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Tab Hunter

  1. Richard Jaeckal, Come Back, Little Sheba, 1952.    He was new, he was pretty - why else had agent Henry Willson added him to his Rock/Guy/Rory stable - but as Saturday Island proved, he could not act that well. During his audition to become Turk Fisher, director Delbert Mann stopped him cold: “You don’t need to go on.”That convinced Tab that he’d “never getbeyond being a second-rate B-movie actor.”
  2. Farley Granger, Senso, Italy, 1954.    It would be a whole decade later before Hunter discovered thatthe gay Italian director Luchino Visconti hadcalled- as he always did to a new gay beauty. Hunter’s his agent never called him back! Luchino Whoziss? (Count Don Luchino Visconti Di Modrone - that’s who!)
  3. James  Dean, Rebel Without A Cause, 1955. The only worse Warner idea than “The Sigh Guy” as Jim Stark... was Jayne Mansfield as Judy! A Jack L Warner memo clearly stated, his alternative leads were: Tab and Debbie Reynolds. Knowing he was into something better than a lame excuse to utilise Warner’s younger contract players, director Nicholas Ray fought tooth and  grail against them.
  4. Dennis Hopper,Giant, 1955.
  5. Earl Holliman, Giant, 1955.
  6. Alex Nicol, Sincerely Yours, 1955.    James Dean was a big rebel aftedr t East of Eden, while all Tab got offered was Liberace’s dank debut. “I was rejected: too young. Thank goodness - it was another nothing role.”
  7. Efrem Zimbalist Jr, Bombers B-52 (UK: No Sleep Till Dawn), 1957.      A boy ina man’s job..! Warners wanted a third teaming of Tab ’n’ Nat(alie Wood) but at 26, looking 18, he was a tad young to be Colonel Jim Herlihy, CO of the 329th Bomber Squadron in what he saw as“a sappy romance wrapped in an Air Force recruiting promo. The planes had more dimensions than the characters.” Warners finally found a man to do the boy’s job: Efrem was 49... As for thje Tab ‘n’ Nat team - songwriter Gwen Davis put it best: Natalie Wood and Tab Wouldn’t
  8. Efrem Zimbalist Jr, 77 Sunset Strip, TV, 1958-1964.     And “Junior” also inherited Tab’s next offer. He had just been elbowedinto making his future discs for Warners, so was in no moodto also agree to a TV series.
  9. Edd Byrnes, Darby’s Rangers, 1958.    Warners supended Tab for refusing to go to war and simply drafted 77 Sunset Strip’s Kookie. Minus his comb.
  10. Jack Lemmon, Cowboy, 1958.    Warners hated the fact that Tab had won himself a new career as a pop singer - and deep-freezed him.   No way the studio would allow Columbia to loan him to be Frank Harris experiencing Glenn Ford’s cattle drive out  West.

  11. Paul Newman, The Hustler, 1961.    While they were shooting They Came To Cordura in Utah, director Robert Rossen kept trying to talk Tab into becoming pool player “Fast” Eddie Felson in his next film.  “Bob - enough!  I hate shooting pool. I’m no good at it.”   Two years later: “I realised what a fool I’d been.”
  12. Richard Beymer, West Side Story, 1961.    If it had been made in 1958, said Hunter, the public would have insistedit be made with Tab and Nat. But it wasn’t 1958. Natalie Wood was still up, but Tab had started moving down.(He did play Tony on-stage. at the Meadowbrook Dinner Theatre in New Jersey, no less).
  13. Terence Stamp, Billy Budd, 1962.    Tab’s agent, Dick Clayton, fixed up the meeting at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Tab dutifully knocked on director Peter Ustinov’s door.  Mrs. Ustinov opened the door.  Looked at him.  Said: “All wrong!” And slammed in the door in his face.
  14. Jean Sorel, Vaghe Stelle Dell'Orsa (US: Sandra of a Thousand Delights), Italy, 1965.    Columbia did not agree because Tab was gay - hardlynewsto Hollywood. Or to Count Don Luchino Visconti Di Modrone - the Italian movie maestro Luchino Visconti.
  15. Russ Tamblyn, Furankenshutain no kaijû: Sanda tai Gaira (US: The War of the Gargantuas), Japan, 1966.    How rapid Tamblyn’s decline into Z-shlock… just was five years after West Side Story!  Tab went on into John Waters schlock.
  16. Jeffrey  Hunter, El Dedo del destino/The Cup of St Sebastian (US: The Fickle Finger of Fate), Spain-USA, 1967.    The US title had it about right…  The two Hunters, Tab and Jeffrey, met up by chance in  Madrid.   Over dinner,  the  Lake Arrowhead water-ski-ing buddies discussed their drekky assignments and decided to, quite simply... switch movies.“What the hell?” they agreed.  “The producers won’t know Jeffrey Hunter from Tab Hunter.” And so, Jeff made Tab’s Western, The Christmas Kid, and Tab made Jeff’s thriller (re-writitng most of it “from a lacklustre thriller to a lacklustre comedy”) for a new US director, Richard Rush, “who seemed to focus less on the film than on getting laid.”
  17. Gordon Oas-Heim, Andy Warhol’s Bad, 1977.    Andy Warhol had first offered Tabthe doubtful pleasure of co-starring “with one of his ‘superstars,’ Geri Miller, the groupie girl with the siliconed tits.It didn’t pan out.” Later on, Jed Johnson admittedguilt feelings about not casting Tab as Carroll Baker’s husband. It was a Warholthat was closer to John Waters (who re-made it, that is to say revisited thehit-woman neighbourhood with Serial Mom, 1994). Oas-Heimmadefour featuresin 14 years.
  18. Anthony Perkins, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, 1978.    Tab and Tony had a long affair in the 1950s.

 

 

 





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