Ex Wheel Of Fortune host Susan Stafford reveals how Rock Hudson received Christ just hours before he died from complications from AIDS

Ex Wheel Of Fortune host Susan Stafford reveals how Rock Hudson received Christ just hours before he died from complications from AIDS
She has now released a new book called Stop the Wheel, I Want to Get Off in which details what happened to the Hollywood star on his deathbed

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

BEVERLY HILLS, CA (ANS) -- susan Stafford, the original hostess of Wheel of Fortune, has revealed how she was present when a Catholic priest led Rock Hudson in the "sinner's prayer" to receive Jesus Christ into his life just hours before his death on Oct. 2, 1985 of complications from AIDS.

Dan Wooding with Susan Stafford

Stafford, who preceded Vanna White on the popular game show, revealed the inside story of Rock Hudson's final hours in an interview with me at the recent 10th Annual Media Fellowship International Praise Brunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

"Yes, it is true that Rock Hudson accepted Jesus Christ on his deathbed," she told me. "I was staying with Rock Hudson and Shirley and Pat Boone also came up to pray with him."

Susan Stafford, a born-again Christian, said that also there at that time was Fr. Terrance A. Sweeney, a five-time Emmy Award winning producer, an an ex-Jesuit priest who was ordained to the priesthood on June 15, 1973.

Rock Hudson shortly before he died

"Rock was a Roman Catholic and so we called in Fr. Sweeney and he prayed the 'sinner's prayer,' with him and then I prayed as did one of his nurses called Toni," she said. "I later did Rock's funeral."

When asked how the famous actor known for his urbane charm, dashing good looks, and virile masculinity that epitomized Hollywood's classic matinee idol image, but had been a closet homosexual for many years, had accepted the situation that he was dying from AIDS, Susan said, "He was a real gentleman and accepted it with a great sense of humor despite being in a lot of pain."

Dr. Susan, who is now a PhD, has a new book and her website -- www.susanstafford.org -- tells more about what the book contains.

Pat Sajak, present host of Wheel Of Fortune, Susan Stafford and Merv Griffin

"When anyone discovers that I'm the predecessor to Vanna White, they often look puzzled and ask, 'You gave up Wheel Of Fortune to help complete strangers! WHY?' This book will answer that question," she says.

"It is more than an answer to a burning question. It's a diary of my unorthodox, yet very fortunate life and career with all the twists and turns along the way. All of the experiences in my life have been used to transform me and shape my way of thinking. I truly hope my story will bring some measure of hope, comfort and insight to all who choose to plunge into this magical journey with me.

"I know you've heard the term, 'All that glitters is not gold.' Well, I'm living proof of that. Heaven and hell aren't just places you go when you die. They exist in our own lives on a daily basis and are played out according to the choices we make.

"My life has been very eventful to say the least, from working with leprosy in India to AIDS with Rock Hudson. I have had the privilege of knowing the rich and famous, but have also been close to the down and out. Regardless of a person's station in life, I am more intrigued with their character than the size of their bank account.

"This journey we call life is a long series of lessons. If we listen carefully, and sometimes, that's a big 'IF', we can learn. I have always learned best by example - the good, the bad and the ugly. If a new challenge presented itself, I would give it a try. I learned early on to face my fears and that is probably one of the best life lessons I know.

"Everyone has a story to tell . . . and this is mine."

Susan Stafford story is certainly quite extraordinary. While she was the original hostess on "Wheel Of Fortune", she was the first woman to be nominated for an Emmy on a game show.

She has worked with famous Hollywood celebrities, with leprosy patients in Third World countries with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, AIDS patients (including Rock Hudson), working as a Chaplain Intern with Dr. John Stehlin in Houston with cancer patients, receiving a Ph.D. in Psychology, and counseling with survivors and families at Columbine High School in Colorado following the tragic shootings.

She has been called a "Goodwill Ambassador to the World" and that seems to be a fitting title. Describing her life as full is an understatement. Susan has shared in her book how she has learned (and continues to learn) to deal with the realities of life we all face.

I concluded my interview with Susan by asking her to comment on Christians who criticize people who have HIV/AIDS and say that they deserve to have the illness because of their lifestyle.

"Well, it's easy to say this because I believe, with every portion of my heart, that you are talking to a sinner," she said. "Some sin more than others, but we're all sinners one way or the other. I do not think that a homosexual is less or more of a sinner than I am and I don't dare to judge that. Shame on the Christians that do it because love is the answer. If we don't love each other and instead just keep on judging everybody, we're not going to have any friends left."

Note: I would like to thank Robin Frost for transcribing this interview.


Dan Wooding, 67, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma of 45 years. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS); and US Bureau Chief for the Missionaries News Service (www.missionariesnews.tv) and Safe Worlds IPTV's Christian News Services. He was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. Wooding He is also the author of some 42 books, the latest of which is his autobiography, "From Tabloid to Truth", which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, go to www.fromtabloidtotruth.com. E-mail: danjuma1@aol.com.