HOLLYWOOD, CA — Tab Hunter, the 1950s heartthrob who portrayed Joe Hardy in the “Damn Yankees!” movie, has died. He was 86.
Hunter died Sunday night in Santa Barbara from a blood clot that caused a heart attack, Allan Glaser, his romantic partner of more than three decades, told The Hollywood Reporter, describing his death as “unexpected and sudden.”
A Facebook page linked to the star also announced his passing with a message that read: “SAD NEWS: Tab passed away tonight three days shy of his 87th birthday. Please honor his memory by saying a prayer on his behalf. He would have liked that.”
After decades of silence, Hunter confirmed long-standing rumors about his homosexuality in his autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, published in 2005. Hunter said he had been told by Glaser that someone was planning to write a book about him, according to Te Reporter.
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“I thought, `Look, get it from the horse’s mouth and not from some horse’s ass after I’m dead and gone,'” he told the Reporter in 2015. “I didn’t want someone putting a spin on my life.”
The blondish Hunter was a constant presence on the front of fan and teen magazines in his heyday. After he beat out James Dean and Paul Newman to portray a young Marine in Raoul Walsh’s “Battle Cry” (1955), Warner Bros. picked up his option and signed him to a seven-year contract, and he appeared in “The Girl He Left Behind” (1956) and “Burning Hills” (1956).
“If I had come out during my acting career in the 1950s, I would not have had a career,” Hunter said in an October 2017 interview. “Not much in Hollywood has changed in 60 years. I really didn’t talk about my sexuality until I wrote my autobiography.
“My film career had long since been over by then. I believe one’s sexuality is one’s own business. I really don’t go around discussing it. Call me `old school’ on that topic.”
City News Service; Photo Credits: Rob Latour/Shutterstock, Kobal/Shutterstock