Art Gelien certainly understood the elusive nature of stardom. He was struggling to become a professional ice skater when he was put through the star-making machinery of the 1950s. Renamed Tab Hunter, and promoted as the Sigh Guy, the blonde and handsome heartthrob lived a double life. Publicly, he dated the likes of Debbie Reynolds and Natalie Wood; privately, he romanced actor Anthony Perkins and famed figure skater Ronnie Robertson. Written by Hunter and Eddie Muller, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star has been hyped as a gay tell-all, but it is at its best in examining the 1950s era and recounting the myriad incarnations of Hunter's career. There were huge films (notably, Battle Cry), live TV appearances, a TV series, forgotten Z-grade horror flicks, dinner theater and, via John Waters' outrageous Polyester, a revival as a cult film star (opposite leading lady -transvestite, Divine).
As for coming out of the closet: by his own admission, Hunter long dodged and even lied about his sexual orientation. (In my own 1985 interview with Hunter, he not only said he was straight, but also claimed he'd like a date with then-hot TV leading lady Linda Evans.) So why now? Figure, at age 74, it's a good career move.
When not writing about movies, Los Angeles-based journalist Pat H. Broeske likes to watch them.