Some sad news to start the week with: Famed actor Arthur Andrew Kelm — better known as his professional name, Tab Hunter — has died at the age of 86 at his home in Santa Barbara, California. (He was just three days away from turning 87). Hunter first gained the public’s attention through acclaimed parts in Gun Belt, Battle Cry, The Sea Chase, and The Burning Hills. By the time 1958’s Damn Yankees came along, Hunter was a household name and teen heartthrob. Later that year, he also starred in the World War I epic Lafayette Escadrille, a film that showcased Hunter’s impressive acting skills and showed the world that he was much more substantive that just his reputation as a cinematic hunk.
He remained a popular matinee idol for years, before later taking on more challenging roles in the 1970s and ’80s, especially the John Waters camp classic Polyester and Paul Bartel‘s madcap Lust in the Dust.
Forays into recording and television had Hunter finding various degrees of success, but it was on the silver screen where he often shined the brightest. His last film, 2015’s Tab Hunter Confidential, was also his most personal. In the documentary (which was based on his 2005 autobiography), Hunter candidly discusses his homosexuality, why he remained in the closet during the height of his career, and remarks upon his experiences in Hollywood. The film is a enthralling look at a truly original star, one whose courage and filmography will continue to have an impact on the entertainment industry and the world at large.