Dreamboat Adrift

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Tab Hunter was a clean-cut, all-American ’50s dreamboat heartthrob. But when rumors surfaced that he was gay, Hunter found himself torn between being true to himself and trying to save his nosediving career.

Images of Hunter show up on vintage Ivy message boards, such as the Film Noir Buff Talk Ivy board, and he is featured in the UK coffee-table book “Hollywood And The Ivy Look.” Now a recent documentary, “Tab Hunter Confidential,” based on the actor’s autiobiography, is making the rounds at film festivals and art houses. It just finished a screen run last week in Miami; no word yet when it will be released on DVD.

This quote from Hunter’s wiki page summarizes the actor’s struggles being a closeted gay man during the Hollywood studio era:

During Hollywood’s studio era, Hunter says, “[life] was difficult for me, because I was living two lives at that time. A private life of my own, which I never discussed, never talked about to anyone. And then my Hollywood life, which was just trying to learn my craft and succeed…” The star emphasizes that the word ‘gay’ “wasn’t even around in those days, and if anyone ever confronted me with it, I’d just kinda freak out. I was in total denial. I was just not comfortable in that Hollywood scene, other than the work process.”[14] “There was a lot written about my sexuality, and the press was pretty darn cruel,” the actor says, but what “moviegoers wanted to hold in their hearts were the boy-next-door marines, cowboys and swoon-bait sweethearts I portrayed.”

Hunter also had one hit song in 1957. Well written by pop standards of the time, Hunter struggles a bit with the delivery. Entitled “Young Love,” it was apparently the proverbial love that dare not speak its name.  Below the clip is a short image gallery. — CC

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16 Comments on "Dreamboat Adrift"

  1. Just imagine! A gay man wearing Ivy style! Who ever heard of such a thing?

  2. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | January 26, 2016 at 1:29 pm |

    He looks like the real life persona Justin Hopwood portrays in all those RL ads.

    It’s incredible how his career trajectory was kinda similar to Cliff Richard in the UK. Both were good looking/well dressed gentlemen, both queer as a hooded sport coat. It is amazing how far humanity has come in the last half century. Let’s hope we continue to evolve.

  3. According to the “Hollywood Reporter”, the Motion Picture Academy is throwing Tab Hunter, and all the older members, out………..

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/race/academys-new-voting-rules-raise-858388

  4. Hollywood is and always has been full of successful actors and actresses that live double lives, both gay and straight. It’s Hollywood.

  5. Ward Wickers | January 26, 2016 at 4:17 pm |

    Hunter says, “[life] was difficult for me, because I was living two lives at that time.” That is a remarkable understatement. Imagine what it must have taken for him to play the roles of “boy-next-door marines, cowboys and swoon-bait sweethearts …” Pretty impressive guy. I’d like to have that kind of focus and commitment.

  6. Wait, there are homosexuals in California…the hell you say.

  7. Henry Contestwinner | January 26, 2016 at 5:50 pm |

    Hollywood is also full of child molesters, according to Corey Feldman.

    I think that John Waters cast Tab Hunter in Polyester precisely because of Hunter’s “split personality,” i.e., the disjoint between his personal life and his professional life, and also because Hunter was a has-been. That sort of tawdriness is essential to Waters’ films.

  8. Henry Contestwinner | January 26, 2016 at 5:50 pm |

    Sacksuit, everyone knows California is the land of the fruits and nuts!

  9. Ward Wickers | January 26, 2016 at 6:22 pm |

    Henryctwr

    No one is talking about child molesters. Why bring that up?

    ‘Split personality’ has nothing to do with gay vs straight or personal vs public life. Personality is very different than gender and sexual orientation.

  10. Ward Wickers | January 26, 2016 at 6:34 pm |

    Sorry, didn’t finish …

    Tawdry? My goodness. What’s you fantasy here, Henrycts?

  11. Incredible as the music was decayed by from 40s in only ten years.
    From immortals jazz songs to..young love!

  12. Henry Contestwinner | January 26, 2016 at 11:53 pm |

    Leaving aside the other stuff, have you ever seen a John Waters film, Ward? Tawdriness is one of the key elements of his oeuvre. He revels in it! Why must I have a “fantasy” because I recognize this?

  13. Bags' Groove | January 27, 2016 at 3:19 am |

    Someone’s got to say it:
    Tab in a tab!
    And a damned smart striped one, as well.
    How and why did tab collars like that become an endangered species?

  14. Marc Chevalier | January 27, 2016 at 11:42 pm |

    I hope very much that Christian, Bruce B., or Richard Press will write an article about tab collars. They deserve some limelight.

  15. Was a very big fan of this blog. Even bought the Take Ivy Style book. 2 copies. One for my boss one for me. Now very disappointed to read the comments of this post. Just don’t want to be part of this set. Can’t share the love for an aesthetic if I know this is your ethic.

  16. @Jose

    I agree. I was also disappointed to see how the community here regard tab collars so highly.

    Will

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