Born Trent Bernard Durkin in New York City, Durkin began his acting career in theater while a child. He entered films in 1930, playing the role of Huckleberry Finn in Tom Sawyer (1930), and Huckleberry Finn (1931). Under contract with RKO Radio Pictures he was cast in a series of “B” films in comedic roles that capitalized on his gangly appearance. He achieved another success in Hell's House (1932) co-starring then newcomer Bette Davis.
RKO began grooming him for a transition into more adult roles, and in his final film Chasing Yesterday (1935), he was billed as Trent Durkin.
In 1935 he was traveling with his friend, actor Jackie Coogan, and three other people, including Coogan's father and producer Robert J. Horner, when their vehicle was involved in a road accident in San Diego, California. Jackie Coogan was the only survivor of the accident. Durkin was living with agent Henry Willson at the time of his death. The two reportedly were lovers.
Durkin was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson by Robert Hofler
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press (September 12, 2006)
Amazon: The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson
Henry Willson started off as a talent scout under Gone with the Wind's powerhouse mogul, David O. Selznick. The starmaker-to-be was on the lookout for promising newcomers when he received an unsolicited photograph from a movie star hopeful named Roy Fitzgerald. The photograph of the handsome young man with bad teeth not only had a career defining impact for Willson but, more importantly, it redefined Hollywood's concept of the male heartthrob. Roy Fitzgerald became Rock Hudson and, for the next twenty-five years, Henry Willson became the man behind movie "beefcake." The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson delves into Willson's life in explicit, unsparing detail. Variety reporter Robert Hofler deftly chronicles Willson's maneuvers to sidestep the FBI's investigation into Hudson's sex life; the agent's use of off-duty L.A.P.D. cops and Mob ties to scare off Hudson's blackmailers; Hudson's "arranged" marriage to Willson's secretary, Phyllis Gates; as well as Hudson's affair with a Universal Pictures vice-president to help secure starring roles. Additionally, the book discusses Willson's other star clients, including Robert Wagner, Troy Donahue, Tab Hunter, John Derek, James Darren, Chad Everett, Mike Connors, and many others.
More LGBT History at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Gay Classics
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