biography

Handsome actor Tab Hunter was born Arthur Andrew Kelm (later changed to Gelien) on July 11, 1931, in New York City. In 1934, Hunter's mother divorced his abusive father, and his mother moved Hunter and his older brother to California, finally settling in Los Angeles. In 1946, at the age of 15, he joined the Coast Guard, lying about his age in order to be admitted. It was during this time that Hunter was bitten by the acting bug, which he did in part to overcome shyness. His 6' 1", 180-pound frame plus his good looks opened doors in Hollywood, and he was discovered by talent agent Henry Willson, who renamed him 'Tab Hunter.' Hunter made his first film appearance at the age of 19 in The Lawless (1950; with Macdonald Carey and Gail Russell).

Tab Hunter and John BromfieldTab Hunter and Roddy McDowallTab HunterTab Hunter and James Dean

LEFT: With John Bromfield. CENTER A: With Roddy McDowall. CENTER B: Beefcake shot. RIGHT: Tab Hunter was chosen over James Dean for the role of Danny Forrester in Battle Cry. Both actors were under contract with Warner Bros.


The 1952 release Island of Desire proved to be Hunter's big break, and he was soon on his way to stardom. He made a few pictures between 1952 and 1954, before signing with Warner Bros., including Return to Treasure Island. With his Warner Bros. contract, Tab Hunter was one of the last actors who was a product of the studio system. His first film for the studio was Track of the Cat (1954; with Robert Mitchum and William Hopper). With the release of Battle Cry (1955; with Van Heflin and Dorothy Malone), Hunter established himself as a major box-office attraction.

During his tenure at Warner Bros., Hunter embarked on a successful singing career, first recording for the Dot label. He scored a top ten hit with Young Love in 1957. Later, Hunter recorded for Warner Bros. when the studio established a record label.

Tab Hunter

Hunter's album Young Love

In the 1950s and 1960s, many Warner Bros. actors had difficultly with the studio's rigid contract (such as Clint Walker and James Garner), and Tab Hunter was no exception. Therefore, in the late 1950s, Hunter bought his contract back from Warners and struck out on his own. In 1960, Hunter starred in the NBC situation comedy The Tab Hunter Show, in which Hunter portrayed a cartoonist. Unfortunately, The Tab Hunter Show was canceled at the end of the 1960-1961 season. Without a major studio behind him, Hunter's film career began to slide, so he concentrated on Broadway instead, doing fewer and smaller films and quite a bit of television.

the films of tab hunter

Island of Desire (1952) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Linda Darnell and Tab Hunter

Hunter is stranded on a desert island with Linda Darnell in the romance Island of Desire

Return to Treasure Island (1954) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Tab Hunter and Dawn AddamsTab Hunter and Dawn Addams

Images from Return to Treasure Island with Dawn Addams

The Girl He Left Behind (1956)

Tab HunterNatalie Wood and Tab HunterTab Hunter

Images from The Girl He Left Behind. The center photo includes Natalie Wood

Lafayette Escadrille (1958) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

William Wellman Jr., Tab Hunter, Jody McCrea, and David Janssen

Promotional photo from Lafayette Escadrille (1958) with William Wellman Jr., Jody McCrea, and David Janssen

The Tab Hunter Show (NBC, 1960-1961)

Tab Hunter and Nita TalbotTab Hunter and Nita Talbot

Hunter rehearses with glamorous actress Nita Talbot for an October 1960 episode of The Tab Hunter Show

The Golden Arrow (1962)

Tab HunterTab Hunter

Hunter starred in the Italian-made swashbuckler The Golden Arrow

Operation Bikini (1963) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Tab Hunter and Frankie Avalon

Hunter and Frankie Avalon in the American International war drama Operation Bikini

Ride the Wild Surf (1964) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Tab Hunter and Susan HartTab Hunter

LEFT: With Susan Hart in the beach movie Ride the Wild Surf. RIGHT: Promotional photo

The Fickle Finger of Fate (1967)

Tab Hunter

Filmed in Spain, The Fickle Finger of Fate was another of Hunter's comedies

Polyester (1981)

Tab Hunter and Divine

With Divine in the hilarious John Waters comedy Polyester

Grease 2 (1982) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Tab Hunter, Connie Stevens, Dody Goodman, Sid Caesar, and Eve Arden

From the big-budget Paramount musical Grease 2 with Connie Stevens, Dody Goodman, Sid Caesar, and Eve Arden

Lust in the Dust (1985) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Tab Hunter and Divine

From Paul Bartel's Lust in the Dust with Divine and Lainie Kazan

tab hunter today

Although Tab Hunter was groomed as the all-American boy next door, he is at his best when playing villains. He has made many dramas yet has turned in a number of fine comedic performances. In addition to films and television, Hunter has also acted in a number of Broadway plays and has given many dinner theater performances. In 1980, he accepted a role in John Waters' Polyester, portraying lothario Todd Tomorrow opposite Divine. Hunter and Divine teamed up again for the 1985 release Lust in the Dust, directed by Paul Bartel and produced by Hunter.

