Tab Hunter (born Arthur Andrew Kelm; July 11, 1931 – July 8, 2018) was an American actor, singer, film producer, and author. Known for his blond, clean-cut good looks, Hunter starred in more than forty films. He was a Hollywood heartthrob of the 1950s and 1960s appearing on the covers of hundreds of film magazines. Hunter's film credits include Battle Cry (1955), The Girl He Left Behind (1956), Gunman's Walk (1958), and Damn Yankees (1958). Hunter also had a music career in the late 1950s; in 1957, he released a number one hit single "Young Love". Hunter's 2005 autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, was a New York Times bestseller.
Arthur Andrew Kelm
July 11, 1931
|Died||July 8, 2018 (aged 86)|
|Resting place||Santa Barbara Cemetery, California, U.S.|
|Other names||Art Gelien|
Arthur Andrew Kelm was born in Manhattan, New York City, the son of Gertrude (née Gelien) and Charles Kelm. Kelm's father was Jewish, and his mother was a Catholic German immigrant from Hamburg.[a] He had an older brother, Walter. Kelm's father was reportedly abusive, and within a few years of his birth, his parents divorced. He was raised in California, living with his mother, his brother, and his maternal grandparents, John Henry and Ida (née Sonnenfleth) Gelien; the family resided in San Francisco, Long Beach and Los Angeles. His mother re-assumed her maiden surname, Gelien, and changed her sons' surnames as well. As a teenager, Arthur Gelien (as he was then known) was a figure skater, competing in both singles and pairs. Gelien was sent to Catholic school by his religious mother.
Gelien joined the United States Coast Guard at age fifteen, lying about his age to enlist. While in the Coast Guard, he gained the nickname "Hollywood" for his penchant for watching movies rather than going to bars while on liberty. When his superiors discovered his true age, they discharged him. Gelien met actor Dick Clayton socially; Clayton suggested that he become an actor.
Hunter's first film role was a minor part in a film noir, The Lawless (1950). Hunter was a friend of character actor Paul Guilfoyle, who suggested him to director Stuart Heisler; Heisler was looking for an unknown to play the lead in Island of Desire (1952) opposite Linda Darnell. The film, essentially a two-hander between Hunter and Darnell, was a hit.
Hunter supported George Montgomery in Gun Belt (1953), a Western produced by Edward Small. Small used him again for a war film, The Steel Lady (1953), supporting Rod Cameron, and as the lead in an adventure tale, Return to Treasure Island (1954). He began acting on stage, appearing in a production of Our Town. Hunter was then offered, and accepted, a contract at Warner Bros.
One of Hunter's first films for Warner Bros. was The Sea Chase (1955), supporting John Wayne and Lana Turner. It was a big hit, but Hunter's part was relatively small. Rushes were seen by William A. Wellman, who cast Hunter to play the younger brother of Robert Mitchum in Track of the Cat (1954). It was a solid hit and Hunter began to get more notice.
His breakthrough role came when he was cast as the young Marine Danny in 1955's World War II drama Battle Cry, which was the year's third most financially successful film. His character has an affair with an older woman, but ends up marrying the girl next door. It was based on a bestseller by Leon Uris and became Warner Bros.' largest grossing film of that year, cementing Hunter's position as one of Hollywood's top young romantic leads.
In September 1955, the tabloid magazine Confidential reported that Hunter had been arrested for disorderly conduct in 1950. The innuendo-laced article, and a second one focusing on Rory Calhoun's prison record, were the result of a deal Henry Willson had brokered with the scandal rag in exchange for not revealing to the public the sexual orientation of his more prominent client, Rock Hudson. The report had no negative effect on Hunter's career. A few months later, he was named Most Promising New Personality in a nationwide poll sponsored by the Council of Motion Picture Organizations. In 1956, he received 62,000 valentines. Hunter, James Dean, and Natalie Wood were the last actors to be placed under an exclusive studio contract at Warner Bros. Warner decided to promote him to star status, teaming him with Natalie Wood in two films, a Western, The Burning Hills (1956), directed by Heisler, and The Girl He Left Behind (1956), a service comedy. These films also proved to be hits with audiences. Warners planned a third teaming of Hunter and Wood but Hunter rejected the third picture, thus ending Warners' attempt to make Hunter and Wood the William Powell and Myrna Loy of the 1950s. Hunter was Warner Bros.' most popular male star from 1955 until 1959.
