Remembering Tab Hunter (1931 – 2018)

Tab Hunter, iconic 1950s American actor, television host, pop singer, and film producer, passed away on July 8, 2018 in Santa Barbara, California at the age of 86.

Tab Hunter is remembered for his starring roles in feature films such as Battle Cry (1955) and Damn Yankees (1958). Hunter’s stardom expanded with roles in other popular films including two Westerns, The Burning Hills (1956) and The Girl He Left Behind (1956), both played alongside a young Natalie Wood. As a product of the star system in Hollywood, he became a sex symbol to millions of women and girls around the world.

Expanding his career beyond film, Tab Hunter also found success as a pop performer. His first hit single, “Young Love”, in 1957 superseded Elvis as the number one single on charts worldwide, where it remained on top for six full weeks. Achieving television fame as well, Hunter starred in his own series for NBC, The Tab Hunter Show, as well as guest starring in dozens more.   

In the 1980s, Hunter’s film career took a more avant-garde turn with his role in John Waters’ film Polyester (1981). In 1985 Hunter and his longtime partner, Allan Glaser, starred in and produced Lust in the Dust.  

In fear of jeopardizing his image, Tab Hunter never felt comfortable disclosing his sexual identity, and did not come out as openly gay until his 2005 autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential. In 2015, his autobiography was subsequently adapted into a documentary of the same name. Hunter expressed that he wanted people to hear his story “from the horse’s mouth and not from some horse’s ass after I’m dead and gone.” Tab Hunter’s story and outlook on life adds a new voice to the present day LGBTQ+ movement.

In 1976, Tab Hunter analyzed his career in an interview that was featured in the documentary Making it in Hollywood. Hunter expresses how he preserved his sense of reality after achieving fame as a Hollywood megastar.  

The documentary was produced by Frank and Laura Cavestani and Tom Weinberg. Jodie Sibert was an interviewer and Elan Soltes the videographer for the shoot with Hunter in the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Hollywood.   

What follows is the original raw footage from the hotel room in 1976.

Tab Hunter Interview, 1976

Join us at the Chicago Archives + Artists Project Festival

When: Friday, July 13th and Saturday, July 14th

Where: Read/Write Library, 914 N. California

Cost: free!

More info:

Throughout 2018, Media Burn has been collaborating with Sixty Inches From Center as part of the Chicago Archives + Artists Project. This weekend, it’s time to celebrate the project with a weekend full of free events. This festival will offer a wide range of presentations and workshops that focus on legacy preservation and archive nurturing for Chicago artists, curators, and cultural producers. This festival seeks to show the role archives play in preserving the legacies, stories, and histories of artists — especially the voices of marginalized artists that are often neglected  from mainstream conversations around art.

The festival will be an opportunity to take a first look at our collaboration with artist Ivan Lozano, who is using our collection to explore the representation of Mexicans in media. Lozano works in a range of mediums, from video to sculpture. The talk will take place from 2:00-3:00pm on Saturday, July 14th.



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