asked Otash to keep an eye on his daughter, and that he was afraid she was the object of Stompanato's desire.)
Westphal says Otash told him that he was on the scene of the crime before the police and actually removed the knife from the dead man's body, placing it in Crane's hand.
But in a 1991 Los Angeles magazine profile, Otash gave another account, saying: "Beverly Hills police chief Clinton Anderson once accused me of removing the knife from Stompanato's body, wiping off Lana Turner's fingerprints, putting on Cheryl Crane's fingerprints and then shoving the knife back into the body. Crazy."
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