Hunter received strong critical acclaim for a television performance he gave in the debut episode of Playhouse 90 ("Forbidden Area", 1956) written by Rod Serling and directed by John Frankenheimer.
Hunter's acting career was at its peak. William Wellman used him again in a war film, Lafayette Escadrille (1958). Columbia Pictures borrowed him for a Western, Gunman's Walk (1958). Hunter claimed, "When Gunman's Walk premiered the following summer, it was one of the proudest moments of my career." Hunter starred in the musical film Damn Yankees (1958), in which he played Joe Hardy of Washington, D.C.'s American League baseball club. The film had originally been a Broadway musical, but Hunter was the only one in the film version who had not appeared in the original cast. The show was based on the best-selling 1954 book The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant by Douglass Wallop. Hunter later said the filming was hellish because director George Abbott was interested only in recreating the stage version word for word. He also starred in They Came to Cordura (1959) (with Gary Cooper and Rita Hayworth) and That Kind of Woman (1959) (with Sophia Loren).
Hunter had a 1957 hit record with the song "Young Love," which was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six weeks (seven weeks on the UK Chart), and became one of the larger hits of the Rock 'n' Roll era. It sold more than two million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA.
Hunter had another hit single, "Ninety-Nine Ways", which peaked at No. 11 in the United States and No. 5 in the United Kingdom. His success prompted Jack L. Warner to enforce the actor's contract with the Warner Bros. studio by banning Dot Records, the label for which Hunter had recorded the single (and which was owned by rival Paramount Pictures), from releasing a follow-up album he had recorded for them. He established Warner Bros. Records specifically for Hunter.
Hunter's failure to win the role of Tony in the film adaptation of West Side Story (1961) prompted him to agree to star in a weekly television sitcom. The Tab Hunter Show had moderate ratings (due to being scheduled opposite The Ed Sullivan Show) and lasted for one season (1960–61) of 32 episodes. It was a hit in the United Kingdom, where it ranked as one of the most watched situation comedies of the year. Hunter's costars in the series included Richard Erdman, Jerome Cowan, and Reta Shaw.
Hunter had a starring role as Debbie Reynolds' love interest in The Pleasure of His Company (1961). He played the lead in a swashbuckler shot in Egypt, The Golden Arrow (1962) and was in a war movie for American International Pictures, Operation Bikini (1963).
Ride the Wild Surf (1964) was a surf film for Columbia, followed by a movie in Britain, Troubled Waters (1964). He stayed in England to make another picture for AIP, War Gods of the Deep (1965). Back in Hollywood he had a supporting role in The Loved One (1965) and Birds Do It (1966). He made a film with Richard Rush, The Fickle Finger of Fate (1967).
For a short time in the late 1960s, after several seasons of starring in summer stock and dinner theater in shows such as Bye Bye Birdie, The Tender Trap, Under the Yum Yum Tree, and West Side Story with some of the New York cast, Hunter settled in the south of France and acted in many Italian films including Vengeance Is My Forgiveness (1968), The Last Chance (1968), and Bridge over the Elbe (1969).
Hunter had the lead role in Sweet Kill (1973), the first movie from director Curtis Hanson. He won a co-starring role in the successful film The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972) with Paul Newman. He had small roles in Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976) and Katie: Portrait of a Centerfold (1978). In 1977 he played George Shumway, the father of Mary Hartman (played by Louise Lasser) on Forever Fernwood, a spinoff of the soap-like sitcom Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.
Hunter's career was revived in the 1980s, when he starred opposite actor Divine in John Waters' Polyester (1981) and Paul Bartel's Lust in the Dust (1985). He played Mr. Stuart, the substitute teacher in Grease 2 (1982), who sang "Reproduction". Hunter had a major role in the 1988 horror film Cameron's Closet.
Hunter's last film role came in the horse-themed family film Dark Horse (1992). Hunter, a longstanding horse owner, wrote the original story and co-produced the film with his life partner, Allan Glaser.
