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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

HUDSON, ROCHELLE (1916–1972).

A Hollywood ingénue in 1930s movies, Rochelle Hudson (her real name was Rachael Elizabeth Hudson) was born in Oklahoma City on March 6, 1916. Her parents were Lenora Mae and Ollie L. Hudson; he was a statistician with the Oklahoma Labor Commission employment service. In 1927 or 1928 he moved his family to Los Angeles, California, and continued in government work.

Rochelle Hudson said that her mother arranged a screen test for her when she was thirteen years old. Within a few years she had minor, uncredited parts, and her first credited appearance as Rochelle Hudson came in 1930 in Fanny Foley Herself. One of her little-known accomplishments lay in playing the voice of a cartoon character for the Bosko series of short subjects produced by Warner Brothers and MGM from 1930 to 1937. She was the voice of Honey, Bosko's girlfriend, in thirty-two of the series's thirty-eight shorts.

Hudson appeared more than seventy features, some that remain well regarded films. In She Done Him Wrong (1933, Mae West, Cary Grant) she played a naïve young woman almost trucked into a life of shame. In Imitation of Life (1934, Claudette Colbert, Louise Beavers), she played Jessie, the daughter of Colbert's Bea Pullman. In 1934 she appeared with fellow Oklahoman Will Rogers in Judge Priest. In 1935 she played Mary Blair, older sister of Elizabeth Blair (played by Shirley Temple), in Curly Top. In Rebel Without a Cause (1955) she played the mother of Natalie Woods's character Judy, the love interest of the "rebel" played by James Dean. Although Hudson's career slowed after 1939, she continued to work intermittently in movies and television series, including thirty-nine weeks in 1954–55 in a little-known series That's My Boy. In 1964 she appeared in the Joan Crawford film Straightjacket.

Married and divorced four times, she joined her mother, Mae Gordon, in the real estate business in southern California in the 1970s. On January 17, 1972, Rochelle Hudson died at her home in Palm Desert, California, of pneumonia.

Dianna Everett

Learn More

Dianna Everett, "The Other Half: Oklahoma Women in the Movies," in Oklahoma @ the Movies, comp. Larry O'Dell (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 2012).

New York Times, 19 January 1972.


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Dianna Everett, “Hudson, Rochelle,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=HU011.

Published February 11, 2015

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