jakeem

Actor Tab Hunter (1931-2018)

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Tab Hunter, who became a film star in the 1950s while living a double life as a closeted homosexual, died Sunday in Santa Barbara, California. He would have observed his 87th birthday on Wednesday.

His longtime partner, producer Allan Glaser, said that Hunter died of cardiac arrest as the result of a blood clot.

Born Arthur Andrew Kelm in New York City, he grew up using his mother's surname, Gelien, after his parents divorced. He received his stage name from the legendary talent agent Henry Willson, who also came up with new names for such promising actors as Roy Scherer (Rock Hudson), Robert Moseley (Guy Madison), Merle Johnson, Jr. (Troy Donahue) and Orison Whipple Hungerford, Jr. (Ty Hardin).

One of Hunter's first noteworthy films was William Wellman's "Track of the Cat," a 1954 drama co-produced by John Wayne. Set on a Northern California ranch in the early 20th-century, the film starred Robert Mitchum as the older brother of the young actor's character.

Hunter became a star in the 1955 World War II film "Battle Cry," which was directed by Raoul Walsh. The movie's all-star cast included Van Heflin, Aldo Ray, James Whitmore, Raymond Massey, Mona Freeman, Nancy Olson, Dorothy Malone and Anne Francis. The picture was a box-office hit for Warner Bros.

As a contract player at Warner Bros., Hunter co-starred with Natalie Wood in the 1956 films "The Burning Hills" and "The Girl He Left Behind." There would have been a third team up if he had been chosen for the role of Tony in the 1961 screen version of "West Side Story," which starred Wood.

Although he didn't consider himself a singing talent, Hunter wound up recording the 1957 hit "Young Love," which was the No. 1 song for six weeks on the Billboard pop chart. It also sold more than a million copies.

A year later, Hunter co-starred with Gwen Verdon and Ray Walston in a Warner Bros. screen version of the hit 1955 Broadway musical "Damn Yankees!" The film adaptation starred Robert Shafer as senior citizen Joe Boyd, a longtime New York Yankees hater. After he made a deal with the Devil (Walston), Boyd became magically transformed into the young slugger Joe Hardy and signed with the lowly Washington Senators of the American League. Verdon -- who played the Devil's alluring assistant Lola -- and Walston both won 1956 Tony Awards for their performances in the stage production.

During the 1960-1961 television season, Hunter starred in a short-lived sitcom in which he played a Malibu-based cartoonist. "The Tab Hunter Show," which co-starred Richard Erdman and Jerome Cowan, aired Sunday nights on NBC.

Hunter starred in more than 40 films, but his career began to fade in the 1960s. He made an impressive comeback in John Waters' offbeat 1981 film "Polyester," which featured Hunter as Todd Tomorrow -- the unlikely love interest of Baltimore-area housewife Francine Fishpaw (played by the female impersonator Divine).

The actors reteamed for Paul Bartel's 1985 Western comedy "Lust in the Dust," which was co-produced by Hunter and Glaser. 

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Hunter co-starred with Divine in two offbeat 1980s comedies

Hunter acknowleged that he was gay in the 2005 autobiography "Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star" -- which was co-written with Eddie Muller. The book was a best seller and prompted the making of the 2015 documentary "Tab Hunter Confidential," directed by Jeffrey Schwarz and produced by Glaser.

It was announced last month that producer/director J.J. Abrams is planning a feature film about the hush-hush relationship between Hunter and fellow actor Anthony Perkins during the 1950s. Actor Zachary Quinto, who announced he was gay in 2011, will serve as a co-producer of the project.

 

Farewell, Tab Hunter. One of the first to live his truth as a gay man in Hollywood, at a time when homophobia ruled supreme.

"I don't care whether people like me or dislike me. I'm not on earth to win a popularity contest. I'm here to be the best human being I possibly can be."

Sad to report that Tab Hunter, the gawjuss gay icon, and true gentleman, has left the building. We shared some good laughs back in the 80’s. I was always fond of this dear man.

so sad to wake up to the news of the passing of tab hunter. i was honored to get to know him in the past year and am so grateful to have experienced his sheer joy and love of life. and… https://www.instagram.com/p/BlAzakaHjuJ/?utm_source=ig_twitter_share&igshid=a9l8n9pa3hs5 

I've never met a movie star lovelier than Tab Hunter, who I got to know very well over the last few years, and who died today. Here are some things you should know about him. RIP. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/race/tab-hunter-opens-up-life-781046 , https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/race/savannah-film-fest-hollywood-legend-835181 , https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/race/tab-hunter-almost-being-outed-812591  & https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/jj-abrams-zachary-quinto-making-film-tab-hunter-anthony-perkins-1117878 .

A FORTUNATE LIFE. That's what I would have called the autobiography I co-wrote with #TabHunter. Our two-year collaboration was a significant chapter in my life and I thank Tab for being an open, generous and gracious "subject" and friend. Your mater was proud of you, pal. RIP.

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Very sad news, I can barely speak, RIP, Mr. Hunter.

You were a courageous soul.

It could not have been easy.

But you survived - beautifully.

Your autobiography and your documentary are testaments to your fortitude.

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Will there be a tribute on TCM? He will definitely be included in late December for the In Memorial evening of programming, probably with GUNMAN'S WALK which the programmers like to show.

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3 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Will there be a tribute on TCM? He will definitely be included in late December for the In Memorial evening of programming, probably with GUNMAN'S WALK which the programmers like to show.

He was an actor, no doubt about it, but his pretty boy image often obliterated that.

