TAB HUNTER 1931-2018
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.