Hunter was born in New York to Charles Kelm and Gertrude Gelien. His parents were German immigrants - his father Jewish and his mother Lutheran. Hunter's father was an abusive man and within a few years of his birth, his parents divorced and his mother moved with her two sons to California. She reassumed her maiden surname Gelien and changed her sons' name to that as well. As a teenager Hunter was a figure skater, competing in both singles and pairs, and a horseback rider.
He joined the Coast Guard at the age of fifteen, lying about his age to enlist. While in the Coast Guard he gained the nickname "Hollywood" for his penchant for watching movies rather than going to bars while on liberty.
In later years Hunter's mother was institutionalized and underwent shock treatments, and he supported her financially until her death.
Hunter's 2006 autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star became a New York Times best-seller as did the paperback edition in 2007. It is still currently in publication and was nominated for several prestigious writing awards. In the book he acknowledged his homosexuality, confirming rumors that had circulated since the height of his fame. According to William L. Hamilton of The New York Times, detailed reports about his alleged romances with very close friends Debbie Reynolds and Natalie Wood were strictly the fodder of studio publicity departments. As Wood and Hunter embarked on a well-publicized and groundless romance, promoting his apparent heterosexuality while promoting their films, insiders developed their own headline for the item: 'Natalie Wood and Tab Wouldn't'.
Tab Hunter (born Arthur Andrew Kelm; July 11, 1931) is an American actor, singer, former teen idol and author who has starred in over forty major films. Hunter had long-term relationships with actor Anthony Perkins and champion figure skater Ronnie Robertson, before settling down with his partner of more than 30 years, Allan Glaser. Hunter's 2006 autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star became a New York Times best-seller as did the paperback edition in 2007.
Tab Hunter with Anthony Perkins
Tab Hunter with Roddy McDowell
Tab Hunter with Rudolf Nureyev
Hunter did become close enough with Etchika Choureau, his co-star in Lafayette Escadrille, and Joan Cohn, widow of Harry Cohn, to contemplate marriage, but thought he never could maintain a marriage and remained merely platonic friends with both women.
During Hollywood's studio era, Hunter says, life "was difficult for me, because I was living two lives at that time. A private life of my own, which I never discussed, never talked about to anyone. And then my Hollywood life, which was just trying to learn my craft and succeed..." The star emphasizes that the word 'gay' "wasn't even around in those days, and if anyone ever confronted me with it, I'd just kinda freak out. I was in total denial. I was just not comfortable in that Hollywood scene, other than the work process." "There was a lot written about my sexuality, and the press was pretty darn cruel," the actor says, but what "moviegoers wanted to hold in their hearts were the boy-next-door marines, cowboys and swoon-bait sweethearts I portrayed."
Hunter had long-term relationships with actor Anthony Perkins and champion figure skater Ronnie Robertson, before settling down with his partner of 30 years, Allan Glaser.
Hunter has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6320 Hollywood Blvd.
Physique Pictorial promoted another nonconformist homosexual image that became a prototype for American men. This was the image of the muscled, handsome, sexually active man who—although not the effeminate homosexual—was softer-looking and less aggressively masculine than the traditional male image. Postwar American men—vulnerable, and comfortable with being sexual objects—appreciated the rebel image, but could relate more to this softer, sexy masculine image. Actors such as Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Troy Donahue, Guy Madison, George Nader, Tom Tryon, and Rory Calhoun embodied this new image: sexy but romantic, masculine but approachable.Further Readings:
As much as bias against homosexuals existed, the cultural obsession with homosexuality increasingly blurred the line between heterosexual and homosexual. The buff, approachable, sexually vulnerable young Hollywood male actor often appeared shirtless and in revealing positions in publicity shots and fan magazines. Often the only difference between these photographs and those in Physique Pictorial was the context. The December 1953 issue of Tomorrow’s Man included an eight-page feature on Tab Hunter at home on his ranch, where “he leads an athletic life to keep in shape for the rigors of theatrical life.” Illustrated with twelve posed beefcake photos, ten of them shirtless, the article claimed that Hunter’s “single greatest asset is his resemblance to the down-to-earth, wholesome, ‘red blooded American boy.’” With no mention of dating or girlfriends, Hunter’s image as an emerging big star was shockingly ambiguous. --Bronski, Michael (2011-05-10). A Queer History of the United States (Revisioning American History). Beacon Press. Kindle Edition
Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Books (September 8, 2006)
Amazon: Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star
Art Gelien was just a kid when an agent asked him if he wanted to be in movies. Blessed with extraordinary good looks and enough smarts to know that he had a lot to learn, that kid said yes. Rechristened Tab Hunter, he was launched on a journey that carried him to stardom. First he became a pin-up favorite of teenage girls worldwide and then a number one box-office star; then he recorded a song called “Young Love” that knocked Elvis Presley off the top of the charts—and all the time he had to keep secret the fact that he was gay.
In Tab Hunter Confidential, written with Eddie Muller, Hunter looks back on a life lived without apologies and a career that soared, then crashed, and then later—thanks to popular cult-film auteur John Waters—enjoyed a revival. It is a true Hollywood story, told with humor and insight.
Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969 by William J. Mann
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books (October 1, 2002)
Amazon: Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969
Whether in or out of the closet, gays and lesbians played an essential role in shaping studio-era Hollywood. Gay actors (J. Warren Kerrigan, Marlene Dietrich, Rock Hudson), gay directors (George Cukor, James Whale, Dorothy Arzner), and gay set and costume designers (Adrian, Travis Banton, George James Hopkins) have been among the most influential individuals in Hollywood history and literally created the Hollywood mystique. This landmark study-based on seven years of exacting research and including unpublished memoirs, personal correspondence, oral histories, and scrapbooks-explores the experience of Hollywood's gays in the context of their times. Ranging from Hollywood's working conditions to the rowdy character of Los Angeles's gay underground, William J. Mann brings long overdue attention to every aspect of this powerful creative force.
More Real Life Romances at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance
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