With his Californian charm, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, surfer-boy good looks, Tab Hunter was Hollywood’s all-American boy and the ultimate male heartthrob before Brad Pitt even existed.
With Warner Bros. marketing him as the boy-next-door, Hunter made his way into the hearts of every tween and teenage girl in America.
As Hunter became one of Hollywood’s top young romantic leads after starring as young Marine Danny in the WWII drama and No. 1 box office hit Battle Cry in 1955, the tabloids reported Tab’s 1950 arrest for disorderly conduct, tying it to his rumoured homosexuality.
In a new interview with The Gaily Grind, he talks about hiding his sexuality and the career ending possibility if he was found out, as well as his relationship long time partner Alan Glaser.
Talking about the first time the tabloids insinuated he was gay, he says: "I thought my career was over. Back then even a whisper of something like that could destroy a career."
Fortunately on his part, however, the rumour made him win “most promising new coming of the year” by the movie going audiences across the country a month after that article was published.
He added: "Hiding my sexuality didn’t make me a better actor, but it did afford me opportunities to become a romantic lead that I would have not have gotten in the homophobic 1950s otherwise.
"Remember being gay in the 1950s was not only against the law, it was considered a mental disease."
The 85-year-old also reveals he doesn't think Hollywood has come very far since his 1950s heyday when it comes to openly gay leading men.
"Hollywood can be very hypocritical. A town run by gay men who at this time still wouldn’t cast an 'out' gay man in a lead. I’m sure it’ll change eventually but not in my lifetime.
"Though I was closeted I never hid the truth from myself. So I really didn’t become a different person when I revealed “my secret” which I might add was the worst kept secret in Hollywood."
His advice to young gay actors today? "Be true to yourself."
You can read the full interview with Tab at The Gaily Grind.
Words: Bryan Bernal