Hollywood star Tab Hunter dies aged 86

Hollywood legend Tab Hunter has died aged 86, the Facebook page for his official documentary has confirmed.

The actor, who rose to fame in the 1950s, was known for starring in movies such as Track of the Cat, Battle Cry, and The Burning Hills.

A statement on the Facebook page for a 2015 documentary on his life read: “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.”

The actor famously came out as gay in his autobiography Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star published in 2005, which became a New York Times best seller.

However, rumours about his sexuality had been going around Hollywood since the height of his fame.

A documentary of his life – Tab Hunter Confidential – was later made in 2015, which can be watched on Netflix. It was directed by Jeffrey Schwarz, and starred Hunter as himself, alongside interviews with John Waters, Clint Eastwood, Debbie Reynolds.


American actor Tab Hunter in about 1955. (Hulton Archive/Getty)

From 1957 onwards, Hunter also embarked on a short-lived music career, releasing the hit song “Young Love,” which sold more than one million copies, and “Ninety-Nine Ways,” which reached No. 11 in the US and No. 5 in the UK.

He also starred in a weekly television sitcom called The Tab Hunter Show, which ran for one season in 1960 and 1961.

Towards the late 1960s, he settled in the south of France, where he landed roles in a number of ‘Spaghetti Westerns,’ such as Vengeance Is My Forgiveness (1968), The Last Chance (1968) and Bridge over the Elbe (1969).

US actor Tab Hunter has died aged 86. (HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty)

In the 1970s, Hunter’s career was quieter, but he starred as the lead in Curtis Hanson directorial debut Sweet Kill in 1973, and had parts in films like Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976), and Katie: Portrait of a Centerfold (1978).

Going into the 1980s, the actor briefly revived his career, starring in Grease 2 (1982) and starring in Dark Horse (1992), about a wheelchair-bound girl serving community service at a stable, which was based on a story written by Hunter.

In his 2005 memoir, Hunter shed light on his experience as gay man in 1950s and 1960s Hollywood.

“[Life] was difficult for me, because I was living two lives at that time,” he wrote. “A private life of my own, which I never discussed, never talked about to anyone. And then my Hollywood life, which was just trying to learn my craft and succeed.”

Hunter had serious relationships with actor Anthony Perkins and figure skater Ronnie Robertson, late settling down with film producer Allan Glaser, his partner of more than 35 years.