Today, Tab Hunter is as handsome as ever and is still hard at work. Hunter published his memoirs, titled Tab Hunter Confidential, in 2005. Hunter and his partner, producer Allan Glaser, have been together for about 30 years and are producing a couple of documentaries, one on actor Divine and another on Hunter himself.

tab hunter films available from movies unlimited

Find your movie at MoviesUnlimited.com.

TELEVISION
Burke's Law: Season One, Vol. 2 [DVD](1964) DVD
The final 16 episodes from the first season--including "Who Killed What's His Name?," "Who Killed April?," "Who Killed the Paper Dragon?," "Who Killed My Girl?," and "Who Killed 1/2 of Glory Lee?"--have been collected in a four-disc set. 13 1/3 hrs. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo. **16 episodes on 4 discs. 13 1/3 hrs.**
Combat!: Season 1, Campaign 1 [DVD](1962) DVD
Sixteen episodes from the first season--including "A Day in June," "The Chateau," "Lost Sheep, Lost Shepherd," "Far from the Brave," and "Reunion"--are featured in a four-disc set. 12 1/2 hrs. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono; audio commentary; featurette; bloopers; photo gallery; more. **16 episodes on 4 discs. 12 1/2 hrs.**

FILM
The Lawless [DVD](1950) DVD
A former big-city reporter (Macdonald Carey) takes over as editor of a small California town's newspaper in the hopes it will prove to be an easy, stress-free job. But he soon finds himself at the center of a racial controversy when he launches a crusade to improve working conditions for the local Mexican fruit-pickers and champions the rights of one worker accused of instigating a riot. Gail Russell, Johnny Sands, Lee Patrick also star. 83 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English.
Island Of Desire [DVD](1952) DVD
Tab Hunter stars in this steamy drama, portraying a young Marine shipwrecked on an island with a beautiful nurse (Linda Darnell). At first alone and combative on the island, the castaways are gradually attracted to each other just as the arrival of a handsome pilot (Donald Gray) complicates their relationship even more. With John Laurie, Sheila Chong. AKA: "Saturday Island." 93 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.
The Steel Lady [DVD](1953) DVD
Miraculously surviving a plane crash in the Sahara, an airman (Rod Cameron) and his three passengers unearth a derelict German tank left buried since World War II. Restoring it to working order, the foursome soon meets up with Arabs who believe them to be key in recovering a mythical cache of jewels. Exotic adventure film co-stars Tab Hunter, Anthony Caruso, and John Abbott. 84 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English.
Track Of The Cat [DVD](1954) DVD
Noted for its subdued color cinematography and psychological subtexts, director William Wellman's compelling frontier drama is set in a snowbound farmhouse in 1880s Northern California. As jealousies and rivalries tear at the family members trapped inside, a deadly panther waits out in the wilderness. Robert Mitchum, Tab Hunter, Teresa Wright, Diana Lynn, Beulah Bondi, and, as a 100-year-old Indian, Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer star. 102 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital Surround, Dolby Digital stereo Surround; Subtitles: English; audio commentary; featurettes; theatrical trailer; photo gallery.
John Wayne's Suspense Collection: Presented By Batjac Productions [DVD] DVD
Four-disc set includes "Man in the Vault," "Plunder of the Sun," "Ring of Fear," and "Track of the Cat."
Return To Treasure Island [DVD](1954) DVD
Lighthearted follow-up to the pirate classic follows Jamesina "Jamie" Hawkins (Dawn Addams), beautiful young descendant of Jim, as she comes into possession of a valuable treasure map. With help from a dashing archeology student (Tab Hunter), Jamie will have to stay one step ahead of some greedy scalawags if she hopes to get her hands on the loot. With Porter Hall, James Seay, Harry Lauter, Kit Taylor as Jim Hawkins, and Robert Long as Long John Silver. 75 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English.
Battle Cry (1955)/Battleground [DVD](1949) DVD
