Facts about Tab Hunter
Tab Hunter Biography
Tab Hunter was a Hollywood pop idol of the 1950s, a screen heartthrob who also secretly lived the life of a gay man.
Tab 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, Tab Hunter had a solid career backed by enough studio power 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).
Tab Hunter told his own story, including details on his sexuality, in the 2005 memoir Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star. The book was the basis of a documentary film by the same name, released in 2015.
Tab Hunter died “from a blood clot that caused a heart attack, Allan Glaser, his romantic partner of more than three decades… describing his death as ‘unexpected and sudden,'” according to a story in The Hollywood Reporter on July 9, 2018.