Tab Hunter (born Arthur Andrew Kelm; July 11, 1931) is an American actor, singer, and author who has starred in over 40 films.
Hunter was born in New York City, the son of Gertrude (Gelien) and Charles Kelm. His mother was a German (Catholic) immigrant, and his father was Jewish. Hunter's father was an abusive man and within a few years of his birth, his parents divorced and his mother moved with her two sons to California. She reassumed her maiden surname Gelien and changed her sons' name to that, as well. As a teenager, Hunter was a figure skater, competing in both singles and pairs.
He joined the U.S. Coast Guard at the age of 15, 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.
Arthur Gelien was given the stage name "Tab Hunter" by his first agent, Henry Willson. His good looks landed him a role in the film Island of Desire opposite Linda Darnell. However, his co-starring role as young Marine Danny in 1955's World War II drama Battle Cry, in which he has an affair with an older woman, but ends up marrying the girl next door, cemented his position as one of Hollywood's top young romantic leads. His other hit films include The Burning Hills with Natalie Wood, That Kind of Woman with Sophia Loren, Gunman's Walk with Van Heflin, and The Pleasure of His Company with Debbie Reynolds. He went on to star in over 40 major films and became a cult star in the 1980s appearing in Lust in the Dust, Polyester, and Grease 2.
In September 1955, the tabloid magazine
- Tab Hunter official website
- Tab Hunter at the Internet Movie Database
- at the Internet Broadway Database
- Tab Hunter fansite
- 2009 Half-Hour TV Interview on The Creative Community
- Tab Hunter interview, October, 2015
- The Lawless (1950)
- Island of Desire (aka Saturday Island) (1952)
- Gun Belt (1953)
- The Steel Lady (1953)
- Return to Treasure Island (1954)
- Track of the Cat (1954)
- Battle Cry (1955)
- The Sea Chase (1955)
- The Burning Hills (1956)
- The Girl He Left Behind (1956)
- Lafayette Escadrille (1958)
- Gunman's Walk (1958)
- Damn Yankees (1958)
- They Came to Cordura (1959)
- That Kind of Woman (1959)
- The Tab Hunter Show (TV series 1960-1961)
- The Pleasure of His Company (1961)
- The Golden Arrow (1962)
- Operation Bikini (1963)
- Man with Two Faces (1964)
- Ride the Wild Surf (1964)
- War-Gods of the Deep (1965)
- The Loved One (1965)
- Birds Do It (1966)
- The Fickle Finger of Fate (1967)
- Hostile Guns (1967)
- Vengeance Is My Forgiveness (1968)
- The Last Chance (1968)
- The Legion of No Return (1969)
- The Arousers (1970)
- The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)
- Sweet Kill (1973)
- Timber Tramps (1975)
- Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976)
- McMillan and Wife (1976 episode "Greed")
- The Kid From Left Field (1979)
- Polyester (1981)
- Pandemonium (1982)
- Grease 2 (1982)
- The Fall Guy (1983 episode "P.S I Love You" and 1984 episode "Bite of the Wasp")
- Lust in the Dust (1985)
- Grotesque (1988)
- Cameron's Closet (1989)
- Out of the Dark (1989)
- Dark Horse (1992)
- Wild Bill (1996)
- Tab Hunter Confidential (2015)
|"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||—|
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 became close enough with Etchika Choureau, his co-star in Lafayette Escadrille, and Joan Perry, widow of Harry Cohn, to contemplate marriage, but he thought he never could maintain a marriage, and remained merely platonic friends with both women.
In the book, he acknowledged that he is gay, confirming rumors that had circulated since the height of his fame. 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, were strictly the fodder of studio publicity departments. As Wood and Hunter embarked on a well-publicized but fictitious romance, promoting his apparent heterosexuality while promoting their films, insiders developed their own headline for the item: "Natalie Wood and Tab Wouldn't."
Hunter's autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star (2006), co-written with Eddie Muller, became a New York Times best-seller as did the paperback edition in 2007. The book is still currently in publication and was nominated for several writing awards. It re-entered the New York Times Best Seller list on June 28, 2015 during the release of the documentary film based on the book.
A 2015 documentary about his life, Tab Hunter Confidential, was directed by Jeffrey Schwarz and produced by Hunter's partner Allan Glaser.
For a short time in the late 1960s, Hunter settled in the south of France, where he acted in spaghetti westerns. His 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 is particularly remembered by later audiences as Mr. Stewart, the substitute teacher in Grease 2, who sang "Reproduction." Hunter had a major role in the 1988 horror film Cameron's Closet. He also wrote and starred in Dark Horse (1992).
Hunter starred in the 1958 musical film West Side Story prompted him to agree to star in a weekly television sitcom. On July 9, 1960, prior to the program's debut, he was arrested by Glendale, California police for allegedly beating his dog Fritz. His 11-day trial started in mid-October, a month after The Tab Hunter Show debuted on Sunday evenings on NBC. The neighbor who initiated the charges had done so for spite when Hunter declined her repeated invitations to dinner, and he was acquitted by the jury. The Tab Hunter Show had moderate ratings (due to being scheduled opposite The Ed Sullivan Show) and was hence canceled after one season, but it was a huge hit in the United Kingdom, where it ranked as one of the top situation comedies of the year.
Hunter had a 1957 hit record with the song "Young Love," which was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six weeks and became one of the larger hits of the Rock n' Roll era. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. He also had the hit "Ninety-Nine Ways," which peaked at #11. 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.
, and Natalie Wood were the last of the actors placed under exclusive studio contract to Warner Bros. James Dean In 1956, he received 62,000 Valentines. Hunter,