Tab Hunter


Actor
Tab Hunter

About

Also Known As
Arthur Andrew Kelm, Arthur Andrew Gelien
Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
July 11, 1931

Biography

Tab Hunter parlayed his all-American blond good looks and wholesomeness into screen stardom, becoming an idol for 1950s teenagers who adored his boy-next-door persona and physique. He was cast in Joseph Losey's "The Lawless" (1950), despite having no previous acting experience, and earned his first starring role in 1952's "Island of Desire" opposite Linda Darnell. He went on to play the ...

Notes

While Hunter was under contract to Warner Bros., Jack Warner's influence won him the part of Joe Hardy in 'Damn Yankees', much to the consternation of George Abbott who had championed the role's originator, Stephen Douglass. "I felt like an outsider. To make matters worse, there was a musician's strike, so everyone sang to their own recordings, but I had to sing to Stephen Douglass' singing."Hunter doesn't miss the film industry, but he does say there was something special about the bygone days of the studio system. "It was wonderful. They pushed people in those days. Jack Warner was supportive of the people he had under contract. If Warner said you were starting a new film, that was your job and you had to be there. Those kind of people are gone. Now the conglomerates rule the industry."---Tab Hunter in Variety, July 18-24, 1994.

"I was doing a scene with Sophia Loren, and Sidney Lumet said, "Tab, you're playing it safe. If you're going to play it safe, stay in bed all day long. It's the safest place to be." And I said, "Sidney, I will never forget that."---Tab Hunter quoted to Los Angeles Magazine, November 2004.

Biography

Tab Hunter parlayed his all-American blond good looks and wholesomeness into screen stardom, becoming an idol for 1950s teenagers who adored his boy-next-door persona and physique. He was cast in Joseph Losey's "The Lawless" (1950), despite having no previous acting experience, and earned his first starring role in 1952's "Island of Desire" opposite Linda Darnell. He went on to play the ingénue for the likes of Raoul Walsh ("Battle Cry," 1955), William Wellman ("Lafayette Escadrille," aka "Hellbent for Glory," 1958) and Sidney Lumet ("That Kind of Woman," 1959). He also launched a recording career, and had a hit record in 1957 with the song "Young Love," which appeared at #1 on the Billboard charts for six straight weeks and sold over one million copies. Hunter appeared in "Gunman's Walk" (1958), as well as performed the song "I'm a Runaway" in the film. Later that year he delivered his memorable portrayal of long-suffering Washington Senators fan Joe Hardy in George Abbott and Stanley Donen's Faustian musical, "Damn Yankees," and appeared opposite Geraldine Page in the Emmy-nominated "Portrait of a Murderer" installment of "Playhouse 90." In the 1960s, he starred in pictures such as "Operation Bikini" (1963) and "Ride the Wild Surf" (1964), and appeared in Tony Richardson's "The Loved One" (1965). During this time, he also starred in his own series on NBC, and, in 1964, performed on Broadway opposite Tallulah Bankhead in the Tennessee Williams play "The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore." Hunter returned to the big screen in the 1970s with John Huston's "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean" (1972), then attempted to reinvent himself in parts satirizing his popular image, including a role in the showbiz satire "Won Ton Ton, The Dog Who Saved Hollywood" (1978) and "Grease 2" (1982). Perhaps his finest performance was as the lonely Venice Beach psychopath of Curtis Hanson's directing debut, "The Arousers" (1973), but he also acted in three movies with Divine, most notably John Waters' "Polyester" (1981). Hunter produced Paul Bartel's Western spoof "Lust in the Dust" (1984), as well as starred opposite Divine, and picked up a story credit for David Hemmings' "Dark Horse" (1992). In later years, he was often featured as an interview subject in documentaries about Hollywood figures, including "Wild Bill, Hollywood Maverick: The Life and Times of William A. Wellman" (1995) and "I Am Divine" (2013), and on TV in "Sophia Loren: Actress Italian Style" (A&E, 1997) and "Natalie Wood: The E! True Hollywood Story" (1997). In 2005, Hunter released his autobiography, "Tab Hunter Confidential," which became a New York Times bestseller. The book was the basis for a documentary film in 2015, produced by Allan Glaser and directed by Jeffrey Schwarz, which premiered at the South by Southwest festival and subsequently played at a number of other festivals and screenings, and received a theatrical release in October of that year. Both the book and film dealt extensively with Hunter's status as a deeply closeted gay man in a period of extreme homophobia in American culture. Tab Hunter died of a heart attack caused by deep vein thrombosis on July 8, 2018, He was 86.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Tab Hunter Confidential (2015)
Himself
Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick (1995)
Himself
Dark Horse (1992)
Grotesque (1990)
Rod
Out of the Dark (1989)
Cameron's Closet (1988)
Owen Lansing
Lust In The Dust (1984)
Abel Wood
Grease 2 (1982)
Pandemonium (1982)
Polyester (1981)
Todd Tomorrow
The Kid from Left Field (1979)
Bill Lorant
Katie: Portrait of Centerfold (1978)
Timber Tramps (1975)
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)
Sam Dodd
Sweet Kill (1972)
Eddie [Collins]
The Arousers (1970)
The Fickle Finger of Fate (1967)
Jerry Parker
Hostile Guns (1967)
Mike Reno
Birds Do It (1966)
Lieutenant Porter
The Loved One (1965)
Guide
The Golden Arrow (1964)
Hassan
Ride the Wild Surf (1964)
Steamer Lane
Operation Bikini (1963)
Lieut. Morgan Hayes
The Pleasure of His Company (1961)
Roger Henderson
They Came to Cordura (1959)
Lt. William Fowler
That Kind of Woman (1959)
Red
Gunman's Walk (1958)
Editor Hackett
Lafayette Escadrille (1958)
Thad Walker
Damn Yankees (1958)
Joe Hardy
The Burning Hills (1956)
Trace Jordan
The Girl He Left Behind (1956)
Andy Sheaffer
Battle Cry (1955)
Danny Forrester
The Sea Chase (1955)
Cadet Wesser
Return to Treasure Island (1954)
Clive Stone
Track of the Cat (1954)
Harold "Hal" Bridges
The Steel Lady (1953)
Billy Larsen
Gun Belt (1953)
Chip [Ringo]
Island of Desire (1952)
Corp. Michael J. "Chicken" Dugan
The Lawless (1950)
Frank O'Brien