Hunter's autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star (2005), co-written with Eddie Muller, became a New York Times bestseller, as did the paperback edition in 2007. In his memoir, Hunter officially came out as gay, confirming rumors that had circulated since the height of his fame. The book was nominated for several awards. It entered the New York Times' bestseller list for a third time on June 28, 2015, upon the release of Tab Hunter Confidential, an award-winning documentary based upon the memoir. The documentary was directed by Jeffrey Schwarz and produced by Allan Glaser. As of June 2018, a feature film about Hunter to be produced by Glaser, J. J. Abrams and Zachary Quinto was in development at Paramount Pictures. Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning writer Doug Wright is attached to create the screenplay.
Hunter has a star for his contributions to the music industry on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6320 Hollywood Blvd. In 2007, the Palm Springs Walk of Stars dedicated a Golden Palm Star to him.
Hunter came out publicly as a gay man in his 2005 memoir. According to William L. Hamilton of The New York Times, detailed reports about Hunter's alleged romances with close friends Debbie Reynolds and Natalie Wood during his young adult years had strictly been the fodder of studio publicity departments. As Wood and Hunter embarked on a well-publicized but fictitious romance, insiders had developed their own headline for the item: "Natalie Wood and Tab Wouldn't". Regarding Hollywood's studio era, Hunter said, "[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 emphasized 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 said, but what "moviegoers wanted to hold in their hearts were the boy-next-door marines, cowboys, and swoon-bait sweethearts I portrayed."
Hunter had a long-term relationship with actor Anthony Perkins after having met him at the Chateau Marmont during the filming of Friendly Persuasion in 1956. Their relationship spanned two to four years, and Hunter has said that they only broke up because of Perkins's movie studio, Paramount, and the studio system. However, he remembered Perkins as a "special part of my journey. He wanted to be a movie star more than anything. I wanted that too, but not with the same kind of drive he had. We were such opposites - but then maybe that was the attraction." He also had a relationship with champion figure skater Ronnie Robertson before settling down and marrying his partner/spouse of more than 35 years, film producer Allan Glaser.
Hunter was raised in his mother's Catholic faith. Except for a period in his youth, Hunter was a practicing Catholic for the rest of his life. When asked about his Jewish identity, due to his father and partner/spouse being Jewish, Hunter stated that he did not identify as Jewish. Hunter was an avid horse owner.
Hunter's brother Walter Gelien, who was killed in Vietnam on October 28, 1965, was survived by his wife and seven children.
On July 8, 2018, three days shy of his 87th birthday, Hunter died after suffering cardiac arrest that arose from complications related to deep vein thrombosis. According to his husband Allan Glaser, Hunter's death was "sudden and unexpected."
|1950||The Lawless||Frank O'Brien||also released under the title The Dividing Line|
|1952||The Island of Desire||Marine Corporal Michael J. "Chicken" Dugan||also released under the title Saturday Island|
|1953||Gun Belt||Chip Ringo|
|The Steel Lady||Bill Larson||also released under the title Treasure of Kalifa|
|1954||Return to Treasure Island||Clive Stone||also narrator|
|Track of the Cat||Harold Bridges|
|1955||Battle Cry||Danny Forrester|
|The Sea Chase||Cadet Wesser|
|1956||The Burning Hills||Trace Jordan|
|The Girl He Left Behind||Andy L. Shaeffer|
|1958||Gunman's Walk||Ed Hackett|
|Lafayette Escadrille||Thad Walker|
|Damn Yankees||Joe Hardy||also released under the title What Lola Wants in the UK|
|1959||They Came to Cordura||Lt. William Fowler|
|That Kind of Woman||Red||directed by Sidney Lumet|
|1961||The Pleasure of His Company||Roger Henderson|
|1962||The Golden Arrow||Hassan|
