Tab Hunter, the 1950s’ teen heartthrob who would later become a prominent figure in the gay community, died Sunday night. He was 86.
Allan Glaser, his partner for more than three decades, told the Hollywood Reporter that Hunter passed away in Santa Barbara from a blood clot that caused a heart attack.
“Tab passed away tonight three days shy of his 87th birthday,” Hunter’s Facebook page announced. “Please honor his memory by saying a prayer on his behalf. He would have liked that.”
Hunter rose to fame with his roles in “Battle Cry” (1955), “The Girl He Left Behind” (1956), “The Burning Hills,” “Damn Yankees!” (1958), among others. He also kicked off a short-lived yet successful music career with his single “Young Love,” which Billboard named the number four song of 1957. The record’s success caused Warner Bros., where Hunter was under contract, to form Warner Bros. Records.
His career slowed down in the ’60s and ’70s but revived again when he starred in the John Waters film “Polyester” (1981), opposite legendary drag queen Divine.
Hunter came out as gay in his 2005 memoir “Tab Hunter Confidential,” where he detailed his experience of being a closeted actor in Hollywood. He also disclosed his PR relationships with actresses such as Debbie Reynolds and Natalie Wood to hide his real-life affairs with men such as “Psycho” star Anthony Perkins. The memoir was adapted into a documentary in 2015.
“Tab & Tony,” a film about the relationship between Hunter and Perkins, is in the works. J.J. Abrams, Zachary Quinto and Glaser are on board to produce.