Based on the Leon Uris novel, the gritty war saga "Battle Cry" follows a group of marines from basic training to combat fighting during World War II. Van Heflin is the disciplinarian major who whips his men into shape, while Aldo Ray and Tab Hunter are among the jarheads prepping for battle and dealing with domestic predicaments. Mona Freeman, Nancy Olson, James Whitmore, Raymond Massey, and John Lupton also star; directed by Raoul Walsh ("White Heat"). Then "Battleground" is an Oscar-winning account of the Battle of the Bulge, and the American foot soldiers who were trapped by the Germans in Bastogne during the fighting. Van Johnson, John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalban and George Murphy star in this stirring wartime drama, directed by William Wellman. 266min. total on two discs. Standard/Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English; Subtitles: English, Spanish, French; theatrical trailer; bonus short "Little Rural Riding Hood" (1949).
The Sea Chase [DVD](1955) DVD
John Wayne is the Hitler-loathing skipper of a decrepit German freighter who faces danger and romance as he tries to steer the ship from Australian waters to Chile during World War II. Lana Turner is the spy who loves him, and Tab Hunter, James Arness and Paul Fix add able support. 117 min. Widescreen; Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital Surround stereo, French Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, Spanish, French.
The Burning Hills [DVD](1956) DVD
From the pen of western author Louis L'Amour comes this thrilling sagebrush saga about young rancher Trace Jordan (Tab Hunter) and his quest for vengeance against Jack Sutton (Skip Homeier), the crooked cattle baron who had his brother murdered. Wounded by Sutton's thugs during a confrontation, Trace is joined by a beautiful half-Mexican woman (Natalie Wood)--whose father was also killed by Sutton--as he makes a desperate run for his life. Eduard Franz, Earl Holliman co-star. 92 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.
Lafayette Escadrille (Remastered Edition) [DVD](1958) DVD
Spectacular aerial sequences highlight this high-flying epic involving the young American volunteers of the famous French air group during World War I. Tab Hunter, Etchika Choureau, Jody McCrea star, with early appearances by Clint Eastwood and David Janssen. Director William Wellman's story was based in part on his own WWI exploits. 93 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.
They Came To Cordura [DVD](1959) DVD
Tough frontier drama that looks at the nature of heroism stars Gary Cooper as a soldier accused of cowardice in 1916, charged with finding five Medal of Honor candidates and bringing them to a military outpost. With Rita Hayworth, Van Heflin, Tab Hunter. 123 min. Standard and Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo; Subtitles: English, Japanese.
Operation Bikini [DVD](1963) DVD
American International infused its "Beach Party" regulars into this World War II actioner of a Navy demolitions crew charged with finding and destroying a sunken sub before its secrets can be captured by the Japanese. One-of-a-kind ensemble includes Tab Hunter, Frankie Avalon, Scott Brady, Jim Backus, Jody McCrea, Gary Crosby, and Eva Six. 80 min. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.
Ride The Wild Surf [DVD](1964) DVD
Columbia attempted to catch the "beach party film" wave with this more serious look at three surf bums in Hawaii whose ambitions revolve around surfing competitions and girls. Tab Hunter, Susan Hart, Fabian, Shelley Fabares, Peter Brown and Barbara Eden star; theme by Jan and Dean. 101 min. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo; Subtitles: English.
Birds Do It [DVD](1966) DVD
Melvin Byrd (Soupy Sales, in his first and only starring film role) is a "miniscule molecular particle surveillance monitor," which means he dusts the nuclear missiles that are housed at Cape Kennedy. While trying to keep the warheads clean in the face of enemy agents' attempts to dirty them up, Melvyn is accidentally negatively ionized, endowing him with the ability to fly. Tab Hunter, Arthur O'Connell co-star in this wacky comedy; look quickly for a cameo by Dean Martin as himself. 89 min. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.
The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean [DVD](1972) DVD
John Huston's flavorful western stars Paul Newman as the legendary, self-appointed "Law West of the Pecos," a one-time wanted man who arrives in the town of Vinegaroon, Texas, takes over as its judge and dispenses his own brand of justice. The great supporting cast Jacqueline Bisset, Victoria Principal, Stacy Keach, Anthony Perkins, and Ava Gardner as Lily Langtry. 123 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, Spanish, French.
