'Damn Yankees' star Tab Hunter dead

Tab Hunter (Pic Courtesy: Variety)

"Damn Yankee" actor Tab Hunter, a gay icon, is dead. He was 86.

Hunter died on July 8 in Santa Barbara after a blood clot in his leg caused a cardiac arrest, Allan Glaser, Hunter's partner for more than three decades, confirmed to variety.com.

Hunter rose to the top ranks of Hollywood leading men in the 1950s and early 1960s. He appeared in the likes of "Damn Yankees" and "Battle Cry", and had chart-topping records such as "Young Love".

But at the height of his popularity, he was dogged by rumours that he was gay, a potentially career-ending trivia during that culturally conservative era.

Hunter fell out of favour as the 1960s continued and a new breed of stars such as Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino entered the mainstream. As tastes changed, Hunter did summer stock and dinner theatre, as well as appeared in spaghetti westerns.

He came out as gay in 2005 with the publication of his autobiography, "Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star". In it, he wrote about studio publicity arms efforts to mask his homosexuality by linking him with co-stars and friends such as Debbie Reynolds and Natalie Wood.

That book inspired a 2015 documentary by Jeffrey Schwarz, also called "Tab Hunter Confidential."

Hunter became a symbol of the gay rights movement, but it was a role he took on reluctantly. Despite being publicly closeted for much of his life, Hunter had relationships with "Psycho" star Anthony Perkins and figure skater Ronnie Robertson before settling down with Glaser.