Tab Hunter, 1950s Hollywood heart-throb, dies aged 86

US actor Tab Hunter has died aged 86

US actor Tab Hunter has died aged 86

Tab Hunter was a 1950s teen heartthrob, but he broke ground in his 2005 memoir by speaking openly about being a closeted gay actor in old school Hollywood.

He finally confirmed his status as a gay icon by coming out in a 2005 autobiography, "Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star". In addition to his hit movies, his recording of "Young Love" topped the Billboard pop chart in 1957.

Clayton encouraged a young Hunter to consider acting and set him up with agent Henry Willson.

Hunter also starred in two films with actress Natalie Wood: The Burning Hills and The Girl He Left Behind. "The dilemma, of course, that was being true to myself - and I'm talking sexually now - was impossible in 1953". Allan Glaser, Hunter's partner of more than three decades, told The Hollywood Reporter that his passing was "unexpected and sudden".

Born Arthur Andrew Kelm in NY in 1931, Hunter shot first broke into the movie industry with a small role in 1950 drama The Lawless. Young Arthur Gelien grew up in San Francisco and Long Beach, California, and joined the Coast Guard at 15, lying about his age. "But this was very hard for me".

Hunter's most famous role was Joe Hardy in the 1958 Damn Yankees! movie.

"I believed, wholeheartedly - still do - that a person's happiness depends on being true to themselves", Hunter wrote.

Though Hunter's blonde hair and bare torso would become enmeshed with the "beach party" genre, he in fact only ever made one of them: Ride the Wild Surf, which was filmed on location in Hawaii and co-starred Fabian, Barbara Eden and James Mitchum.

"I thought, 'Look, get it from the horse's mouth and not from some horse's ass after I'm dead and gone, '" Hunter told THR's Scott Feinberg in 2015.

Over the years, he also had small roles in "The Loved One", "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean" and "Grease 2".

During his most prominent years in Hollywood, despite the fact that being gay at the time was very taboo, Tab Hunter had relationships with Psycho star Anthony Perkins and figure skater Robbie Robertson.

The 1980s brought a new kind of fame as avant garde director John Waters cast him in several movies opposite transvestite performer Divine.

In June it was announced that JJ Abrams and Zachary Quinto are producing the movie "Tab & Tony" about the secret love affair. "I just didn't like any suggestions or questioning of my sexuality".

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