The Timber Tramps [DVD](1975) DVD
Saboteurs want the land owned by a woman for their sawmill operation and call on a ranger to help them out. But the woman has her own set of friends who want to help her against the swindlers. Claude Akins, Tab Hunter, Joseph Cotten, Rosey Grier star in this adventure filled with beautiful Alaskan scenery. 98 min. Soundtrack: English.
Grease 2 [DVD](1982) DVD
More marvelous musical fun! Rydell High is up in the air over a mysterious motorcycle master who's charming Pink Lady Michelle Pfeiffer away from T-Bird leader Adrian Zmed. Could he possibly be quiet new student Maxwell Caulfield? Fun-filled '60s sequel also stars Lorna Luft, Tab Hunter, Eve Arden, Didi Conn. 114 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Surround, French Dolby Digital stereo; Subtitles: English.
Grease (1978)/Grease 2 (1982) [DVD] DVD
Get out your poodle skirts and penny loafers and get ready to rock 'n' roll with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in "Grease" (1978), the hit screen rendition of the Broadway musical look at '50s high school life. Songs include "Greased Lightning," "Summer Nights," "You're the One That I Want" and the title track; with Stockard Channing, Jeff Conaway, Didi Conn, Eve Arden. And, it's time for more marvelous musical fun in "Grease 2" (1982)! Rydell High is up in the air over a mysterious motorcycle master who's charming Pink Lady Michelle Pfeiffer away from T-Bird leader Adrian Zmed. Could it possibly be quiet new student Maxwell Caulfield? Fun-filled '60s sequel also stars Lorna Luft, Tab Hunter, Arden, Conn. 3 3/4 hrs. total on two discs.
Lust In The Dust (1985)/Beyond Therapy [DVD](1987) DVD
First, when gold is discovered in the sleepy Western town of Chile Verde, a stampede of ruthless gunmen, wanton dance hall girls, and laughter follows, in the sagebrush spoof "Lust in the Dust." "Polyester" co-stars Tab Hunter and Divine are reunited, along with Lainie Kazan and Cesar Romero. Next, neurotic couple Jeff Goldblum and Julie Hagerty are determined to have a happy relationship, in spite of Glenda Jackson and Tom Conti...their even crazier therapists! "Beyond Therapy" co-stars Christopher Guest, Genevieve Page; Robert Altman directs. 178 min. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.
Roger Corman's Cult Classics All-Night Marathon: Vampires, Mummies & Monsters (2-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] DVD
First, a crew from a college archeological expedition investigating King Tut's tomb returns home to unveil what seems to be a mummy that they found in a sarcophagus. However, an alien substance is unleashed that eats human flesh. More problems arise when the supposed mummy is resurrected and starts terrorizing the university. Ben Murphy, Nina Axelrod, and Shari Belafonte star in "Time Walker" (1982). AKA: "Being from Another Planet." Next, a band of psychotic punks busts into a vacation home in the mountains and butchers a girl's family, but she gets away. As the killers pursue her through the snow, they soon realize that their acts have somehow unleashed a hellish, deformed creature intent on vengeance. Linda Blair, Tab Hunter, Donna Wilkes, and Robert Z'Dar star in "Grotesque" (1988). Two-disc set also includes "Lady Frankenstein" and "The Velvet Vampire." 5 1/2 hrs. total. Standard/Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English; audio commentary; interview; theatrical trailers; TV spots.
Cameron's Closet [DVD](1989) DVD
A lonely boy's closet seems to materialize his deepest fears and violent impulses, starting with the decapitation of his father. A well-written foray into psychic terror starring Mel Harris ("thirtysomething") and Tab Hunter. 86 min.
Out Of The Dark [DVD](1989) DVD
A clown-masked psychopath is stalking the ladies who work for a Los Angeles phone sex service...and he's making sure that they'll never breathe heavily again. A photographer who's dating one of the girls becomes the prime suspect and must race against time to find the real killer and clear his name. Cameron Dye and Lynn Danielson star in this seamy suspenser along with a cast of cult movie faves that includes Karen Black, Bud Cort, Tab Hunter, Paul Bartel, and in his/her film farewell, Divine.Widescreen; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo.