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12 minutes ago, rayban said:

He was an actor, no doubt about it, but his pretty boy image often obliterated that.

Notice how all these guys are always linked back to Henry Willson when they die? And it's always about the name Willson gave him, instead of how they defined themselves with their acting careers. 

They'll do the same thing again when John Saxon dies. And he's had an incredibly versatile career with almost 200 acting credits currently listed for him on the IMDb.

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12 minutes ago, cigarjoe said:

Is Dash Riprock still alive?

No. Larry Pennell, the actor who played Dash on episodes of "The Beverly Hillbillies," died in 2013.

Image result for dash riprock

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37 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Will there be a tribute on TCM? He will definitely be included in late December for the In Memorial evening of programming, probably with GUNMAN'S WALK which the programmers like to show.

Has TCM ever shown "Damn Yankees!"?

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32 minutes ago, jakeem said:

Has TCM ever shown "Damn Yankees!"?

TBS, back in the 80’s, used to show musicals on Monday evenings and I think Damn Yankees may have been shown there. 

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1 hour ago, jakeem said:

Has TCM ever shown "Damn Yankees!"?

No, someone complained about the title, so the film is being reissued under the name "Darned Pinstripers."

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Just watched Tab Hunter the other night in a "Playhouse 90" presentation of Portrait of a Murderer with Geraldine Page. He turned in a remarkable LIVE performance. When given the chance, he was a fine actor, but he got stereotyped by the studio bosses.

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2 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Notice how all these guys are always linked back to Henry Willson when they die? And it's always about the name Willson gave him, instead of how they defined themselves with their acting careers. 

They'll do the same thing again when John Saxon dies. And he's had an incredibly versatile career with almost 200 acting credits currently listed for him on the IMDb.

Henry Willson is linked with almost any hot young actor in the '50's.

And, yes, he did re-name a lot of them.

Even Grant Williams was associated with him for a short time.

But he made demands on his clients.

Not every actor was "accomodating".

Rock Hudson can be numbered as one of the many.

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6 minutes ago, rayban said:

Henry Willson is linked with almost any hot young actor in the '50's.

And, yes, he did re-name a lot of them.

Even Grant Williams was associated with him for a short time.

But he made demands on his clients.

Not every actor was "accomodating".

Rock Hudson can be numbered as one of the many.

My problem with it is that any time one of these guys die, it becomes another obituary for Henry Willson. This has happened with all of Cary Grant's wives. When Betsy Drake died, her obituary was not about her or her accomplishments, it was about Cary, basically another obituary for him. When Dyan Cannon dies the same thing will happen again. They will play up the fact she was Cary Grant's wife and the mother of his only child. They will hardly write about her accomplishments. 

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Like so many beautiful young people in the movies in the '50's, he probably only got to show about one-half of his talent on the screen.

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3 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

My problem with it is that any time one of these guys die, it becomes another obituary for Henry Willson. This has happened with all of Cary Grant's wives. When Betsy Drake died, her obituary was not about her or her accomplishments, it was about Cary, basically another obituary for him. When Dyan Cannon dies the same thing will happen again. They will play up the fact she was Cary Grant's wife and the mother of his only child. They will hardly write about her accomplishments. 

This is what happens when the husband is a star, and his wife isn't.

However, the Cary Grant/Betsy Drake story is a very interesting one.

He did try to make her a star.

A TV biopic is waiting.

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8 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

When Dyan Cannon dies the same thing will happen again. They will play up the fact she was Cary Grant's wife and the mother of his only child. They will hardly write about her accomplishments. 

I'm not so sure about that. Cannon is an accomplished actress and a recipient of two Academy Award nominations. I'm sure her longtime support of the Los Angeles Lakers will be mentioned, too.

Image result for dyan cannon los angeles lakers

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1 minute ago, jakeem said:

I'm not so sure about that. Cannon is an accomplished actress and a recipient of two Academy Award nominations. I'm sure her longtime support of the Los Angeles Lakers will be mentioned, too.

I hope you're right.

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Henry Willson would make a fascinating subject for a movie.

But that movie would probably be "too hot to handle".

However, a book has been written about him - "The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson".

And it is "a sizzler".

So many young men learned that the best way to gain entry into the movies (i.e. if you didn't know anyone) was to make yourself "sexually available".

James Dean learned this lesson early on. 

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26 minutes ago, jakeem said:

I'm not so sure about that. Cannon is an accomplished actress and a recipient of two Academy Award nominations. I'm sure her longtime support of the Los Angeles Lakers will be mentioned, too.

She actually has three nominations: the two Supporting Actress ones (for Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, and Heaven can Wait) and another one in 1977 for Best Live-Action Short Film. Don't feel bad for omitting it, though. I didn't know about it, either, until I looked her up to remind me what her acting ones were for.

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2 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

She actually has three nominations: the two Supporting Actress ones (for Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, and Heaven can Wait) and another one in 1977 for Best Live-Action Short Film. Don't feel bad for omitting it, though. I didn't know about it, either, until I looked her up to remind me what her acting ones were for.

For the film "Number One." Totally slipped my mind. This is what happens when you don't touch all of the bases. 

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So sorry to hear this. Such a handsome hunk. I read his memoirs which was a light hearted romp. He kissed and told a little but remained a gentleman. 

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Good-bye Tab. RIP You never took those roles that were given to you, very seriously.He was one of the best players in the uneven THE LOVED ONE (1965).

 

Attention TCM, PLEASE PLAY DAMN YANKEES AS A tribute since it is Warner's film; therefore, you should procure it easily.

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