Tab Hunter’s Pre-Outing Secret Romance with Renowned Actor Before Marrying Allan Glaser

Imagine the difficulty of concealing aspects of your true self from the world at large. This was the unfortunate reality for a beloved celebrity who graced the silver screen during the 1950s and 1960s. Emerging as a charismatic heartthrob in Hollywood, he captured the hearts of adoring fans in the ’50s, earning the admiration of bobbysoxers. His notable performances in films like “Damn Yankees” and “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean” further solidified his status.

Born in 1931 in Manhattan, New York City, he ventured into the United States Coast Guard at the tender age of 15 by fibbing about his age. During his service, he garnered the nickname “Hollywood” due to his unwavering love for movies. While his colleagues frequented the local bar after duty, he chose to indulge in the captivating world of cinema from the comfort of his own home.

At 17, he crossed paths with the legendary agent Henry Willson, renowned for cultivating the “beefcake” craze of the ’50s and responsible for discovering talents like Robert Wagner and Rock Hudson. Discussing Willson’s standards in his book, “Tab Hunter Confidential,” he revealed that acting prowess played second fiddle to chiseled features and a well-toned physique. With his striking “Malibu beach boy” looks, Tab Hunter effortlessly embodied the quintessential Hollywood image, skyrocketing to stardom as one of the era’s most sought-after teen idols.

Reflecting on his journey, he humbly admitted, “I was sort of a product of it all. I was thrust into the limelight and wondered where one should serve their apprenticeship. I was one of those individuals who had to learn while doing, learning on the job.”

Yet, Tab’s newfound fame came with immense challenges behind the scenes. In the conservative landscape of 1950s America, navigating life as a homosexual actor proved nearly impossible. Forced to conceal his true self and sexuality to safeguard his career from scandal, he clandestinely pursued relationships while living in the shadows. Eventually, he summoned the courage to publicly embrace his identity and found love with his future husband after coming out. Tab Hunter candidly shared his experiences of working as a closeted gay man in 1940s Hollywood when he felt more secure and comfortable.

His decision to open up to the public was partially motivated by his husband, Allan Glaser, who revealed that someone planned to write a book about Hunter’s life. Rather than allowing others to reveal his secret romances, he chose to be the one to share his truth with the world.

In an interview, the esteemed actor disclosed that he had acknowledged his attraction to men as early as his teenage years. However, during that time period, he would have never openly admitted or accepted the label of being “gay.” His life took a turn when fellow actor Dick Clayton encouraged him to meet with Henry Willson, a renowned agent known as a “gay svengali” who represented other gay actors such as Rock Hudson.

With Willson’s assistance, Hunter secured several roles, ultimately leading to his breakthrough in the 1955 film “Battle Cry,” which catapulted him to stardom. Magazine covers across the nation showcased his face, solidifying his status as the quintessential Hollywood bad boy.

His popularity garnered him a rare seven-year contract with Warner Bros., where he had the opportunity to work alongside Natalie Wood, his co-star in “Burning Hills.” The studio strategically presented them as a romantic duo, and they made appearances together at award shows and various events. Simultaneously, rumors circulated about his closeness with star Debbie Reynolds, while fan mail from adoring female admirers poured in.

Yet, these appearances and rumored relationships were nothing more than publicity stunts. During the peak of his career, Hunter faced a scandalous arrest at a pajama party predominantly attended by gay men. While publicly dating Wood, he engaged in a clandestine affair with Anthony Perkins, best known for his role in “Psycho.” Reflecting on their relationship, Hunter fondly remarked, “Tony and I had a very, very good relationship. We often double-dated.”

Over the years, he maintained other secret relationships, skillfully avoiding rumors or scandals that could jeopardize his career. Eventually, whispers surfaced that it was Wilson, his former agent, who leaked news of his sexuality to the press.

Later in life, Hunter married Glaser, and the couple chose to reside in a cozy cottage situated in a small town near Santa Barbara. Preferring a life away from the spotlight, they embraced simplicity in the 1960s, content with their decision to distance themselves from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. In a 2005 interview with The New York Times, Hunter remarked that success did not encompass the entirety of life.

Tragically, Hunter passed away at their tranquil home, which he shared with Glaser. At 86 years old, he succumbed to a heart attack caused by a blood clot in his lungs, leaving behind a legacy as an esteemed actor who remained true to himself despite the challenges he faced.

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