WASHINGTON – Tab Hunter (search) writes about being a closeted gay actor in the spotlight of 1950s Hollywood (search) in his new memoir, "Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star (search)."
Teens of that era loved Hunter's blond, surfer-boy good looks, and he rose to stardom with roles in films such as "Island of Desire," "Battle Cry" and "Damn Yankees!" He also had a pop-music hit single with "Young Love."
When Confidential magazine published a story in 1955 that implied he was gay, "I wasn't angry, I was more fearful," Hunter told AP Radio in a recent interview. "I had very, very few close friends and even a smaller number knew what my sexuality was."
Hunter was able to hide his sexuality from the public, but his acting career hit a dry spell in the 1960s. Then filmmaker John Waters offered him the role of Todd Tomorrow in 1981's "Polyester."
"He said, `How do you feel about kissing a 300-pound transvestite?' And I thought about it for a minute. I thought, `I'm sure I've kissed a heck of a lot worse,'" Hunter recalled with a laugh. "Divine was one of my favorite leading ladies."
Writing the memoir was difficult, the 74-year-old actor said, "because I'm a really private person. I grew up full of denial. I just didn't like any suggestions or questioning of my sexuality."