May 8, 2015
(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th year where I write and illustrate a blog on each day's gift.)
As lockers clanged open, the hallway became a metal art gallery. Every girl at Woodbourne Junior High School in the 50’s had taped pictures of handsome movie stars and musicians inside their locker door. These photos were cut from the popular movie magazines that we all read and drooled over. It was the age of crushes and giggles. It was a time of daydreams. I had pictures of the Everly Brothers, Pat Boone, Ricky Nelson and Tab Hunter. (My mother discouraged anything related to Elvis because she feared his pelvis might adversely affect her daughters.) Tab Hunter was a clean-cut, handsome young man, the kind mothers would love for their daughters to date. Yes, a wholesome star.
Fast forward to today when I watched the “Tab Hunter Confidential” documentary at the Maryland Film Festival. Director Jeffrey Schwarz did an excellent job of portraying Hunter’s background, career and the man himself. What my mother did not know— what none of us knew when I was 12—was that Tab Hunter had a secret. His studio made sure his image continued as a heartthrob. Mention of his preference for the same sex would have tarnished their star's reputation and most certainly would have resulted in loss of profits for the studio. Until 1957, homosexuals could be prosecuted for gross indecency. Oscar Wilde was sentenced to two years in prison for being gay. Recently I saw “The Imitation Game”, about Alan Turing, the brilliant and gay man who helped break the Enigma code during World War II. Turing committed suicide shortly after his prosecution. We’ve certainly come a long way. Now 37 states allow same sex marriage.
What struck me about Schwarz’s biography of Hunter was how he communicated the three-dimensional human being behind the iconic face. Hunter is handsome (even at 84 now), talented (acting, singing, ice skating, horseback riding) and a nice guy who lives happily with his partner, dogs and beloved horse. His song “Young Love” was part of the movie’s soundtrack and I was surprised that I remembered the words from more than 50 years ago. When I came home tonight, I looked up my old sheet music, which I paid 50 cents for in the 1950’s, and played it on my piano. It brought back good memories and a refreshed sense of well-being knowing that Tab Hunter lives in a more accepting world today.
My gift today was young love.
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