Actor-Singer Tab Hunter Dies in Santa Barbara Days Before 87th Birthday

Tuesday, 10 Jul, 2018

Tab Hunter, the actor who found fame in the 1950s as a Hollywood heartthrob but who was forced to cover up his gay sexuality, has died aged 86. Allan Glaser, Hunter's romantic partner for more than 30 years, confirmed his death of a heart attack caused by a blood clot, calling his passing "unexpected and sudden", per the Hollywood Reporter.

The leading man revealed he was gay after decades of speculation in his 2005 autobiography "Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star".

Hunter's 1957 Dot Records recording of "Young Love", which stayed at No. 1 on the charts for six weeks, also spurred the creation of Warner Bros.

Willson, whose client roster included Rock Hudson, Robert Wagner, Troy Donahue and Rory Calhoun, was once described wryly as having a knack for "discovering and renaming young actors whose visual appeal transcended any lack of ability".

In the 1980s, he won new fans by appearing in cult movies with Divine, the 300-pound transvestite, notably John Waters' 1981 "Polyester" and Paul Bartel's 1985 "Lust in the Dust", co-produced by Hunter himself. "The dilemma, of course, that was being true to myself - and I'm talking sexually now - was impossible in 1953". "I'm very old-fashioned", he said in a 2015 interview.

Hunter was born Arthur Andrew Kelm on July 11, 1931, in New York City, but later moved to California when he was young.

With no dramatic training, Hunter was cast in a minor role in the 1950 drama, "The Lawless". He starred as Joe Hardy in the 1958 musical Damn Yankees! and was paired twice with fellow contract star Natalie Wood in The Burning Hills and The Girl He Left Behind. At the age of 15, he entered the Coast Guard after lying about his age.

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

It was Willson who gave him his stage name of "Tab Hunter" and he soon signed with Warner Bros., which is now owned by CNN's parent company AT&T.

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

"I thought, 'Look, get it from the horse's mouth and not from some horse's a* em *THR's Scott Feinberg in 2015".

And Hollywood, in that strangely serendipitous way, has one final act of Hunter's life to replay: a month ago the studio Paramount announced it was developing a film from J.J. Abrams and Zachary Quinto about Hunter's relationship with Perkins.