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In the 1950's, Tab Hunter made teenage girls across the country swoon. Blond and gorgeous, he was seen around town with Natalie Wood and Debbie Reynolds. Behind the scenes, he was with men. In the new documentary, Tab Hunter Confidential, the star reflects on coming of age in Hollywood as a closeted gay man. Hunter and director Jeffrey Schwarz tell us about the business then and now, and how a mutual appreciation for John Waters' muse, Divine, first brought them together. 

Photo: (L-R) Director Jeffrey Schwarz and Tab Hunter, star of Tab Hunter Confidential. Photo courtesy of Weirdsmobile Productions

Hollywood News Banter 6 MIN, 57 SEC

TV Guide magazine chief content officer Michael Schneider joins Kim Masters to discuss top entertainment news stories of the week.

  • While there's still money in the big broadcast networks, it's been a soft year for upfront ad sales. While Fox had a hit with Empire, the fading popularity of American Idol has their ad numbers coming back down to Earth after years of being inflated. ABC is faring better, thanks to shows from Shonda Rhimes and new successful comedies like Blackish and Fresh Off the Boat.
  • The list of companies cutting ties with Donald Trump continues to grow. Both NBC and Macy's told the presidential hopeful they were done with him after he made racist statements about Mexican immigrants. Trump's beauty pageants will be getting airtime somewhere though. The cable network REELZ announced it will show Miss USA on July 12.
  • TV Land has pulled Dukes of Hazzard because of the Confederate flag painted on the show's famous car, the General Lee. Warner Bros also stopped licensing merchandise from the show.
'Tab Hunter Confidential' 20 MIN, 25 SEC

Tab Hunter a superstar of the 1950's. Blond and stunningly handsome, Hunter's nickname was "The Sigh Guy." One of the last actors who was under contract to a studio, he was a top star for Warner Brothers until 1959. He was also a singer whose single, "Young Love," was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six weeks in 1957.

Hunter made teenage girls across the country swoon. He went on dates with beautiful Hollywood women, sometimes at the urging of the studio. Publicly, he'd frequently be spotted with Natalie Wood. But the two were just good friends. Hunter is gay.

In 2005, Hunter told his life story in the book Tab Hunter Confidential. Now, director Jeffrey Schwarz had adapted the memoir into a documentary of the same name. Hunter's long time partner Allan Glaser produced the film, and spent years acquiring much of the Tab Hunter memorabilia seen in the movie.

When we spoke to Hunter and Schwarz, Hunter told us as he was coming of age in Hollywood, no one talked about the fact that he was gay. In fact, the word "gay" was hardly ever even mentioned.

When Hunter was just a teenager, he was arrested at a party for gathering with other gay men and women. Years later, Confidential magazine ran a story about the now famous Tab Hunter being arrested at a "limp-wristed pajama party." But Hunter was such a famous hunk, and all the other magazines were running stories about him going on dates with women that the Confidential story did very little damage.

But his career wasn't bullet-proof. One of the last actors under contract to a studio, Hunter ended up buying his way out of his deal at Warner Brothers in 1959 because the studio wasn't offering him the challenging roles he wanted. Without studio support, his career took a nosedive. He paid the bills by becoming a pioneer of dinner theater, where the stress of nightly performances led to a heart attack.

In 1981, Hunter's on-screen career had a revival with the John Waters film Polyester. Now, instead of playing the leading man opposite hollywood starlets, his on-screen love interest was the larger than life drag queen, Divine.

In fact, it was a mutual appreciation for Divine that first connected Hunter and Schwarz. The director met Hunter when working on an earlier documentary called I Am Divine. Schwarz, Hunter, and Glaser all hit it off, and when the time came for Hunter to do his own documentary, he and Glaser knew Schwarz was the person they wanted to direct.

Tab Hunter Confidential will play at LA's Outfest on July 11, Hunter's 84th birthday.

Jeffrey Schwarz, director of Tab Hunter Confidential (@schwarzjeffrey)
Tab Hunter, American actor, singer, and author (@tabhunterdoc)

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