New York City, New York, USA
Tab Hunter (born Arthur Andrew Kelm; July 11, 1931 – July 8, 2018) was an American actor, singer, film producer and author. He appeared in over forty films and was a well-known Hollywood star and heartthrob of the 1950s and 1960s, known for his blond, clean-cut good looks.
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Arthur Andrew Kelm
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Tab Hunter (born Arthur Andrew Kelm; July 11, 1931 – July 8, 2018) was an American actor, pop singer, film producer, and author. He starred in more than 40 films and was a well-known Hollywood star of the 1950s and 1960s.
Hunter was born in New York City, the son of Gertrude (née Gelien) and Charles Kelm. His mother, from Hamburg, was a German Roman Catholic immigrant, and his father was Jewish.
Hunter's father was reportedly abusive, and within a few years of his birth, his parents divorced. Tab grew up in California with his mother, older brother Walter, and maternal grandparents, John Henry and Ida (née Sonnenfleth) Gelien, living in San Francisco, Long Beach and Los Angeles.
His mother re-assumed her maiden surname, Gelien, and changed her sons' surnames, as well. As a teenager, Arthur Gelien, as he was then known, was a figure skater, competing in both singles and pairs.
He joined the U.S. Coast Guard at the age of 15, 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. When his age was discovered, he was discharged by the Coast Guard. He met actor Dick Clayton socially; Clayton suggested that Hunter become an actor.
Hunter's autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star (2005), co-written with Eddie Muller, became a New York Times best-seller as did the paperback edition in 2007. The book is currently in publication and was nominated for several writing awards. It re-entered the New York Times Best Seller list for a third time on June 28, 2015 during the release of the documentary film based on the book.
In the book, he acknowledged that he was gay, confirming rumors that had circulated since the height of his fame. According to William L. Hamilton of The New York Times, detailed reports about Hunter's alleged romances with close friends Debbie Reynolds and Natalie Wood were strictly the fodder of studio publicity departments. As Wood and Hunter embarked on a well-publicized but fictitious romance, promoting his apparent heterosexuality while promoting their films, insiders developed their own headline for the item: "Natalie Wood and Tab Wouldn't."
Hunter became close enough with Etchika Choureau, his co-star in Lafayette Escadrille, and Joan Perry, widow of Harry Cohn, to contemplate marriage, but he 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 over 35 years, film producer Allan Glaser. While serving in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, his brother Walter was killed in action in South Vietnam on October 28, 1965.
Hunter was raised in his mother's Catholic faith which he has practiced for most of his life. His mother died aged 92, and was buried at Santa Barbara Cemetery.
Hunter has a star for his contributions to the music industry on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6320 Hollywood Blvd.
In 2007, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.
A little after midnight on July 9, 2018, the Tab Hunter Confidential Facebook page announced that Hunter had died. He passed away on July 8 from a blood clot. He would have been 87 on July 11.
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