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'Damn Yankees' Star Tab Hunter Dead at 86

10 July 2018

Tab Hunter, the 1950s epitome of the blond Hollywood heartthrob and teen icon pin-up, whose career included early A-list fare like Damn Yankees! and Battle Cry to later (much later) cult classics Polyester, Lust in the Dust and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, has died.

In 2005, Hunter published his autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, in which he acknowledged that he was gay, confirming rumors that had followed him for many years. In addition to his hit movies, he tried his hand at singing and his recording of "Young Love" shot to No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart in 1957. RIP, Tab Hunter. This news was previously reported by Variety. His vocal abilities and film success led to his being cast as Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees; Mr. Hunter is the only principal player in the film that did not originate his role in the original Broadway cast. William Shatner, The Star Trek alum, wrote, "So sad, to wake up to the news of the passing of Tab Hunter". He scored a seven-year contract with Warner Bros. and acted in several of their films like "Burning Hills" and "The Girl He Left Behind".

Despite being publicly closeted for much of his life, Hunter had relationships with Psycho star Anthony Perkins and figure skater Ronnie Robertson before settling down with Glaser.

A highlight was the 1958 "Damn Yankees!", an adaptation of the hit Broadway musical with Gwen Verdon and Ray Walston in their Tony-winning NY roles and the original director, George Abbott, sharing direction with Stanley Donen. "The dilemma, of course, that was being true to myself - and I'm talking sexually now - was impossible in 1953".

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Glaser also told the Times that Hunter was a religious man who worked with paralyzed veterans and animals.

In his memoir, he took pains to note that "Ride the Wild Surf" was his only beach-party movie.

Writing the book was hard, he told The Associated Press in 2005, "because I'm a really private person". The memoir was developed into a documentary in 2015 and his affair with Perkins is the subject of Tab & Tony, an upcoming film starring Zachary Quinto.

The actor's death was first announced on his Facebook page: "Tab passed away tonight three days shy of his 87th birthday", the post read.

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"He collapsed in my arms in the front lawn and I called 911 and we raced him to the hospital", Glaser told The Los Angeles Times; Hunter later died at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

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

Glaser said he wanted people to know "what a good man" Hunter was. "I just didn't like any suggestions or questioning of my sexuality".

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'Damn Yankees' Star Tab Hunter Dead at 86