2018-07-09 13:26:33 UTC
JULY 9, 2018 6:17AM PT
Tab Hunter, ‘Damn Yankees’ Star and Gay Icon, Dies at 86
By Brent Lang
Tab Hunter, a former on-screen heartthrob and a gay icon, has died. He was 86. The news was announced on a Facebook page associated with the actor, but a cause of death was not included.
With his blonde hair, piercing blue eyes, and toothy smile, Hunter rose to the top ranks of Hollywood leading men in the 1950’s and early ’60’s. He appeared in the likes of “Damn Yankees” and “Battle Cry,”and had chart-topping records such as “Young Love.” But at the height of his popularity he was dogged by rumors that he was gay, a potentially career-ending rumor during that culturally conservative era.
Hunter fell out of favor as the 1960’s continued and a new breed of stars such as Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino, actors who were often less corn-fed and polished, entered the mainstream. As tastes changed, Hunter did summer stock and dinner theater, as well as appeared in spaghetti westerns.
He was rediscovered in middle age, however. Hunter was cast opposite Divine in “Polyester,” a low-budget John Waters comedy that gleefully sent up everything from alcoholism to foot festishism. The film helped introduce Hunter to a younger audience, some of whom were unfamiliar with his pin-up past.
Hunter came out as gay in 2005 with the publication of his autobiography Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star. In it, he wrote about studio publicity arms efforts to mask his homosexuality by linking him with co-stars and friends such as Natalie Wood.
More to come…
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