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Tab Hunter, star of 'Damn Yankees!' and 1950s heartthrob, dies age 86

10 July 2018

"Please honour his memory boy saying a prayer on his behalf". A Facebook account for Tab Hunter Confidential, a recently released documentary about him, posted the news, but did not give a cause of death.

Hunter confirmed he was gay in his 2005 autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star. "The dilemma, of course, that was being true to myself - and I'm talking sexually now - was impossible in 1953".

Tab Hunter, the actor who rose to fame in the 1950s, died on Sunday, July 8, at the age of 86.

One of the first Hollywood stars to cross over into pop music, Hunter recored a song in 1957, Young Love, which shot to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart; it went on to sell over one million copies.

"This was sudden and unexpected", Glaser added.

During his most prominent years in Hollywood, despite the fact that being gay at the time was very taboo, Tab Hunter had relationships with Psycho star Anthony Perkins and figure skater Robbie Robertson.

Mr. Hunter is perhaps best remembered for his performance as Joe Hardy in the 1958 film Damn Yankees, adapted from the 1955 Broadway musical with a score by Jerry Ross and Richard Adler.

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He shared the screen with drag queen Divine, starred in Damn Yankees, and put out a No. 1 record. The films included such war dramas as "Battle Cry" (with Van Heflin) and "Lafayette Escadrille" (which featured Clint Eastwood in a small role). He made the Westerns "The Burning Hills" (Natalie Wood) and "They Came to Cordura" (Gary Cooper, Rita Hayworth).

He lived in Montecito with his husband, film producer Allan Glaser.

Glaser and Hunter co-produced Lust in the Dust, in which Hunter played a gunslinger who becomes involved with dance-hall girl Rosie Velez (Divine) and saloon owner Marguerita Ventura (Lainie Kazan) in pursuit of a missing treasure.

At the age of 15 Hunter ran off to join the Coast Guard, but was dismissed from service after it was discovered he had lied about his age.

In his memoir, he wrote that his career flourished despite some innuendo and smear articles in the scandal sheets - "clear evidence that despite its self-righteous claims, "Confidential" magazine did not influence the taste and opinions of mainstream America".

"I believed, wholeheartedly - still do - that a person's happiness depends on being true to themselves", he wrote. "I just didn't like any suggestions or questioning of my sexuality". "But this was very hard for me".

Hunter bought himself out of his contract in 1959 to pursue other opportunities ― a decision he said he later regretted ― but his career still faded.

Tab Hunter, star of 'Damn Yankees!' and 1950s heartthrob, dies age 86