Tab Hunter and one of his beards | Dated: 1967 | Associated Press | 18319
Gay Actor Tab Hunter, who rose to fame in the 1950s, died on Sunday at the age of 86.
Hunter, real name Arthur Gelien, was born in 1931. He kept his sexuality a secret for the bulk of his career, and came out in his 2005 autobiography Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star.
The 1950s was inhospitable to gay entertainers, so Hunter kept up secret romances with film star Anthony Perkins and figure skater Ronnie Robertson while actresses Natalie Wood and Debbie Reynolds bearded for him.
Hunter’s sexual orientation, like that of his contemporary Rock Hudson, was an open secret among journalists covering Hollywood stories. The Guardian notes:
The gossip columns of the day, penned by Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper, “made subtle references” to his sexuality, as Hunter wrote in the Hollywood Reporter in 2015, “wondering when I was going to settle down with a nice girl and then, after the studio began pairing me with my dear friend Natalie Wood on faux-dates, asking if I was ‘the sort of guy’ she wanted to end up with”.
Ultimately, Hunter would end up with producer Allan Glaser, his partner of 36 years.