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Tab Hunter

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Occupation  Actor, singer, writer
Height  1.82 m
Role  Actor ·

Name  Tab Hunter
Years active  1950–present
Partner  Allan Glaser (1983–)
Tab Hunter Tab Hunter Confidential

Full Name  Arthur Andrew Kelm
Born  July 11, 1931 (age 84) (1931-07-11) New York City, United States
Movies and TV shows  Polyester, Damn Yankees, Lust in the Dust, The Burning Hills, Gunman's Walk

Tab hunter on the documentary about his life bfi flare

Tab Hunter (born Arthur Andrew Kelm; July 11, 1931) is an American actor, pop singer and author. He has starred in over 40 films and is probably best known as a Hollywood star of the 1950s and 1960s.


Tab Hunter Tab Hunter Confidential WUNC

Tab Hunter's Career & Double Life

Early life

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Hunter was born in New York City, the son of Gertrude (née Gelien) and Charles Kelm. His mother, from Hamburg, 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, living in San Francisco, Long Beach and Los Angeles. 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.

Tab Hunter Tab HunterAnnex

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.

Tab Hunter Tab Hunter Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

He left the Coast Guard and met Dick Clayton socially. Clayton suggested that Hunter become an actor.


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Clayton introduced Hunter to agent, Henry Willson, who specialised in "pretty boy" stars such as Guy Madison and Robert Wagner. It was Willson who named him "Tab Hunter".

Hunter's first film role was in a film noir, The Lawless (1950). It was a minor part. He was promoted to the lead for his next, Island of Desire (1952) opposite Linda Darnell and directed by Stuart Heisler. The film was essentially a two hander between Hunter and Darnell; it was a hit .

He supported George Montgomery in a Western for producer Edward Small, Gun Belt (1953). Small used him again for a war film, The Steel Lady (1953) supporting Rod Cameron and an adventure tale, Return to Treasure Island (1954), playing the lead.

He began acting on stage, appearing in a production of Our Town. He was offered a contract at Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

One of Hunter's first films for Warners 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 Wellman looking for someone to play the younger brother of Robert Mitchum in Track of the Cat (1955). 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. 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 Hunter's 1950 arrest for disorderly conduct. 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 his more prominent client Rock Hudson's sexual orientation to the public. Not only did this have 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 of the actors placed under exclusive studio contract to Warner Bros. Warners decided to promote him to star status, teaming him with Natalie Wood in two back-to-back 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 and Warners planned a third teaming of Hunter and Wood. Hunter rejected the third picture, thus ending Warner's attempt to make Tab and Natalie the William Powell and Myrna Loy of the 1950s. Hunter was Warner Bros.' most popular male star from 1955-1959.

Music career

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 over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. He also had the hit, "Ninety-Nine Ways," which peaked at No. 11 in the US and No. 5 in the UK. 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 acting career was also at its zenith. William Wellman used him again in a war film, Lafayette Escadrille (1958). Columbia Pictures borrowed him for a Western, Gunman's Walk (1958), a film that Hunter considers his favorite role.

Hunter starred in the 1958 musical film Damn Yankees, in which he played Joe Hardy of Washington, D.C.'s American League baseball club. The film had originally been a Broadway show, but Hunter was the only one in the film version who had not appeared in the original cast. The show was based on the 1954 best-selling book The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant by Douglass Wallop. Hunter later said the filming was hellish because director George Abbott was only interested in recreating the stage version word for word.

He also starred in a prestige production, They Came to Cordura (1959), with Gary Cooper and Rita Hayworth. Sidney Lumet starred him opposite Sophia Loren in That Kind of Woman (1959).

The Tab Hunter Show

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 one season, (36 episodes) 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 starring role as Debbie Reynolds's love interest in The Pleasure of His Company (1961).

He played the lead in a swashbuckler shot in Italy, 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 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, where he acted in spaghetti westerns, 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 Curtis Hanson. He won a co-starring role in the successful fiim 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) with Kim Basinger.


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 (1982), 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).

A 2015 documentary about his life, Tab Hunter Confidential, was directed by Jeffrey Schwarz and produced by Hunter's partner Allan Glaser. A feature film on Hunter's life is currently in development with Bad Robot/ J.J. Abrams.

Personal life

Hunter's autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star (2005), 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.

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 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.

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 had long-term relationships with actor Anthony Perkins and champion figure skater Ronnie Robertson, before settling down with his partner of over 30 years, film producer Allan Glaser.

Hunter has a star for his contributions to the music industry on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6320 Hollywood Blvd. In 2007, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.


Tab Hunter Wikipedia