'Wheel of Fortune' Susan Stafford, Her Ministry in the Entertainment Industry, Rock Hudson's Prayer
By Dan Wooding, ASSIST Ministries On October 29, 2013
BEVERLY HILLS, CA (ANS) -- Susan Stafford, the original hostess of the hit TV show, "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 aged 59 on Oct. 2, 1985 from complications from AIDS.
Stafford, who preceded Vanna White on the popular game show, was given the "Andrew Award" on Saturday, October 19, 2013, at the Media Fellowship International 15th Annual Praise Brunch at the historic Beverly Hills Hotel, when MFI founder and president, Pastor Bob Rieth, presented her with one of its top honors in front of a star-studded audience of her peers.
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"The Andrew award is given to someone who has worked full time in the entertainment industry, but who is known for ministry -- usually personal and often behind-the-scenes," explained Rieth.
"Susan is a good example in the way she reaches out to the ill, the famous and the infamous. She works quietly and faithfully behind the scenes with no fanfare.
"Susan has been faithful in home and hospital visitation; to many well-known personalities in their homes and in times of critical illnesses.
She is faithful to meet with and to pray for them."
As Rieth then gave her the award, Stafford received a standing ovation from the many celebrities at the event which included veteran entertainer, Pat Boone; perennial radio and television favorite Wink Martindale, seated by his wife Sandy, who once dated Elvis Presley; actress; Jenn Gotzon, who is starring in a whole series of new movies and first came to fame in the "Frost/Nixon" Ron Howard film; and also Rosey Grier, now 81 years old, who had lost his wife to cancer some three years ago and has recently remarried and brought along his new wife, Cindy, 54.
One of the most well-known personalities that Susan Stafford worked with was Rock Hudson, who she told me, had become a Christian on his deathbed while she had been helping to nurse him in his home.
In a previous interview, Stafford said, "Yes, it is true that Rock Hudson accepted Jesus Christ on his deathbed. The last few hours with Rock Hudson were more than interesting because you see Shirley and Pat Boone had been up there with Gavin and Patty McLeod before them.
"He had a nurse taking care of him whose name was Toni. I never met Toni as she was on a different shift than my comings and goings at 'The Castle,' which was the name we called Rock's home in Beverly Hills.
(Rock Hudon reading the newspaper in his home )
"Because he was dying of AIDS, there was an unbelievable fear of AIDS at that time."
Susan Stafford also worked with leprosy patients
Susan, a born-again Christian who had left the popular game show in 1982, went on to say, "I had just come back from working with leprosy patients in India, along with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, so AIDS was not as frightening to me as it would be to most Americans at that time."
Susan said that friends had invited her to the house to assist Rock Hudson who was slowly slipping away because of his then dreaded illness, because she they knew she had no fear of AIDS.
She revealed that she knew that Rock Hudson had been raised a Roman Catholic and so she asked him hours before his death if he would like to see a priest. He said he would and so it was arranged for Fr. Terrance A. Sweeney, a five-time Emmy Award winning producer, an ex-Jesuit priest who was ordained to the priesthood on June 15, 1973, to come to his home.
"Rock and myself had a wonderful conversation and then, after the priest arrived, Rock, in a prayer with Fr. Sweeney, accepted our Lord Jesus Christ into his life and then he died shortly afterwards in his own bed on the second floor of the house."
Susan Stafford said she later conducted Rock Hudson's funeral and actress Morgan Fairchild was quoted as saying, "Rock Hudson's death gave AIDS a face."
Susan went on to say, "After his death, I went back home, which is Kansas City, Missouri, and I talked to people there about Rock Hudson. I was aware that in Missouri, there was a lot of judgment, but the Lord says very clearly that unconditional love, agape love, is the clearest most perfect love and He exhibited that when he died for us.
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(Rock Hudson pictured just before his death )
"So that means he accepts all of me and all of them because that's His commandment that we love one another.
"That's what I would say anybody who comes to you and has HIV/AIDS. You just love them up. That's what they need. If we don't love each other and instead just keep on judging everybody, we're not going to have any friends left."
Susan Stafford concluded by saying, "Rock Hudson was a real gentleman and accepted his illness with a great sense of humor despite being in a lot of pain."
(Pat Sajak, present host of Wheel Of Fortune, Susan Stafford and Merv Griffin )
Dr. Susan, who is now a PhD, has written up her story in book called "Stop The Wheel, I Want To Get Off!" You can get more information about the book and her extraordinary life inside and outside of show business, from her website, which is: www.susanstafford.org
Also honored at the event were Billy Davis Jr., and Marilyn McCoo, who after 44 years of marriage, received the "Ambassadors Award" from Bob Rieth for their service to God's Kingdom in the entertainment business.
"They are true ambassadors for Jesus Christ," said Rieth as he gave them a plaque, "and their long marriage is an inspiration to us all."
MFI's slogan is "Shining His Light in the Industry," and this is certainly what this couple has done and has now been rewarded for it in front of their peers.
For more information on Media Fellowship International, please go to:www.mediafellowship.org/
© 2013 ASSIST News