Out Gay Heartthrob, Tab Hunter, Dead at 86

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Tab Hunter has died at the age of 86, and with him goes a string of Hollywood and LGBT history that potently defines cinema’s old habits of closeting its biggest stars.

Tab, who shot to superstardom for his incomparable good looks in the 1950s, later came out publicly in 2005 and told his story in the 2015 documentary Tab Hunter Confidential, where he shares satires of his private life being gay in Hollywood.

Thanks to roles in 1955’s Battle Cry and 1956’s The Girl He Left Behind and Burning Hills, he became a star. He signed a seven-year contract with Warner Bros. at the time and starred in the 1958 hit Damn Yankees.

Tab wrote that his first gay sexual experience was at 14, leading to “overwhelming” guilt, prompting him to lie about his age and join the Coast Guard at 15. Soon after being discharged a year later, he was introduced to agent Henry Willson, who changed Hunter’s name from Art Gelien (selecting Hunter because of the hunter horses Tab liked to ride).

Rest in peace, Tab.

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