Hunter, Tab 1931–

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Hunter, Tab 1931–

(Arthur Gelien, Arthur Andrew Kelm)

PERSONAL: Born July 11, 1931, in New York, NY; son of Charles and Gertrude (Gelien) Kelm; partner of Allan Glaser. Hobbies and other interests: Horseback riding.

ADDRESSES: Home—Montecito, CA. Agent—c/o Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, P.O. Box 2225, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2225.

CAREER: Actor, singer, film producer, and writer. Actor in numerous major motion pictures beginning in 1950, including The Lawless, Battle Cry, The Girl He Left Behind, Operation Bikini, The Fickle Finger of Fate, Bridge of Elba, Pandemonium, Grease 2, and Dark Horse. Singer on albums including Tab Hunter, When I Fall in Love, R.F.D., Young Love, and the soundtracks for Hans Brinker, Damn Yankees, Polyester, and Grease 2. Performer in television shows including Tab Hunter Show and a Playhouse 90 production, "Portrait of a Murderer." Actor in dinner theater and television game shows.

Has also worked as a figure skater and a horse trainer. Military service: United States Coast Guard, 1946.

AWARDS, HONORS: Emmy nomination, for Playhouse 90 episode "Portrait of a Murderer."


(With Eddie Muller) Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, Algonquin Books (Chapel Hill, NC), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: The 1950s matinee idol Tab Hunter was born Arthur Andrew Kelm and he later changed his last name to Gelien, his mother's maiden name, before ultimately taking the stage name that he would be known for. When Hunter was working as a horse trainer, a friend suggested that he look into acting. His tall, athletic, California-style good looks earned him the nickname "Golden Boy" with the press. Hunter began his career with a bit part in The Lawless, which later resulted in leading roles such as that of a wartime Marine in the 1955 film Battle Cry. It was this film that set him on the road to stardom and helped cement his heartthrob status. Not long after, in addition to his film roles, Hunter began a singing career. His version of the song "Young Love" spent four weeks as the top song in the country in 1957. His career continued to thrive throughout the late 1950s, with an Emmy-nominated role as a killer in a Playhouse 90 television production, "Portrait of a Murderer." Other key roles include a part in the movie version of the popular musical Damn Yankees and starring opposite the famous actress Sophia Loren in the film That Kind of Woman. As Hunter aged, so did his fans, and his popularity began to wane. In an attempt to improve his career, he returned to television acting with the short-lived Tab Hunter Show. As his career faltered, Hunter continued to work by appearing in foreign movies, dinner theater, and television game shows, later enjoying a brief career starring in the works of filmmaker John Waters opposite female-impersonator Divine.

In 2005 Hunter released a "tell-all" memoir, written with Eddie Muller, titled Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star. In the book, Hunter tells the story of his career, from his discovery by agent Henry Willson through the tabloid scandal of his arrest at a mostly-gay "pajama party." Hunter also discusses a later arrest for animal abuse; he was acquitted but the charges negatively affected his career. The actor additionally uses the autobiography as a vehicle to reveal his homosexuality to the world. He was encouraged to do so by producer Allan Glaser, his life partner of more than two decades. In the book, Hunter additionally shares details about past relationships with Tony Perkins and figure-skater Ronnie Robertson. Ultimately, the reader learns that despite the ups and downs of his life, Hunter is now content.

In a Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide article, Chris Freeman observed that Tab Hunter Confidential gives "fascinating insights into what it meant to be gay in Hollywood in the middle of the twentieth century." Felice Picano, in an Advocate interview with Hunter, stated that the book is a "compelling read." Not everyone was so positive in their assessment of the memoir, however. While Entertainment Weekly contributor Henry Goldblatt noted, "It'd be easy—but wrong—to take Hunter to task for not being a gay-rights pioneer," he nevertheless expressed doubts as to "how honest Hunter is being with readers—and himself in his seeming dismissal of relationships such as his three-year romance with Perkins. Yet the question of Hunter's status as a gay icon did not affect the opinion of Hollywood Reporter critic Jerry Bartell, who called the book "an emotionally engaging survivor's tale that would move film audiences."



Hunter, Tab, and Eddie Muller, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, Algonquin Books (Chapel Hill, NC), 2005.

St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.


Advocate, October 11, 2005, Felice Picano, "Tab Talks: The Meeting of Newly Out '50s Matinee Idol Tab Hunter and Radical Literary Lion Felice Picano Produces Some Sparks and Many Remarkable Exchanges—and the Revelation That Both Slept with Anthony Perkins," p. 70.

America's Intelligence Wire, October 26, 2005, Michael Weinfeld, review of Tab Hunter Confidential.

Booklist, August, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of Tab Hunter Confidential, p. 1980.

Entertainment Weekly, October 14, 2005, Henry Goldblatt, review of Tab Hunter Confidential, p. 156.

Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, January-February, 2006, Chris Freeman, review of Tab Hunter Confidential, p. 39.

Hollywood Reporter, September 19, 2005, Jerry Bar-tell, review of Tab Hunter Confidential, p. 34.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2005, review of Tab Hunter Confidential, p. 776.

Library Journal, September 1, 2005, Rosellen Brewer, review of Tab Hunter Confidential, p. 143.

People, October 31, 2005, Jason Lynch, "No More Secrets: Tab Hunter Opens Up about Life As a Gay Movie Star Playing It Straight in the 1950s," p. 112.

Publishers Weekly, April 25, 2005, Dick Donahue, "Tab Hunter As Himself," p. 31; July 25, 2005, review of Tab Hunter Confidential, p. 58.

San Francisco Chronicle, November 7, 2005, Edward Guthmann, review of Tab Hunter Confidential.

Vanity Fair, November, 2005, George Wayne, "Tab Hunter Finally Tells," p. 290.


GLBTQ: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer Encyclopedia Web site, (April 20, 2006), biography of Tab Hunter.

Internet Movie Database, (April 20, 2006), biography of Tab Hunter.

Tab Hunter Home Page, (April 20, 2006).