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About 150 of Rock Hudson's friends and colleagues attended...

By JOHN BILOTTA

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- About 150 of Rock Hudson's friends and colleagues attended a private memorial service and party arranged by Elizabeth Taylor Saturday night at the actor's home, where he died of AIDS earlier this month.

The proceedings beginning about 5 p.m. were not revealed, but a little more than an hour later a trumpet was heard echoing a single, long note outside the clifftop home.

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Moments later, a Mexican mariachi band began to play, apparently beginning a party following the more solemn rememberances.

Names of the guests were not released, but celebrities seen arriving for the invitation-only event included Ricardo Montalban, Robert Mitchum, Angie Dickinson, Martha Raye, Glenn Ford, Roddy McDowall, Jessica Walters and Carol Burnett.

Almost all the guests drove past reporters without stopping, but actress Jane Withers, who appeared with Hudson and Taylor in the movie 'Giant,' got out of her car and said of the dead actor, 'He was a real gem ... and a joy to work with.'

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The list of those receiving invitations also was believed to have included Tom Clark, the actor's close companion who moved back into his home to take charge of affairs during the last months of Hudson's life, and the actor's publicist, Dale Olson.

'It's a closed gathering,' Chen Sam, a spokeswoman for Taylor, said earlier. 'This is really just a private gathering of his friends.'

Guests were told to bring their invitations to be allowed onto the street, which was closed by police and private security guards to all cars except those of residents, their friends or those attending the service.

The city of Los Angeles issued a permit allowing organizers to close off the block, situated on a rustic ridge near Coldwater Canyon, to keep the curious and the media from creating a disturbance, police said.

A helicopter twice flew over the home and yard, where Hudson reportedly enjoyed walks around the pool in his final weeks, with at least one video cameraman shooting pictures.

Another photographer who had climbed up the side of the canyon, dressed in green camouflage, was escorted off the property midway through the service.

Myra Hall, 22, a neighbor of the late actor, offered reporters temporary squatting rights on her property for $300 a person.

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'They're going to block off the street for anyone that doesn't have proof,' Hall said. 'The only way you can get in is if you have a pass that says you're invited to Hudson's memorial or if you have a pass to get to my house. They can't say you can't come to my house.'

Hudson was admitted last July to a Paris hospital for treatment of AIDS, which affects mostly homosexual men. The actor died in his sleep at his Beverly Hill home Oct. 2. He was 59.

Toni Phillips, a private nurse caring for Hudson, said Friday on the Christian Broadcasting Network's 'The 700 Club' that the actor got up from his hospital bed and prayed with her two weeks before he died.

Phillips, a born-again Christian, also said she was among a group of people who prayed over the 'semi-comatose' Hudson on Oct. 1, the night before he died.

People magazine reported last week that Hudson was visited the night before his death by a Pentecostal prayer group that included Pat Boone, his wife, Shirley and two nurses.

The film and television actor was long known in Hollywood to be homosexual, but he never acknowledged the fact publicly. He revealed through a spokeswoman that he had AIDS one year after learning that he had the disease.

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His health came into question this summer when he appeared with Day in mid-July to promote a television show in which she starred. He looked so gaunt and drawn that he was barely recognizable from his leading-man days that garnered him an Academy Award nomination in the film 'Giant,' opposite Taylor, and a series of successful comedies with Day.

In late September, at a star-studded fund-raiser in Los Angeles orchestrated by Taylor raised more than $1 million to fight AIDS, which has killed 6,000 Americans.

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