Tab Hunter, an icon of his era as a heartthrob on the silver screen, died Sunday night in Santa Barbara in Los Angeles. He was 86 years old when he succumbed to cardiac arrest, according to his long-time partner.
Allan Glaser, who was Hunter's last partner and who has been with him for more than 30 years, confirmed the cause of his cardiac arrest to have stemmed from a blood clot in his leg. He died on Sunday evening, July 8, a death mourned by Hollywood stars after a long career in show business and his status as a gay icon.
"RIP to the most handsome and special man. 'Young Love' forever," Elton John posted on Twitter on Monday, to go with a photo of an older Hunter attending one of his events.
"Young Love," along with "Damn Yankees" and "Battle Cry," cemented Hunter's status as one of the iconic leading men in Hollywood during the heady days of the 1950s and early 1960s, as Variety noted.
He was one of the prototype heartthrob icons of the big screen at the time, thanks to his good looks, sharp blue eyes and blonde waves that were the epitome of the leading man at the time. But right at the height of his success was a growing personal issue, one finally outed to the public by gossip magazine Confidential, who ran a feature alluding to his sexual orientation.
Even as a so-called gay icon, Hunter would rather stick to accepting his sexuality in his private time. "I just have never been comfortable talking about my sexuality," Hunter admitted.
"It's still not my comfort zone. I was just brought up that way. I'm very old-fashioned," he added.
More of his contemporaries, as well as the later generations of Hollywood stars, have come out on social media to offer condolences on his passing, including William Shatner who Hunter worked with on the 1950s television show "Climax!"