Hunter’s career comprised some 75 film and TV credits including 1955’s Battle Cry and 1958’s Damn Yankees. He is best remembered as a teen idol of the Fifties who actually recorded a No. 1 hit single. His career had its ups and down, of course, with Hunter enduring bouts of bad health (he is still with us at 82) and a late-in-career surge in questionable ventures.
Hunter’s superbly written 2005 autobiography (coauthored by Eddie Muller) Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star is an unqualified gem, says Frank. It’s easily one of the most honest and interesting star biographies he’s ever read, and is highly recommended. The book is also the inspiration of today’s quiz.
Ok, on to our answers (as usual, the questions can be read if you just scroll down to yesterday’s blog):
1) Answer: Both 2 and 3. Let us explain. Hunter was born Arthur Kelm, but after his parents (Charles Kelm and Gertrude Gelien) split up his mother retained her maiden name and passed it along to the couple’s children. Thus Arthur Kelm grew up as Art Gelien.
2) Answer: 3) Henry Willson, an agent renowned for handling the careers of handsome young actors (including Rock Hudson and Guy Madison) and dreaming up their marquee names.
3) Answer: 2) He was molested by his parish choirmaster at the age of 12. At least that’s what Hunter wrote in his autobiography.
4) Answer: We apologize in advance. This is a trick question. ALL of the four actresses mentioned worked in movies costarring Hunter.
5) Answer: Yikes, another trick question. Hunter at various times was promoted by his studio (Warner Brothers) under all ALL FOUR of these dubious sobriquets. Don’t worry, students. You’ll be given credit for both 4 and 5 no matter your answer.
6) Answer: Both 2 and 4. “Young Love” was the “A” side of the Dot Records recording, “Red Sails in the Sunset” was on the “B” side. Wrote Hunter years later, “I’ll be damned — ‘Young Love’ Sounded Pretty Good!”
7) Answer: True. Hunter is candid about his sexuality in his autobiography –“Although I long ago accepted my sexual orientation, I’ve never been comfortable discussing it.”
8) Answer: 3) Etchika Choureau, Hunter’s female costar in William Wellman’s Lafayette Escadrille in 1958. The French-born beauty (nee Jeannine Verret in 1929) returned to Paris after a short stint in Hollywood, never capitalizing Hunter’s near proposal.
9) Answer: 3) Van Heflin. He and Hunter costarred as father-son in the 1958 western Gunman’s Walk, and Hunter considered him “the ultimate actor.” The movie, wrote Hunter, “has sadly fallen into obscurity, but it still stands up as one of the best, most tough-minded westerns of the 1950’s and a high point on my acting resume.”
10) Answer: 3) After Hunter was signed by agent Willson, they had a discussion of what to change his name (Art Gelien) to. The agent said they had to “tab” Hunter with “something.” Willson was told that his new acting charge loved horses, “hunters and jumpers.” Bingo: a light bulb went off and out of it all emerged Tab Hunter.
That’s our boy with Linda Darnell above and Natalie Wood below.