Hudson continued in small roles and supporting turns until lassoing the lead in the 1952 Western Scarlet Angel. Two years later, Hudson was cast in the film that made him a star: the 1954 remake of Magnificent Obsession. He scored an Oscar nod for his performance in Giant (1956), and in 1959 he teamed with Doris Day for Pillow Talk, one of several bedroom comedies that became his career hallmark.
Hudson transitioned to television in 1971 with "McMillan and Wife," part of a rotating anthology series. After contracting AIDS, Hudson was the first mainstream celebrity to go public with such information; he died from complications of the disease Oct. 2, 1985.