Written by on July 19, 2018

Story by Chuck Tacket


” John Waters called me up on the telephone and said, ‘How would you feel about kissing a 300-pound Transvestite?’ I’m sure I’ve kissed a lot worse.”

Tab Hunter

1950’s era superstar

      There is this notion that Hollywood is the bastion of Progressivism. That may be true for a sizeable amount of actors and actresses, Not all mind you, but a sizeable amount. Management decision makers, movers, and shakers may want you to think that way, but it is a double standard when it comes to homophobia, racism, and sexism. Actress Jessica Chastain stated it best when she revealed the entertainment industry has a clear disconnect between how we practice what we preach.

For decades, LGBTQ actors and actresses, especially if they are well known, had to lead a double life for fear of retribution from fans and Hollywood management for committing the crime of being authentic. Recently, one of those famous actors passed away from playing his greatest real-life role in Old Hollywood last week. It was 1950’s era heartthrob, beefcake, and boy-next-door actor Tab Hunter.

Tab was born Arthur Galien on July 11th, 1931 in New York City. His mother was a German immigrant. After divorcing her abusive husband, she, along with Tab and his older brother, moved to California.

Growing up, Hunter was extremely shy. Despite being an introvert, Tab sang in the church choir and was a competitive figure skater.

At 15, he confessed to his parish priest about being Gay. The genius shamed him. Hunter lied about his age to join the U.S. Coast Guard. When the military discovered his age, he was discharged.

Tab moved to Los Angeles and he was “discovered” while working as a stable hand. The agent changed his name to Tab Hunter. Hunter made his acting debut in the 1950 western “The Lawless.” In 1952, Tab costarred in the movie, “Island of Desire” with actress Linda Darnell.

Hunter’s career skyrocketed. Being very serious and driven actor, Hunter honed his acting chops in summer stock theatre. It paid off for him. He was chosen for more serious roles and co-starred with Robert Mitchum in “Track of the Cat” and John Wayne in “The Sea Chase.”

During that time, Tab tried his singing chops. The song he recorded, “Young Love” knocked Elvis off the #1 slot on the charts.

Also during that time, Tab was having a secret love affair with actor Tony Perkins who shot to stardom as the character Norman Bates in the original “Psycho.” Hunter was arrested by police when they raided a Gay house party back then known as “pajama parties.” Warner Brothers Studio scuttled the story and had Hunter be seen with actress Natale Wood and French actress Etchikia Choeau publicly.

By the late 1950’s, Hunter had a lead in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical, “Damn Yankees.”

After that film, Tab erroneously was convinced that he could get better acting roles if he bought out his contract with Warner Brother studios. WRONG!! Tab’s career never recovered from that mistake in the 1960’s and most of the 1970’s. Even though he had a co-starring role with Paul Newman in the 1972 film, “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean,” he spent most of the decade doing B movies and the dinner theater circuit to pay the bills. The stress caused Tab to have a heart attack.

John Waters, famous LGBTQ camp director in 1981, approached Hunter with an offer to play drag star Divine’s love interest in his classic comedy, “Polyester.” The movie was a huge success, reviving Tab’s career and gaining him a new generation of fans.

In 1982, Tab was chosen to play a substitute biology teacher in the sequel to “Grease,” “Grease 2”. He was singing in the raunchy and funny musical production in the film called “Reproduction.”

Then in 1985, he co-starred again with Divine in the campy western comedy entitled, “Lust in the Dust.” Tab stated to the Los Angeles Times, “I think from all the leading ladies I had from Geraldine Page to Natalie Wood to Sophia Loren to Rita Hayworth, Divine goes right in there.”

After that movie, Tab withdrew from his public life with his partner, former studio executive Allan Glasser. Hunter spent his time volunteering for the various organizations with paralyzed war veterans and animals.

Tab finally told his story in 2005 autobiography, “Tab Hunter Confidential.” Ten years later in 2015, it was adapted into a documentary.

Tab passed away on July 8th, 2016, at the age of 86, from a heart attack caused by a blood clot in his leg, according to his partner Allan Glasser.

According to Variety, Actor Zachary Quinto, Producer JJ Abrams, Allan Glasser, and Neil Koenigsberg are producing a movie about the secret love affair between Tab Hunter and Tony Perkins. Playwright Doug Wright has been hired to write the screenplay. Quinto is currently on Broadway in the revival of “The Boy in the Band.” JJ Abrams is currently the Executive producer of HBO’s “Westworld.” RIP Tab!!!

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