|1963||Operation Bikini||Lt. Morgan Hayes|
|1964||Ride the Wild Surf||Steamer Lane|
|Troubled Waters||Alex Carswell|
|1965||City Under the Sea||Ben Harris||released as War Gods of the Deep in the U.S.|
|The Loved One||Whispering Glades Tour Guide|
|1966||Birds Do It||Lt. Porter|
|1967||The Fickle Finger of Fate||Jerry||a.k.a. El Dedo del Destino and The Cup of San Sebastian|
|Hostile Guns||Mike Reno|
|1968||Vengeance Is My Forgiveness||Sheriff Durango|
|The Last Chance||Patrick Harris|
|1969||Bridge over the Elbe||Richard|
|1972||Sweet Kill||Eddie Collins|
|The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean||Sam Dodd|
|1975||Timber Tramps||Big Swede|
|1976||Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood||David Hamilton|
|Grease 2||Mr. Stuart|
|And They're Off||Henry Barclay|
|1985||Lust in the Dust||Abel Wood||Executive producer|
|1988||Out of the Dark||Driver|
|Cameron's Closet||Owen Lansing||Executive producer|
|1992||Dark Horse||Perkins||Executive producer and film story credit|
|2015||Tab Hunter Confidential||Self||Autobiographical documentary|
|1955||Ford Television Theatre||Gig Spevvy||Episode: "While We're Young"|
|1955; 1957||Climax!||Jimmy Piersall|
|1956||Conflict||Donald McQuade||Episode: "The People Against McQuade"|
|1956; 1958||Playhouse 90||Donald Bashor / Stanley Smith|
|1958||Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates||Hans Brinker||TV film|
|1959||General Electric Theater||Daniel||Episode: "Disaster"|
|1960–61||The Tab Hunter Show||Paul Morgan||32 episodes; Title character and producer|
|1962||Saints and Sinners||Sergeant Eddie Manzak||Episode: "Three Columns of Anger"|
|Combat!||Del Packer||Episode: "The Celebrity"|
|1964||Burke's Law||Barney Blake||Episode: "Who Killed Andy Zygmut?"|
|1970||San Francisco International Airport||Stayczek||1 episode|
|The Virginian||Cart Banner||Episode: "The Gift"|
|1971||Disneyland||Tim Andrews||Episode: "Hacksaw"; Rebroadcast and syndicated as two episodes.|
|1972||Cannon||Bob Neal||Episode: "Treasure of St. Ignacio"|
|Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law||Howard Reimer||Episode: "Starting Over Again"|
|1973||Ghost Story||Bob Herrick||Episode: "The Ghost of Potter's Field"|
|1975||The Six Million Dollar Man||Arnold Blake||Episode: "The Cross-Country Kidnap"|
|1976||Ellery Queen||John Randall||Episode: "The Adventure of the Black Falcon"|
|Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman||George Shumway #2||Several un-credited cameo appearances|
|McMillan & Wife||Roger Thornton||Episode: "Greed"|
|1977||The Love Boat||Dave King||Episode: "The Joker Is Mild/Take My Granddaughter, Please/First Time Out"|
|Forever Fernwood||George Shumway||1 episode; several un-credited cameo appearances|
|1978||Hawaii Five-O||Mel Burgess||Episode: "Horoscope for Murder"|
|Katie: Portrait of a Centerfold||Elliot Bender||TV film|
|Police Woman||Martin Quinn||"Blind Terror"|
|1979||The Kid from Left Field||Bill Lorant||TV film|
|1980||Charlie's Angels||Bill Maddox||Episode: "Nips and Tucks"|
|1981||Strike Force||Vorhees||Episode: "Night Nurse"|
|1982||Benson||Roy Lucas||season 4 episodes 1 & 2|
|1982||Fridays||Self-Guest Host||season 3 episode 13|
|1984||The Fall Guy||Anthony Haley||Episode: "Bite of the Wasp"|
|Masquerade||Whitney||Episode: "Spying Down to Rio"|
|1989||Hollywood on Horses||Self (presenter)||Video documentary; credited as producer|
|"Red Sails in the Sunset"||57||—|
|"Don't Get Around Much Anymore"||74||—|
|1959||"(I'll Be with You) In Apple Blossom Time"||31||—|
|"There's No Fool Like a Young Fool"||68||—|
- Hamilton, William L. (September 18, 2005). "Did Success Spoil Tab Hunter?". The New York Times. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
- "Tab Hunter, 86, 1950s Hollywood heartthrob, is dead". The New York Times. July 9, 2018. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
- Bergan, Ronald (July 9, 2018). "Tab Hunter obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
- Weinraub, Bernard (September 9, 2003). "A Star's Real Life Upstages His Films; Tab Hunter Looks Back on Sadness and Success and Ahead to a Book". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 38. CN 5585.
