Actor & Singer
b. July 11, 1931
d. July 8, 2018
“In life we have to be contributors. It’s very, very important. And I look up there and I think I’ve contributed.”
Tab Hunter was an American actor and singer. A star during Hollywood’s Golden Age, he was officially Warner Bros. most popular actor from 1955 to 1959. He appeared in more than 40 films.
Hunter was born Arthur Gelien in New York City and grew up in California. He figure skated competitively from childhood into his early teens. At 15 he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard but was discharged when the military discovered his true age.
While still a teenager, the handsome blue-eyed blonde turned to acting. He signed with an agent and was given the stage name Tab Hunter.
Dubbed the “Sigh Guy,” Hunter became a 1950s teen heartthrob. He made his Hollywood debut with a minor role in the 1950 film “The Lawless.” Thereafter, Warner Bros. Pictures offered him a contract. One of his first movies was the 1955 box office hit “The Sea Chase,” starring John Wayne and Lana Turner. The same year, Hunter secured his breakthrough role as Danny, the young Marine in the hit World War II drama “Battle Cry.”
Hunter’s most popular motion pictures included the Academy Award-nominated musical “Damn Yankees!” (1958), “Gunman’s Walk” (1958), “The Pleasure of His Company” (1961), and “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean” (1972).
With the emergence of rock and roll, Hunter became a well-known singer. His 1957 record, “Young Love,” rose to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts and remained at No. 1 for six weeks. The movie studio established Warner Bros. Records specifically to support him.
In 1960 Hunter had his own television series. Although it lasted only one season, he went on to act in more than 200 TV shows and was nominated for an Emmy for his performance in an episode of “Playhouse 90.” In the 1980s, he appeared in “Grease 2” and the John Waters cult classic “Polyester.”
Hunter came out in his 2005 autobiography, “Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star,” after years of public speculation about his sexuality. The memoir became a New York Times best seller in 2007 and again in 2015 when a documentary film based on the book was released.
Hunter received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. From 1982 until his death, Hunter lived with his partner, Allan Glaser, a Hollywood producer. Glaser produced the documentary based on Hunter’s memoir.
Book: Hunter, Tab with Muller, Eddie. Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2005.