Synopses & Reviews
Welcome to Hollywood, circa 1950, the end of the Golden Age. A remarkably handsome young boy, still a teenager, gets "discovered by a big-time movie agent. Because when he takes his shirt off young hearts beat faster, because he is the picture of innocence and trust and need, he will become a star. It seems almost preordained. The open smile says, "You will love me," and soon the whole world does.
The young boy's name was Tab Hunter--a made-up name, of course, a Hollywood name--and it was his time. Stardom didn't come overnight, although it seemed that way. In fact, the fame came first, when his face adorned hundreds of magazine covers; the movies, the studio contract, the name in lights--all that came later. For Tab Hunter was a true product of Hollywood, a movie star created from a stable boy, a shy kid made even more so by the way his schoolmates--both girls and boys--reacted to his beauty, by a mother who provided for him in every way except emotionally, and by a secret that both tormented him and propelled him forward.
In Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, Hunter speaks out for the first time about what it was like to be a movie star at the end of the big studio era, to be treated like a commodity, to be told what to do, how to behave, whom to be seen with, what to wear. He speaks also about what it was like to be gay, at first confused by his own fears and misgivings, then as an actor trapped by an image of boy-next-door innocence. And when he dared to be difficult, to complain to the studio about the string of mostly mediocre movies that were assigned to him, he learned that just like any manufactured product, he was disposable--disposable and replaceable.
Hunter's career as a bona fide movie star lasted a decade. But he persevered as an actor, working continuously at a profession he had come to love, seeking--and earning--the respect of his peers, and of the Hollywood community.
And so, Tab Hunter Confidential is at heart a story of survival--of the giddy highs of stardom, and the soul-destroying lows when phone calls begin to go unreturned; of the need to be loved, and the fear of being consumed; of the hope of an innocent boy, and the rueful summation of a man who did it all, and who lived to tell it all.
“An illuminating, emotionally charged and important piece of Hollywood’s hidden history.” —Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly
“A mesmerizing account of his Candide-like journey through Hollywood.” —The New York Times Book Review New York Times Book Review
“This bio might be the best work of [Tab Hunter’s] career. He takes readers on a gleeful romp.” —Entertainment Weekly Entertainment Weekly
"[A] wry, unblinkered memoir....with that golden hair and torso, the scrubbed skin and the jaw that could open cans, [Tab Hunter] was a whole Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue rolled into one package—except this package had a secret compartment."
—The Washington Post The Washington Post
He became an instant star and a #1 box office attraction, recorded a #1 hit song, and survived a major sex scandal—all by the time he was twenty-five. Five years later, new stars had been developed to meet the demands of fickle fans, and Tab Hunter found himself scrambling to find work, struggling just to survive. Yet survive he did, re-creating himself as a cult star and film producer in a career that spans five decades and more than fifty films, from Island of Desire
to Lust in the Dust
But first, he was Art Gelien, an introverted and extremely attractive young boy who was discovered by a Hollywood agent and transformed—with the help of studio publicity hacks—into Tab Hunter, Movie Star. This book tells how it all happened, and what it felt like to be created, packaged, and sold to the American public. How it felt to appear on-screen, off-screen, and on every newsstand in America with the biggest leading ladies of the day—Linda Darnell, Natalie Wood, Debbie Reynolds, Lana Turner, and Rita Hayworth—while dealing with the reality of being gay in a time when the word didn’t exist. It’s his story of how he kept his bearings when he was suddenly no longer the boy-next-door heartthrob, no longer under the protective wing of the Warner Bros. publicity department, no longer in demand as a “star.” It is his story of how he soldiered on—with perseverance, determination, and faith. And, like the best-loved Hollywood movies, it has a happy ending.
He became an instant star and a #1 box office attraction, recorded a #1 hit song, and survived a major sex scandal--all by the time he was 25. Now Tab Hunter tells what happened in subsequent years as he re-created himself as a cult star and film producer.
One of the biggest screen idols of the 1950s speaks out about the scandals, successes, and sacrifices that came with being the object of desire for millions of women and the pin-up boy for star-struck teenage girls worldwide, and all the while dealing with the reality of being gay at a time when the word didn't even exist.
About the Author
Tab Hunter, a star of screen, stage, and television, has appeared in more than fifty films, including Damn Yankees, Battle Cry, and Polyester. He continues to work as a film producer, and lives in southern California.Eddie Muller, an authority on film noir, is the author of Dark City Dames as well as two mystery novels. He lives in the San Francisco area.