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March 6, 2021

Heartthrob of the ‘50s: A Look Back at a Young and Handsome Tab Hunter

After an introduction from actor Dick Clayton, notorious starmaker Henry Wilson decided to take young Arthur Gelien as his client and named him “Tab Hunter.” Hunter had his first film role in 1950, but only after he appeared on the screen without his shirt in several B-movies, including Island of Desire (1952), The Steel Lady (1953), Gun Belt (1953) and Return to Treasure Island (1954), that he began to attract more attention. His decision would eventually pay off with a lucrative contract with Warner Bros, and beefier roles.

Hunter shot to even higher stardom with another World War II epic Battle Cry (1955), in which he played a boyish soldier seduced by an older navy wife. As his beefcake charm was the key of his popularity, it was vital for Hunter’s character to shed his itchy uniform on screen, a strategy to keep Hunter’s ever-growing fans, both female and male, satisfied in The Sea Chase (1955), The Burning Hills (1956) and The Girl He Left Behind (1956). 

As one of Hollywood’s top beefcake commodities, in 1955, the tabloid magazine Confidential initiated an aggressive campaign against the actor to “out” him as gay by reporting his “disorderly conduct” charge at a gay pyjama party in 1950. Hunter’s popularity and career survived despite the story. He also managed to parlay his film celebrity into a singing career with the hit single Young Love, which topped the charts for over a month in 1957.

Take a look back at a young and handsome Tab Hunter in the ‘50s through 22 gorgeous vintage portraits:


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