TAB HUNTER 1931-2018

WHO - - Passages -

Able to ac­com­mo­date the de­mands of the Hol­ly­wood stu­dio sys­tem with­out sac­ri­fic­ing his sense of self, Tab Hunter be­gan as a con­ven­tional heart­throb—the blond, un­blem­ished star of Damn Yan­kees! (1958)—and ended as an openly gay man who could look back on it all with dig­nity and amused de­tach­ment. If au­di­ences in the 1950s be­lieved ru­mours he and stars like Natalie Wood were an item—“peo­ple ate that up like a hot fudge sun­dae at the cor­ner drug­store,” he later said—his lover away from the cam­eras was ac­tor An­thony Perkins. But Hunter played along: “When you’re un­der con­tract to a stu­dio,” he told WHO in 2005, “your job is to do as they say.” Said Har­vey Fier­stein on Twit­ter, he was a “gawjuss gay icon.”

Born Art Gelien, Hunter (c. 1955), died at 86 in Santa Bar­bara of a blood clot that caused a heart at­tack. He is sur­vived by his part­ner of more than 30 years, Al­lan Glaser.

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