Tab Hunter Dead: 'Damn Yankees!' Heartthrob Dies at 86

TAB HUNTER Various- 1960's

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Actor and 1950s Hollywood heartthrob Tab Hunter, who later came out as gay, has died at age 86.

Glaser told the Los Angeles Times that Hunter collapsed in his arms at their home, and he was rushed to the hospital.

Hunter was best known for starring in the 1958 film version of the Broadway musical "Damn Yankees!" as Washington Senators slugger Jack Hardy.

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. THR reports his music inspired Warner Bros., the studio behind most of his films, to launch Warner Bros. Stevenson said Hunter, who came to Santa Fe in 2015 to introduce a double-bill screening of Tab Hunter Confidential and Lust in the Dust, was planning to return in July for the upcoming Hipico horse show.

In recent years, Hunter appeared in dinner theaters and organized film projects.

In his '50s-'60s heyday, Hunter appeared in both films and TV, with credits including 1952's Island of Desire, Battle Cry and The Sea Chase ('55), and two 1956 co-starring roles opposite Natalie Wood, The Burning Hills and The Girl He Left Behind.

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William Shatner, The Star Trek alum, wrote, "So sad, to wake up to the news of the passing of Tab Hunter". At the height of his career he had his own television show, "The Tab Hunter Show", and a hit single with Young Love.

The leading man revealed he was gay after decades of speculation in his 2005 autobiography "Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star".

George Takei tweeted "Tab Hunter was so much more than a teen heartthrob - he was a celebrated actor, trailblazer and an icon for the LGBTQ community".

Mr. Hunter continued to appear in films through the 1980s, including two memorable screen performances opposite drag legend Divine.

"I never mentioned my sexuality to Warner all and they never mentioned it to me, thank God", Hunter told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. And this guy said, 'Turn around Tab, this is for the next issue of Confidential magazine.' I went, 'Oh God!' and turned away.

In fact, as his star was soaring in Hollywood, Hunter was involved romantically with actor Anthony Perkins and champion figure skater Ronnie Robertson. J.J. Abrams, Hunter's husband and producing partner Allan Glaser and Neil Koenigsberg are working on on a movie about the star for Paramount titled Hunter, with Zachary Quinto set to star.

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