Writer (Feature Film)

Dark Horse (1992)
From Story

Producer (Feature Film)

Lust In The Dust (1984)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Ravenous (1999)
Guitar/Jews Harp
Losin' It (1983)
Song Performer
Polyester (1981)
Song Performer ("Polyester")

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick (1995)
Other

Cast (Special)

Elvis Forever (2002)
Interviewee
Divine: The E! True Hollywood Story (1999)
Interviewee
Bob Fosse: The E! True Hollywood Story (1999)
Interviewee
Natalie Wood: The E! True Hollywood Story (1997)
Sophia Loren: Actress Italian Style (1997)
Ballyhoo: The Hollywood Sideshow! (1996)
National Off-The-Wall People's Poll (1984)
Circus of the Stars (1981)
Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes (1977)
Male Team Member
The Connie Francis Show (1961)
Guest
Merman on Broadway (1959)
Guest
Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates (1958)
Hans Brinker

Life Events

1950

Made feature film debut at age 18 in Joseph Losey's "Lawless" despite no previous acting experience

1953

First of back-to-back movies with director E A Dupont, "The Steel Lady" followed by "Return to Treasure Island" (1954)

1954

First film with director William Wellman, "Track of the Cat"

1955

Played wholesome soldier in Raoul Walsh's World War II pic "Battle Cry"

1955

Supported John Wayne and Lana Turner as fresh-faced Cadet Wesser in John Farrow's "The Sea Chase"

1956

Starred opposite Natalie Wood in two movies, "The Burning Hills" and "The Girl He Left Behind"

1958

Acted the title role in "Hallmark Hall of Fame" production of "Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates" (NBC)

1958

Reteamed with Wellman for "Hell Bent for Glory"

1958

Delivered a memorable turn as Joe Hardy in George Abbott and Stanley Donen's Faustian tale "Damn Yankees," based on the stage musical; performed the songs "Goodbye Old Girl" and "Two Lost Souls"

1958

First credit as song performer, "I'm a Runaway" for "Gunman's Walk"

1959

Played young soldier in love with Sophia Loren in Sidney Lumet's "That Kind of Woman"

1959

Starred in CBS special "Meet Me in St Louis" with Jane Powell, Walter Pidgeon, and Myrna Loy

1960

Starred as swinging young bachelor Paul Morgan on NBC sitcom "The Tab Hunter Show"

1961

Fit the part as Debbie Reynolds' fiancé in "The Pleasure of His Company," based on the Broadway play

