TabDuring the 1950s and 1960s, Hollywood heartthrob Tab Hunter ruled the silver screen. But even though studio producers made him seem like the all-American sweetheart of girls everywhere — even setting up public appearances with him and his female co-stars — in reality Hunter was closeted and gay. For a while he was dating fellow closeted actor Anthony Perkins, best known for his lead role as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Their relationship was famously rocky, which has led director J.J. Abrams to team up with gay actor Zachary Quinto and develop a film about the Tab Hunter and Tony Perkins secret relationship.
The screenplay is being written by the gay Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Doug Wright. Wright won a Tony for both his 2003 one-person show I Am My Own Wife, a play about a trans woman who survived the Holocaust, and Quills, the off-Broadway play about BDSM forefather the Marquis de Sade.
It’s easy to understand why the Tab Hunter and Tony Perkins secret relationship would make such great dramatic fodder. Remember, back in the 1950s, being outed as an openly gay man could get you arrested, beaten up by cops, thrown in jail, criminally charged as a sodomite or sexual deviant, fired from your job and publicly disgraced with your name published in the paper — sometimes just for being in a gay bar.
In fact, in September 1955 the tabloid Confidential published a report about Tab Hunter and his 1950 arrest for “disorderly conduct,” which basically implied he was gay. Hunter and his studio did their best to downplay the report by presenting him publicly as in a relationship with co-star Natalie Wood.
Hunter revealed details about his Tony Perkins secret relationship in his 2005 autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, as well as the 2015 documentary Tab Hunter Confidential. Perkins died of illness related to HIV in 1992.