“I lived a very don't-ask, don't-tell life.”
My fascination with the life and work of Hollywood Icon Tab Hunter began when he made a surprise appearance at London’s LGBT BFI Flare Film Festival in 2015 for Jeffrey Schwarz’s film TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL.
I was intrigued by his riveting life story and work in Hollywood’s golden era, at a time when if he had lived the lifestyle that he truly wanted to, his career and any future in the entertainment industry would have been totally destroyed.
His passing on July 8, 2018 at the age of 86, was truly heartbreaking and hit me even more as my father had also been very poorly and passed away two days after he did.
Tab Hunter was actually born Arthur Andrew Kelm in New York City, but when his parents split up his mother changed his and his brother’s names to her maiden name which was "Gelien."
At the age of 15 Hunter ran away from home to join the Coast Guard, but was dismissed from service after it was discovered he had lied about his age.
He was working at horse stables in the Los Angeles area when actor Dick Clayton spotted him while there to do a photo-shoot. Clayton encouraged him to consider acting as a career and introduced him to notorious agent Henry Willson, who was well known to represent Hollywood’s beautiful boys, most notably the legendary Rock Hudson. It was Willson who gave him his stage name of "Tab Hunter", and soon after this he was very quickly signed up by Warner Bros. Pictures.
He starred in a number of notable roles including "The Girl He Left Behind," opposite Natalie Wood and also as Joe Hardy in the film adaptation of the musical "Damn Yankees".
Hunter also launched a career in music and had his first hit Number 1 single "Young Love" in 1957 – the Warner Music label was actually initially started because of his musical success, as Jack Warner did not want him to be signed by anyone else!
Other later roles in his somewhat roller-coaster of a career included John Waters’ “Polyester” opposite Divine and a role as Mr Stuart in "Grease 2".
Tab Hunter pictured with Partner Allan Glaser
(All images courtesy : http://www.tabhunterconfidential.com/)
He was truly gorgeous, had a magnetic smile and still made people swoon in his later years.
The actor came out openly in his 2005 autobiography and among several other anecdotes, revealed his relationship with "Psycho" star Anthony Perkins. It has been announced that JJ Abrams and Zachary Quinto are producing the movie "Tab & Tony" about this secret love affair. He was to settle down with Producer Allan Glaser for 35 glorious years. Glaser who he met during the making of the cult comedy-Western 1985’s “Lust in The Dust”, also worked with him on the wonderfully eye opening and engaging 2015 documentary.
Tab Hunter handled his Hollywood journey with the utmost class, grace, gratitude, modesty and humor, an example we could all follow.
Tab Hunter: 11 July 1931 - 8 July 2018
Rest in peace.
TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL STREAMED ON NETFLIX
The film can also be rented or purchased on You Tube
Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star
by Tab Hunter, Eddie Muller
To learn more visit : http://www.tabhunter.com/