Facts about Tab Hunter
Tab Hunter Biography
Tab Hunter was a Hollywood pop idol of the 1950s, a screen heartthrob who secretly lived the life of a gay man.
Hunter was born in New York City, but he and his brother were raised in southern California by a single mother. As a teenager, he ran off and joined the Coast Guard, only to be discharged for being underage.
While working in a horse stable, he was discovered by a Hollywood agent, who transformed him from Arthur Gelien into Tab Hunter and set about promoting him as an actor.
Hunter made his film debut in 1950’s The Lawless, and for the next decade he was one of the top movie stars under contract with Warner Brothers.
Blond and handsome, he was marketed as the All-American Boy in movies in which he played soldiers, cowboys and sincere sweethearts. Critics rolled their eyes at his acting, but audiences loved his dreamy looks and uncomplicated veneer.
His movie career led to a successful recording career, including a number one hit with the 1956 song “Young Love.”
While with Warner Brothers, Hunter had a solid career backed by studio power that was enough to keep his private life quiet. In magazines and tabloids, he was paired with Natalie Wood — his co-star from The Girl He Left Behind (1956) — while behind the scenes he dated men, including actor Anthony Perkins.
By the 1960s, tastes had changed, Hunter bought his way out of his studio contract and his screen career faded. He worked in dinner theater and lousy movies, and in 1981 his career was revived thanks to a role in the John Waters film Polyester.
His other films include Battle Cry (1955), The Sea Chase (1955, starring John Wayne), Damn Yankees! (1958), That Kind of Woman (1959, with Sophia Loren), The Pleasure of His Company (1961, starring Fred Astaire) and Lust in the Dust (1985).