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tab hunter photos available

filmography

FILMS
Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick (1996) Hunter is featured in vintage film clips
Dark Horse (1992) with Ed Begley Jr., Mimi Rogers, Samantha Eggar, and Tisha Sterling
Cameron's Closet (1989) with Leigh McCloskey
Grotesque (1988) with Linda Blair
Out of the Dark (1988) with Karen Black
Lust in the Dust (1985) with Divine, Lainie Kazan, Woody Strode, and Cesar Romero
Grease 2 (1982) with Connie Stevens, Sid Caesar, Lorna Luft, Maxwell Caulfield, Dody Goodman, and Eve Arden
Pandemonium (1982) with Tom Smothers, Debralee Scott, Eve Arden, and Kaye Ballard
Polyester (1981) with Divine, Mink Stole, Edith Massey, and Stiv Bators
The Kid from Left Field (1979) with Gary Coleman
Katie: Portrait of a Centerfold (1978) with Fabian and Don Stroud
Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976)
Timber Tramps (1973) with Claude Akins and Eve Brent
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972) with Paul Newman, Anthony Perkins, Ned Beatty, Jacqueline Bisset, Ava Gardner, Victoria Principal, Bill McKinney, Steve Kanaly, John Huston, Stacy Keach, Roddy McDowall, and Michael Sarrazin
Sweet Kill (1972) with Roberta Collins
Hacksaw (1971)
San Francisco International (1970) with Pernell Roberts, Clu Gulager, Van Johnson, and David Hartman; once aired on Mystery Science Theater 3000
The Legion of No Return (1969) with Red Ross and Daniele Vargas
The Last Chance (1968) with Daniela Bianchi and Michael Rennie
Shotgun (1968) with Erika Blanc
The Fickle Finger of Fate (1967)
Hostile Guns (1967) with George Montgomery, Yvonne De Carlo, John Russell, Brian Donlevy, and Richard Arlen
Birds Do It (1966) with Soupy Sales and Beverly Adams
City Under the Sea (1965) with Vincent Price and Susan Hart
The Loved One (1965) with Robert Morse, Jonathan Winters, Milton Berle, James Coburn, John Gielgud, Dana Andrews, Barbara Nichols, and Roxanne Arlen
Ride the Wild Surf (1964) with Fabian, Shelley Fabares, Barbara Eden, Peter Brown, and Susan Hart
Troubled Waters (1964)
Operation Bikini (1963) with Jody McCrea, Frankie Avalon, and Scott Brady
The Golden Arrow (1962) with Rossana Podesta
The Pleasure of His Company (1961) with Fred Astaire and Debbie Reynolds
They Came to Cordura (1959) with Gary Cooper and Rita Hayworth
Meet Me in St. Louis (1959) with Jeanne Crain, Patty Duke, and Myrna Loy
That Kind of Woman (1959) with Sophia Loren, George Sanders, and Barbara Nichols
Gunman's Walk (1958) with Van Heflin and James Darren
Lafayette Escadrille (1958) with Brett Halsey, Jody McCrea, David Janssen, Paul Fix, Will Hutchins, Clint Eastwood, Tom Laughlin, Raymond Bailey, William Wellman Jr.
Damn Yankees! (1958) with Gwen Verdon and Ray Walston
The Burning Hills (1956) with Natalie Wood
The Girl He Left Behind (1956) with Natalie Wood, Jim Backus, James Garner, and David Janssen
The Sea Chase (1955) with John Wayne and Lana Turner
Battle Cry (1955) with Van Heflin, Aldo Ray, William Campbell, John Lupton, and Anne Francis
Track of the Cat (1954) with Robert Mitchum and William Hopper
Return to Treasure Island (1954) with Dawn Addams
The Steel Lady (1953) with Rod Cameron
Gun Belt (1953) with George Montgomery
Island of Desire (1952) with Linda Darnell
The Lawless (1950) with Macdonald Carey, Gail Russell, and Martha Hyer

TELEVISION SERIES
Forever Fernwood, 1977-1978 TV series. Hunter portrayed George Schumway
Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman 1976-1978 TV series. Hunter portrayed George Shumway
The Tab Hunter Show, 1960-1961 NBC TV series. Hunter portrayed cartoonist Paul Morgan in 39 episodes.

TELEVISION GUEST APPEARANCES
Match Game, five appearances, orginally aired September 1978
Burke's Law, episode Who Killed Andy Zygmunt?, originally aired March 13, 1964
Combat!, episode The Celebrity, originally aired November 27, 1962
Saints and Sinners, episode Three Columns of Anger, originally aired October 22, 1962
General Electric Theater, episode Disaster, originally aired November 1, 1959
Playhouse 90, episode Portrait of a Murderer, originally aired February 27, 1958
Hallmark Hall of Fame, episode Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, originally aired February 9, 1958
Conflict, episode The People Against McQuade, originally aired November 13, 1956
Playhouse 90, episode Forbidden Area, originally aired October 4, 1956
Climax!, episode Fear Strikes Out, originally aired August 18, 1955
Lux Video Theatre, episode Lightning Strikes Twice, originally aired June 9, 1955
The Ford Television Theatre, episode While We're Young, originally aired April 28, 1955

tab hunter links

The Official Tab Hunter Website
Visit Tab Hunter's official web site, with biographical information, a filmography, and information on Hunter's latest project, Hollywood on Horses. A terrific selection of photos is offered, and each can be autographed.
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This page premiered August 15, 2000.
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