October 23, 2005 5:37 AM
Tab Hunter Tells All
Tab Hunter (AP)
Hunter now admits that his musical endeavors made him uncomfortable. "I have no idea what I was thinking," he says.
In 1958 there was the hit musical "Damn Yankees" with Gwen Verdon.
But nothing lasts forever and he left Warner Brothers in 1959.
"You don't have that machine behind you and, you know, 'Today's headlines, tomorrow's fish wrap,'" Hunter says.
There was a failed TV show, one surfer movie shot mostly in the studio, some uproarious Spaghetti Westerns and years of dinner theatre. Steady work, good money, but low profile until 1981.
Off-beat director John Waters sought Hunter out to star with transvestite actor Divine in his cult classic "Polyester."
"I would like call every person. Well, I was like running around — like I'd won the lottery. I was running up and down the street. I couldn't believe that Tab Hunter was gonna come to Baltimore to be in my movie. And Divine was over the moon," Waters recalls.
"Tab was a great sport, a great sport, and great comedian, and that's what he was in that movie, he was a comedian," Waters says. "Never ever did I want to make fun of Tab Hunter's career. I wanted Tab to make fun of it with me, the idea of this image, which he seemed happy to do."
Hunter says, "I think the important thing was that it introduced me to an audience who didn't know what a Tab Hunter was or who a Tab Hunter was."
Whatever "a Tab Hunter" was, what he wasn't was sentimental, as his longtime partner, Allan Glaser, discovered when helping him research the book.
"He was so popular that at one time he had a Tab Hunter magazine," Glaser says. "They did about six issues.
"Tab never kept any of these things," Glaser intimates. "He didn't have a movie magazine of himself. He kept no memorabilia. Any likeness of himself was in the garbage. He just wasn't interested in reading about himself."
He certainly didn't lack for material, Spencer says. Glaser adds Hunter appeared in more than 150 magazines.
Those heady days are long gone. Today, he and Glaser own a production company and share a comfortable life together in California with dogs Katie and Olivia.
And if Tab Hunter still seems somehow like a movie star, well, he's as amazed by that now as he's was back then.
Hunter shares thus humorous anecdote with Spencer after she asks if he still gets recognized.
"I was doing a play in Florida and this woman stepped into the elevator and she looked at me and went 'Who? Who?' And I said, 'Troy Donahue' and she said, 'That's it.'"
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