Tab Hunter (Arthur Andrew Kelm, New York City, New York, USA, 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. He had a 1957 hit record with the song "Young Love," which was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six weeks (seven weeks on the UK Chart) and became one of the larger hits of the Rock 'n' Roll era. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. He had the hit, "Ninety-Nine Ways," which peaked at No. 11 in the US and No. 5 in the UK. His success prompted Jack L. Warner to enforce the actor's contract with the Warner Bros. studio by banning Dot Records, the label for which Hunter had recorded the single (and which was owned by rival Paramount Pictures), from releasing a follow-up album he had recorded for them. He established Warner Bros. Records specifically for Hunter.
Hunter was born in New York City, New York to immigrants from Germany. His father, Charles Kelm, was Jewish and his mother, Gertrude Gelien, a Lutheran who later converted to Judaism. 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 the sons' name to that as well. Hunter's older brother, Walter, a medic, was killed in Vietnam. As a teenager, Hunter was a figure skater, competing in both singles and pairs.
Hunter was signed to a contract at Warner Bros. and re-named "Tab Hunter" by his first agent, Henry Willson. His good looks got him pegged as a teen idol. He landed a role in the film Island of Desire opposite Linda Darnell. Although he believed that he had a mediocre singing voice, he had a 1957 hit record with a cover of the Sonny James song, "Young Love," which was #1 for Hunter for over a month. Hunter's success led Warner Bros. to form Warner Bros. Records.
Hunter was perhaps best known for his starring role in the 1958 musical movie, Damn Yankees. In the movie, Hunter plays Joe Hardy of Washington D.C's American League baseball club. (The movie had originally been a broadway show, but Hunter was only in the movie version. The show was based on the 1954 best-selling book, "The Year The Yankees Lost the Pennant" by Douglass Wallop).
While doing The Tab Hunter Show (1960-1961) on television, he was one of the finalists for the lead in the movie version of West Side Story, but did not get the part, because the producers felt he was "too old" at 29. On July 9, 1960, he was arrested by Glendale, California police for beating his dog. He was acquitted by a jury, but the incident dealt a severe blow to his squeaky-clean image.
For a short time in the late 1960s, Hunter settled in the south of France, where he acted in "spaghetti westerns". His career was revived in the 1980s, when he starred opposite transvestite actor Divine in John Waters' Polyester (1981) and Paul Bartel's Lust in the Dust (1985). He is particularly remembered by later audiences as Mr. Stewart, the substitute teacher in "Grease 2," when he sang "Reproduction." He also wrote and starred in Dark Horse (1992).
In his autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, he acknowledged his homosexuality, confirming rumors that had circulated since the height of his fame. The book became a best-seller, though the news of his relationship with Paramount star Anthony Perkins was first explored in the book Anthony Perkins: Split Image (Alyson Books).
Hunter lived in Montecito, California, near Santa Barbara with his partner of 23 years, film producer Allan Glaser. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6320 Hollywood Blvd.
Hunter's homosexuality contrasted sharply with his image as a "ladies man." His agent planted stories in teen and gossip magazines that Hunter was involved with many famous young starlets of the day, and, for a long time, Hunter was linked as Natalie Wood's "boyfriend." At a party the two attended, a female songwriter in attendance quipped openly, "Natalie Wood, but Tab wouldn't."
His agent and later his studio would go so far as to have Hunter appear at red carpet events and at night clubs with the starlet he was linked to. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.