Hollywood hunk is still a hunk
Tab Hunter, Hollywood’s Golden Boy when he had his first starring role at the age of 19, has been in show business for decades. Hunter will be honored at the second annual Lake Tahoe Film Festival and be interviewed in Harveys Theater by Nick Clooney at Saturday’s black tie event “Celebrity Tribute to Tab Hunter.”
The Lake Tahoe Film Festival runs Friday through Sunday.
The musical play “Damn Yankees” was a huge success on Broadway. And when the motion picture studio bought the screen rights to it, they featured Hunter and used the rest of the original cast members of the play. The story was about an aging baseball player who is seduced by the devil and his female accomplice and sells his soul to them in exchange for going to the World Series. He becomes young again, and so steps in Hunter. Keep an eye out for Bob Fossey, noted choreographer. Fossey dances in the film with the leading lady, played by Gwen Verdon, and was the choreographer. The film was nominated for an Academy Award. The show took advantage of Hunter’s good looks and his ability to sing. The movie features memorable songs like “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola gets,” “You’ve Got to Have Heart” and “Two Lost Souls.”
“We lost Gwen this year,” Tab said sadly, explaining why she won’t be coming to Lake Tahoe for the film festival.
In later years, he made records and even knocked Elvis out of first place on the charts with the song, “Young Love.” It remained in the top spot for 12 weeks.
Hunter went on to star in more than 50 major motion pictures, including “Battle Cry,” “Gunman’s Walk,” “Ride the Wild Surf” and “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean.”
He then went on to appear in more than 200 television series, appeared on Broadway with Tallulah Bankhead in Tennessee Williams’ “The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore,” and starred in his own television series for NBC He was nominated for an Emmy for his performance opposite Geraldine Page in Playhouse 90s “Portrait of a Murderer.”
In the 1980s and ’90s he expanded his already multi-faceted career to include a wacky Western, “Lust in the Dust,” in which he starred, and which he co-wrote and produced in association with Allan Glasser. Cross-dressing actor, Divine, as well as Lainie Kazen, Gina Gallego and Cesar Romero were a lively, outrageous group. They filmed on location in New Mexico and named the town in the film in which a lost treasure is hidden, “Chili Verde” after one of Hunter’s favorite meals.
“It’s all about making a film that is fun.” he said. “When you produce a film, help to write it, find the money to make it, pick the cast and location, and act in it, it gives you a great feeling of accomplishment,” Hunter said.
“We had so much fun on location in New Mexico. It’s one of my favorite places,” said Hunter.
He starred once before with Divine in the the 1981 satire, “Polyester”, directed by John Waters, and was in the musical, “Grease 2,” with Michelle Pfeiffer, Connie Stephens, and Eve Arden. Hunter spoke warmly when speaking about veteran co-stars Connie Stephens and Eve Arden and commented that he thought of Michelle Pfeiffer as a “stand-out” in one of her first performances.
“The wonderful people that I’ve worked with is what makes this business worthwhile,” he said.
Today Hunter has a couple of new projects that he is developing.
“I’ve been in this business long enough to know that you just never know if an idea is going to get picked up, so I try to not get too excited,” he said. “One is a beautiful love story set in Ireland that would be a fine feature film.”
The other is a series connected to a pilot shot last year for T.V. called “Hollywood on Location” in which the behind-the-scenes stories of movies made in different locations are presented using interactive film-clip interviews with casts and crews and shots of the different areas.
When Tab Hunter arrives at Harveys Theater entrance for the interview with Nick Clooney, showgirls and champagne will be waiting for him.
Hunter says he is looking forward to it.
“I’ve skied at Northstar once, but mostly only driven through Tahoe, so I’m happy to have the opportunity to get to know it better. Also, my sister-in-law has recently moved to Minden, and I am looking forward to catching up with her,” he said.
“I’ve been involved with horses all of my life,” he said. “Racing, judging, and competing,” he said. “She has horses as well in Minden and will be participating at a Grand Prix.”
Nick Clooney, award-winning television newsman, columnist and author of “Ten Movies that Changed the World” will be interviewing Hunter. Since Nick is the brother of Rosemary Clooney and father to George, both men have been involved in show business practically all of their lives. So, the tribute is anticipated to be one of the highlights of the festival.
For festival passes, call (530) 577-7770. Prices range from $5 for daytime screenings to $275 for the ultimate Diamond Pass which allows entrance to every single event, screening, reception and Tribute.
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