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Tab Hunter Appreciation: A Star Who Survived Both the Studio System and Hollywood Homophobia

Tab Hunter Appreciation: A Star Who Survived Both the Studio System and Hollywood Homophobia

“To ask ‘Whatever happened to Tab Hunter?'” a reporter for The New York Times once wrote, “is to ask ‘Whatever happened to America?'”

As we remember Hunter — the Hollywood heartthrob who died this week a few days shy of his 87th birthday — it’s clear that his own career and personal path follows America’s (and Hollywood’s) arc of understanding homosexuality in the post-wwii era. A performer who was once deeply closeted in the industry could, in his later years, make two outrageous comedies in which his romantic co-lead was played by legendary drag queen Divine.

Born Arthur Gelien, Tab Hunter was one of a stable of performers groomed for stardom by agent Henry Willson, who gave the neophyte performer his name and his first forays onto the big screen.

Hunter made his big-screen debut in 1950 and would become one of the decade’s biggest stars, both

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