The Battle Cry star, Tab Hunter, took his last breath on July 8, just three days shy of his 87th birthday at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, California. His partner, Allan Glaser, confirmed that the cause of his death was a blood clot that led to cardiac arrest. Not just as the beloved boy-next-door in the 50s Warner Brothers classics like Damn Yankees and The Burning Hills, the actor was also famous as a blonde, square-jawed and wholesome symbol of mid-century American masculinity.
Hunter, born in 1931 as Arthur Gelien, was gay but opted to keep his sexual orientation a secret throughout his career, only coming out in his autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, in 2005. Here are five facts about the golden boy of the 50s, that you might want to know about.
Served in the military at 15
To join in the army, one must be at least 17 years old, but surprisingly Tab joined the military at just 15. He did so by lying about his age to enlist in the US Coast Guard, where he obtained the nickname 'Hollywood' because of his preference of watching movies rather than going to bars and parties during his free time. When the truth about his age was discovered, he immediately got discharged from the military. After his discharge, the famous actor, Dick Clayton, suggested that he try acting.
35-year long Relationship
Hunter and Allan Glaser first met each other during the early 80s, when Tab was 52 and Glaser was 23. The couple lived in a farmhouse at Santa Barbara with their pet horse, Harlow, not far from Oprah Winfrey’s mansion. Probably, his choice to not reveal his sexuality in the height of his career during the 60s and 70s was a wise decision he made. It was only in 2005 when he finally came out in his autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, which was later adapted into the movie of the same name.
Faked his Relationship with co-stars
When Hunter was born, homosexuality was considered a taboo and homosexual people were not accepted in the society, especially in Hollywood. So, he kept secret romances with figure skater, Ronnie Robertson and film star, Anthony Perkins, before settling down with Glaser. However, he used to go out with his co-stars, Natalie Wood and Debbie Reynolds, just to pretend that he was dating girls. Before LGBT rights movement broke in the 60s, his sexuality was handled with innuendo by the media. The closeted movie star constantly worried that his private life, which was totally different from his public life, would become the front-page fodder for gossip rags.
Grew up amidst family troubles
Hunter’s parents were both German immigrants, who lived in New York City where he was born. His father, Charles Kelm was abusive to his mother, Gertrude Gelien, a nurse. As a result, his mother fled with him and his brother, Walter, when they were very young. Afterward, they relocated to San Francisco, Long Beach and Los Angeles. His devout German mother, who brought him up very privately, inspired him not to talk about his sexuality.
Apart from his astounding movie career, he was also an avid musician, who charted the Billboard. His cover of the song, Young Love, became one of the largest hits of the Rock N’ Roll era, staying at no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks in the US and seven weeks in the UK. The record sold over 1 million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. Similar success was followed by the single, Ninety-Nine Ways, which peaked at no. 5 in the UK and no. 11 in the US. His success prompted film executive, Jack L Warner, to enforce his contract with the Warner Bros. studio by banning Dot Records, the label for which he had recorded the single.
What did you like the most about the late actor? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Tragic celebrity deaths in 2017 (Part 1)