Actor Tab Hunter, star of 'Damn Yankees!' movie, dies age 86

Actor Tab Hunter, star of 'Damn Yankees!' movie, dies age 86

Tab Hunter, the blond actor and singer who was a heartthrob for millions of teenage girls in the 1950s with such films as "Battle Cry" and "Damn Yankees!" and received new attention decades later when he revealed he was gay, has died.

In 2005, Hunter published his autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, in which he acknowledged that he was gay, confirming rumors that had followed him for many years.

The fuss over the young actor began two years later when he appeared bare-chested opposite Linda Darnell in the British-made "Island of Desire".

Hunter paid to get out of his contract with Warner Bros. and starting in 1960 he shifted his focus ton television with the sitcom "The Tab Hunter Show", which lasted a season.

Those two films framed Hunter in one of Hollywood's oldest lies: a false romance with Wood, meant to create a protective smoke screen in front of his homosexuality.

He also enjoyed musical success with the release of "Young Love" which stayed number one atop the Billboard charts in 1957 for six weeks.

Hunter was born on July 11, 1031 as Arthur Kelm in New York City, but grew up in California with his mother, brother and maternal grandparents.

Starting in the early 1950s and lasting through the early 1990s, Tab Hunter starred in more than 70 movies and TV shows.

Glaser told the Los Angeles Times that Hunter collapsed in his arms at their home, and he was rushed to the hospital. At age 15 he joined the U.S. Coast Guard and was eventually discharged for being underage.

Hunter was a mega star, most remembered for 1958's classic Damn Yankees. "They'd say, 'Can I have your autograph?' and he'd sign Troy Donahue's name", Stevenson said.

"I consider Hollywood my past life", he told The New Mexican in 2015.

However, he was forced to disguise his sexual orientation and relationships with Anthony Perkins, star of Psycho, and figure skater Ronnie Robertson. Directed by Jeffrey Schwarz, the film was produced by Hunter's life partner Allan Glaser, who survives him and is developing, with J.J. Abrams, Zachary Quinto and playwright Doug Wright, a feature film based on the section in Hunter's memoir about his affair with Perkins.

Hunter became a symbol of the gay rights movement, but it was a role he took reluctantly, saying in a 2015 interview with Slant that, "I just have never been comfortable talking about my sexuality".