Tab Hunter died just a few days shy of his 87th birthday. I didn’t really want to write a blog about him, for a few reasons. First, anybody under the age of 55 probably doesn’t know who he is. Second, my interaction with him didn’t go so well.
In 1955 he starred in “Battle Cry” and the following year it was “The Burning Hills.” He found bigger success in the 1958 music “Damn Yankees.” He also had a hit single in the mid-50s with the song “Young Love.”
He got a small degree of fame in the ‘80s when he did the John Waters’ film “Polyester” and a movie called “Lust in the Dust.”
In 2005, he wrote a memoir called “Tab Hunter Confidential.” It dealt with him being gay in Hollywood, at a time when you had to stay in the closet. Heck, that was a time when the studio had to approve who you were dating, even if it was somebody of the opposite sex. He’d occasionally be out with people like Natalie Wood, yet he was really dating Anthony Perkins (Psycho), who he was with for years (there’s a movie rumored to be being made about that, produced by J.J. Abrams and starring Zachary Quinto as Perkins).
The producer of “Lust in the Dust”, had a 30 year relationship with him, and he’s the person I think I had my run-in with.
Hunter was at a bookstore doing a signing of his memoir. I happened to have come across on old ‘50s magazine he was on the cover of a few days earlier. That cemented my decision to go. I could buy the book, and also have him sign the magazine.
Well, there were about 25 people in line. A rather small crowd, mostly due to the fact that there was no advertising about this book signing. When I was about 5 people away from getting my items signed, this old guy came up to me and started screaming about how “He’s not going to sign that, or any other memorabilia!!! We’re here to sign books, not a bunch of garbage like that.”
I was shocked, and said, “Dude, I have one magazine. I’m buying the book, too. Calm down.” I found out at that time, when you tell somebody to calm down, it usually has the opposite effect. He continued to yell. The weird thing was, when the guy right in front of me got to the table, the old guy that had been yelling at me had stepped outside (I think to smoke a cigarette, if memory serves). This guy opens up the thing he had around his shoulder, and pulls out about 20 different 8x10s. Tab looks at them and smiles, saying things like “Oh wow, look how young I was!” He gladly signs everything this guy has. Of course, as I got to the front of the line, the angry guy came back inside and looked at me. And I swear, I have no idea if I asked him to sign that magazine or not. I honestly don’t remember. At this point, I’ve met so many people, I forget all the details.
All that being said, RIP Mr. Hunter. It’s a shame you couldn’t have been in a Hollywood that was more accepting.