Actor Tab Hunter died yesterday at the age of 86, prompting a revisit of this 2016 post, updated with new images.
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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.” “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 secretly that proverbial love that dare not speak its name. — CC