A Hollywood Heartthrob, Singer Is Dead at 86

Tab Hunter starred in 'Damn Yankees,' opposite Divine; also recorded 'Young Love'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2018 10:45 AM CDT
Screenshot from trailer for documentary on Hunter.   (YouTube)
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(Newser) – He shared the screen with drag queen Divine, starred in Damn Yankees, and put out a No. 1 record. Now, "sad news" regarding Tab Hunter, who made hearts thump in general in the '50s: The actor and singer has died, just three days before he would have turned 87, per a Facebook page tied to the star. Allan Glaser, Hunter's romantic partner for more than 30 years, confirmed his death of a heart attack caused by a blood clot, calling his passing "unexpected and sudden," per the Hollywood Reporter. Born in 1931 as Arthur Andrew Kelm, Hunter's stage name was brainstormed by talent agent Henry Willson, who also repped Rock Hudson. His blond surfer image nabbed him magazine covers and the role of Washington Senators star Joe Hardy in 1958's Damn Yankees.

Hunter's 1957 Dot Records recording of "Young Love," which stayed at No. 1 on the charts for six weeks, also spurred the creation of Warner Bros. Records after Jack Warner became irritated he didn't have his own record company to showcase the voice of his studio's star. Hunter appeared alongside Divine in John Waters' Polyester in 1981, as well as in 1985's Lust in the Dust, which also co-starred Divine. Although he was often seen out and about with Natalie Wood, Sophia Loren, and other big-name actresses, Hunter had a relationship with Anthony Perkins, and he confirmed he was gay in his 2005 autobiography. Meanwhile, his longtime love Glaser produced a 2015 documentary about Hunter entitled Tab Hunter Confidential, in which the actor discussed being a closeted gay man in Hollywood while simultaneously being seen as one of its biggest hunks. (Read more obituary stories.)

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