1950s Teen Heartthrob, Gay Icon Tab Hunter Dies At 86

Actor Tab Hunter arrives at The Hollywood Reporter's Academy Awards Nominees Night at Spago on Monday

Actor Tab Hunter arrives at The Hollywood Reporter's Academy Awards Nominees Night at Spago on Monday

"Tab passed away tonight three days shy of his 87th birthday", Hunter's Facebook page announced. Most notably Hunter started opposite John Wayne in The Sea Chase, was the lead in Battle Cry, and starring role in the 1958 musical film Damn Yankees.

Hunter confirmed he was gay in his 2005 autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star.

Hunter appeared in television shows such as his own sitcom The Tab Hunter Show which lasted for one season, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Forever Fernwood, The Virginian, The Six Million Dollar Man, Ellery Queen, and The Love Boat.

The actor, best known as a 50's pin-up boy, died on the weekend after collapsing at home.

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Hunter starred in two 1956 films with Natalie Wood where the press ran numerous stories about the rumored love affair.

While posters of Mr. Hunter were pasted in the bedrooms of teenage girls across America, he maintained closeted relationships with men such as "Psycho" star Anthony Perkins, at a time when performers were forced to keep their sexuality secret for fear of losing their careers and livelihoods. Glaser also shared with THR that Hunter's passing was "unexpected and sudden".

Born Arthur Andrew Kelm in 1931, Hunter broke into movies in the 1950 film noir The Lawless after a spell in the coastguard as a teenager: he was given his screen alias by agent Henry Willson, who specialised in the pretty-boy "beefcake" stars of the time, such as Rock Hudson, Chad Everett, and Troy Donahue. In addition to his hit movies, his recording of "Young Love" topped the Billboard pop chart in 1957. J.J. Abrams, Hunter's husband and producing partner Allan Glaser and Neil Koenigsberg are working on on a movie about the star for Paramount titled Hunter, with Zachary Quinto set to star.

"I believed, wholeheartedly - still do - that a person's happiness depends on being true to themselves", he wrote. His vocal abilities and film success led to his being cast as Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees; Mr. Hunter is the only principal player in the film that did not originate his role in the original Broadway cast. You can check out more social media tributes to Hunter for yourself below. "We'll call you Tab Hunter". And this guy said, 'Turn around Tab, this is for the next issue of Confidential magazine.' I went, 'Oh God!' and turned away. "And I look up there and I think I've contributed", Hunter told The Hollywood Reporter.

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