1963

Acted opposite Frankie Avalon in "Operation Bikini"

1964

Fabian replaced Avalon for "Ride the Wild Surf"

1965

Appeared in Tony Richardson's "The Loved One," based on the Evelyn Waugh novel

1972

Provided humorous caricature for John Huston's "The Life and times of Judge Roy Bean"

1973

Turned in topnotch performance as lonely Venice Beach psychopath in Curtis Hanson's directing debut "The Arousers"

1977

Replaced Philip Bruns as George Shumway in "Forever Fernwood," the successor to the syndicated soap spoof "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman"; plastic surgery was the explanation for the character's radically changed looks

1978

Reteamed with Fabian for NBC movie "Katie: Portrait of a Centerfold"

1979

Acted in NBC remake of 1953 film starring Dan Dailey and Anne Bancroft "The Kid From Left Field" opposite Gary Coleman in his TV movie debut

1981

First film with Divine, John Waters' "Polyester"

1982

Appeared in the musical sequel "Grease 2"

1983

Reteamed with Hanson as song performer ("Young Love") for "Losin' It"

1984

Producing debut, Paul Bartel's "Lust in the Dust"; second time acting with Divine

1989

Last film with Divine, Michael Schroeder's "Out of the Dark"; played small bit as taxi driver

1992

Received story credit on David Hemmings' "Dark Horse"; also acted and produced

1995

Appeared as himself in "Wild Bill, Hollywood Maverick: The Life and Times of William A Wellman"

1997

Interviewed for A&E biography "Sophia Loren: Actress Italian Style"

1998

Narrated the documentary "The Best of Hollywood"

2006

Released best-selling autobiography <i>Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star</i>

Photo Collections

Girl He Left Behind (1956) - Final Draft Screenplay
This is a 'Final" draft version screenplay for the 1956 WB title "The Girl He Left Behind" starring Tab Hunter. This screenplay contains some colored pages indicating that there were likely last minute changes, and that this version may still deviate slightly from the finished film.

Videos

Movie Clip

Gunman's Walk (1958) - Yes, Big Brother Handsome opening by director Phil Karlson, photographed by Charles “Buddy” Lawton, introducing James Darren as voluble Davy, and avid horseman Tab Hunter as elder brother Ed, taciturn by comparison, and whistling, in the Columbia Technicolor Western, from a story by Ric Hardman and screenplay by Frank Nugent, Gunman’s Walk, 1958, starring Van Heflin.
Lafayette Escadrille (1958) - In Good Company Clint Eastwood's first scene, as the Yanks (David Janssen, Jody McCrea, Tab Hunter, William Wellman Jr., as his dad) spend their first night in France, the de facto honor roll being much of the point for narrator, director and producer William A. Wellman, in Lafayette Escadrille, 1958.
Lafayette Escadrille (1958) - He's Forgotten You Exist Just arrived in 1914 France, American volunteer fliers (William Wellman Jr., Jody McCrea, David Janssen and especially Tab Hunter as "Thad") notice Renee' (Etchika Choreau) and other locals, early in director William A. Wellman's Lafayette Escadrille, 1958.
Lafayette Escadrille (1958) - Got Ya' Scared, Princeton? American hijinks on the French airfield, David Janssen leads the jokers and the last bit baseball, with "Billy Jack" (Tom Laughlin) pitching to "Dirty Harry" (Clint Eastwood), in producer-director William A. Wellman's tribute to the World War One flying corps, Lafayette Escadrille, 1958.
Tab Hunter Confidential (2015) - Take The Pretty Boys Tab Hunter, with commentary from friends and fellow actors Darryl Hickman, Don Murray and Robert Wagner, on how he met his first agent, Henry Wilson, got his screen name, and his first starring role, in the acclaimed documentary Tab Hunter Confidential, 2015.
Tab Hunter Confidential (2015) - Open, I'm An Old Man Opening the award-winning documentary by Jeffrey Schwarz and Allan Glaser, from 2015, Tab Hunter Confidential, about the long-closeted Hollywood matinee idol, who passed away in 2018 at the age of 86.
Gunman's Walk (1958) - Put That Gun Away! Rebellious son Ed Hackett (accomplished rider Tab Hunter, in the saddle) has been challenged by his prominent rancher father Lee (Van Heflin) to see who can get to the saloon quicker, leading to stunts then a confrontation in the barroom, Paul Bryar the bartender, Ray Teal the observant stranger, in director Phil Karlson’s Gunman’s Walk, 1958.
Gunman's Walk (1958) - Habit Is A Strong Thing Van Heflin as titanic rancher father Lee Hackett is angry with son Davy (James Darren), for being unwilling to wear his gun, and shooting poorly when he does, offering instruction when they’re joined by more dangerous brother Ed (Tab Hunter), in a striking bit of Western macho family dynamics, in Gunman’s Walk, 1958, from a Rick Hardman story and Frank Nugent screenplay.
Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean (1972) - Fate Of The Wicked The full performance of Tab Hunter as unrepentant murderous drifter Dodd, addressing the camera in the same manner as other famous-actor-cameo characters, processed quickly by Paul Newman as the title character, bogus judge in 1890’s West Texas, Jim Burk, Matt Clark, Bill McKinney, Ned Beatty and Steve Kanaly the new deputies, in John Huston’s The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean, 1972.
Burning Hills, The (1956) - You Dirty Gringos! Vengeful Trace (Tab Hunter) is observing a gang led by nasty ranch hand Mort (Earl Holliman) but plays it cool as they harass Chicana Maria Cristina (Natalie Wood) outside the bar, in The Burning Hills, 1956.
Burning Hills, The (1956) - My Mother Was Mexican Feel the heat, maybe, as Maria Cristina (Natalie Wood) helps righteous fugitive Trace (Tab Hunter) in The Burning Hills, 1956, from a Louis L'Amour novel.
Ride The Wild Surf (1964) - The Clambake Always Starts Narrated exposition and hunks galore, as Fabian, Tab Hunter and future soap-opera star Peter Brown arrive in Hawaii in the somewhat less fluffy than average surfer feature Ride The Wild Surf, 1964, with Shelly Fabares, Barbara Eden, Susan Hart and one Brian Wilson song.

