Tab Hunter, the actor, musician and novelist, has died at the age of 86.
News of his death was confirmed on his official Facebook page, a post reading: “Tab passed away tonight three days shy of his 87th birthday.
“Please honor his memory by saying a prayer on his behalf. He would have liked that.”
Hunter, born Arthur Andrew Kelm, shot to stardom in the 1950s, appearing in a host of movies including The Sea Chase, opposite John Wayne, and Track of the Cat, with Robert Mitchum.
He also hit number one in the Billboard chart around the same time with the song Young Love.
But though he was often cast as a shirtless heartthrob in romantic movies pitched by the studios at a female audience, he was leading a ‘double life’ as a gay man, still a taboo at that time in Hollywood.
Tabloids would often report of his relationships with the likes of Debbie Reynolds and Natalie Wood, a practice actively encouraged by the studio’s publicity departments.
In fact, Hunter had a number of affairs with high profile men, including Psycho star Anthony Perkins and Ronnie Robertson, the champion figure skater.
It wasn’t until 2005, in his autobiography Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, that he publicly confirmed his sexuality.
He was also the subject of the Netflix documentary Tab Hunter Confidential from 2015, produced by his partner of 35 years Allan Glaser, in which he discussed his life and career.
In later years, he took on acclaimed roles in movie’s like John Waters’ Polyester, and several others with feted drag artist Divine.
A movie, Tab and Tony, which is to tell the story of his relationship with Perkins, was announced last month, with Star Trek‘s Zachary Quinto in the lead, and produced by J.J. Abrams.