HOLLYWOOD -- Rock Hudson's leading ladies and other former colleagues, including President Reagan, expressed their love and admiration for the actor, who died Wednesday of AIDS.
'Nancy and I are saddened by the news of Rock Hudson's death,' Reagan, a former actor, said in a statement from the White House. 'He will always be remembered for his dynamic impact on the film industry, and fans all over the world will certainly mourn his loss.
'He will be remembered for his humanity, his sympathetic spirit and well-deserved reputation for kindness,' Reagan's statement said. 'May God rest his soul.'
Elizabeth Taylor, his 'Giant' co-star and a close friend in his final days, was too grief-stricken to talk to reporters, but issued a short statement:
'I love him and tragically he is gone. Please God he did not!die in vain.'
Taylor also announced that Hudson had asked that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the American Foundation for AIDS Research, a new group that received $250,000 from the actor last week and will receive proceeds from his upcoming autobiography.
Linda Evans, Hudson's co-star on the ABC television series 'Dynasty' last season, also noted his impact on the fight against AIDS.
'As fine an actor as Rock was, and as much as he shared his craft with us,' she said, 'I feel his greatest gift to the world was in his acknowledgement of his disease and in his willingness to educate people and raise their consciousness.
'His death is a great loss to all of us, but his legacy will be our continued fight for a cure for AIDS.'
'Oh my God, what can I say?' Doris Day, Hudson's co-star in several romantic movie comedies, tearfully told United Press International when informed of the death.
'This is when our faith is really tested. It's so terrible, I can't believe it. All those years of working with him I saw him as big, healthy and indestructible.
'I am saddened by this and all I can do is uplift my thinking. Life is eternal. I hope we will meet again.'
Susan Saint James, Hudson's co-star on the 'McMillan and Wife' series, commented, 'I was among the few who knew him well, but only one of the millions who will miss him.
'No one taught me more than Rock did about the values of humanity and professionalism in show business and in life. I loved him so much.'
'I am very saddened,' said Carol Burnett, who co-starred with Hudson in a touring stage production of 'I Do! I Do!' 'He was a dear friend and a wonderful human being. I shall miss him very much.'
Actor Burt Reynolds said, 'It's the end of an era where a movie star really looked like a movie star. Rock was 6-foot-4, incredibly handsome and proved ... his unbelievable versatility. I never knew anyone who didn't like him.'
'I felt he was a very underestimated actor,' John Forsythe, Hudson's co-star on 'Dynasty,' said. 'We were very fond of him here on the show. We will miss him.'
'Rock and I were casual friends in high school (in Chicago),' actor Charlton Heston said. 'I regret the loss of a schoolmate and a major Hollywood star.'
Ernest Borgnine, who co-starred with Hudson in the movie 'Ice Station Zebra,' said, 'He was one of the finest gentlemen I have ever worked with in this business. It is very sad that he should have to die of such a terrible disease.'
'We've lost a fine actor,' comedian Joan Rivers said, 'and we can only pray that his death will bring more awareness to the seriousneess of this disease and the desperate need for funds to find a cure.'
'We were fortunate to be able to work with Rock Hudson, an outstanding professional, a marvelous human being and a man I was proud to call a friend,' 'Dynasty' producer Aaron Spelling said.
'Rock's illness has united our entertainment community in a massive fight against this dreaded disease. We can only hope that his death has not been in vain and that the entire country will contribute to stamping out this deadly plague of AIDS.'