Trailer

That Kind Of Woman (1959) -- Original Trailer Theatrical trailer for the unsuccessful but ambitious racy semi-comedy, starring Sophia Loren, produced by her husband Carlo Ponti, directed by Sidney Lumet, with teen heart-throb Tab Hunter as the leading man, That Kind Of Woman 1959.
Gunman's Walk - (Original Trailer) A rancher's rebellious son tries to teach him that violence is no longer an answer in Gunman's Walk (1958).
Golden Arrow, The (1964) - Original Trailer Tab Hunter is the son of a sultan who has to save Damascus by getting his hands on The Golden Arrow (1964).
Sea Chase, The - (Original Trailer) A German freighter captain (John Wayne) tries to elude the British in the early days of World War II in The Sea Chase (1955).
Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, The - (Original Trailer) Paul Newman stars as the Law West of the Pecos in John Huston's The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972).
Loved One, The - (Original Trailer) Robert Morse heads an all-star cast in the bizarre comedy The Loved One (1965) based on a novel by Evelyn Waugh.
Track Of The Cat - (Original Trailer) A panther haunts a dysfunctional pioneer family in Track of the Cat (1954) starring Robert Mitchum.
Battle Cry - (Original Trailer) A group of Marines eagerly await deployment during World War II in Battle Cry (1955).
Return to Treasure Island - (Original Trailer) A student (Tab Hunter) vies with crooks for buried treasure in Return to Treasure Island (1954).
Ride the Wild Surf - (Original Trailer) Three young surfers travel to Hawaii in search of love and the perfect wave in Ride the Wild Surf (1964) featuring the surf photography of Joseph Biroc.

Bibliography

Notes

While Hunter was under contract to Warner Bros., Jack Warner's influence won him the part of Joe Hardy in 'Damn Yankees', much to the consternation of George Abbott who had championed the role's originator, Stephen Douglass. "I felt like an outsider. To make matters worse, there was a musician's strike, so everyone sang to their own recordings, but I had to sing to Stephen Douglass' singing."Hunter doesn't miss the film industry, but he does say there was something special about the bygone days of the studio system. "It was wonderful. They pushed people in those days. Jack Warner was supportive of the people he had under contract. If Warner said you were starting a new film, that was your job and you had to be there. Those kind of people are gone. Now the conglomerates rule the industry."---Tab Hunter in Variety, July 18-24, 1994.

"I was doing a scene with Sophia Loren, and Sidney Lumet said, "Tab, you're playing it safe. If you're going to play it safe, stay in bed all day long. It's the safest place to be." And I said, "Sidney, I will never forget that."---Tab Hunter quoted to Los Angeles Magazine, November 2004.