- Hunter, Tab (September 8, 2006). Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star. With Eddie Muller. Algonquin. p. 174. ISBN 978-1565128460. Retrieved February 25, 2019 – via Google Books.
- Piccalo, Gina; Saad, Nardine (July 9, 2018). "Actor Tab Hunter dies at 86; '50s heartthrob's career ranged from Battle Cry to Polyester". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
- Feinberg, Scott (March 13, 2015). "SXSW: Tab Hunter opens up about life as a closeted gay star during Hollywood's golden age". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
- Hofler, Robert (2005). The Man who Invented Rock Hudson: The pretty boys and dirty deals of Henry Willson. Carroll & Graf. ISBN 978-0786716074 – via Google Books.
- Hopper, Hedda (February 13, 1955). "A critic's remark and hard work put Tab Hunter on top: Critic and work spur Tab Hunter". Los Angeles Times. p. D1. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
- Scheuer, Philip K. (November 5, 1953). "Drama: Skip homeier returns, Murvyn vye with U-I; MGM rushes POW job". Los Angeles Times. p. B11.
- Hunter 2005, p. 172. sfn error: no target: CITEREFHunter2005 (help)
- Hunter 2005, pp. 116–118. sfn error: no target: CITEREFHunter2005 (help)
- Wolters, Larry (March 17, 1957). "Playhouse 90 – And why it is a great series: Key to success is its young producer". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 78.
- 'Tab Hunter Confidential', pg 193.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 92. ISBN 978-0214204807 – via Google Books.
- 'The Tab Hunter Show', IMDb. Full cast and credits
- "The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore – Broadway Play – 1964 Revival". IBDB.
- "The Fickle Finger of Fate (1966) - Richard Rush | Cast and Crew | AllMovie" – via www.allmovie.com.
- Hunter 2005, p. 297. sfn error: no target: CITEREFHunter2005 (help)
- Raymond, Gerard (October 21, 2015). "Interview with Tab Hunter". Slant. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
- Leydon, Joe (July 9, 2018). "A C&I Conversation with Tab Hunter". Cowboys & Indians.
- McNary, Dave (June 6, 2018). "JJ Abrams, Zachary Quinto Developing Tab Hunter-Anthony Perkins Movie". Variety.
- "Tab Hunter Confidential". IMDb. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
- Feinberg, Scott; Kit, Borys (June 6, 2018). "Tab Hunter, Anthony Perkins forbidden love drama in the works from J.J. Abrams, Zachary Quinto". Exclusive. The Hollywood Reporter.
- "Tab Hunter". Hollywood Star Walk. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
- "Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated". Palmspringswalkofstars.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 13, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
- Parks, Tim (December 15, 2005). "The many lives of Tab Hunter". Gay and Lesbian Times. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
- 'Tab Hunter Confidential', pg 130.
- Hunter, Tab (July 9, 2018). "Exclusive: Tab Hunter Recounts His Relationship With "Psycho" Star Anthony Perkins". Exclusive. Attitude.
- Bayard, Louis (October 9, 2005). "The Celluloid Closet". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 7, 2009.
- Fillo, MaryEllen. "Hollywood's all-American boy Tab Hunter brings his documentary to Warner Theater". Hartford Courant. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
- Lattanzio, Ryan (October 12, 2015). "Tab Hunter, Out of the Hollywood Closet and in His Own Words". IndieWire. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
- TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL Q&A: Does Tab I.D. as Jewish?. October 13, 2015. Event occurs at 0:07.
- Hunter 2005, p. 270. sfn error: no target: CITEREFHunter2005 (help)
- Stolworthy, Jacob (July 9, 2018). "Veteran Hollywood actor Tab Hunter dies aged 86". The Independent. Archived from the original on May 26, 2022. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
- France, Lisa Respers; Chan, Stella (July 11, 2018). "Tab Hunter, iconic 1950s actor, dead at 86". CNN. Retrieved February 25, 2019.