Today in ’60: The Tab Hunter Show Debuts
59 years ago today, The Tab Hunter Show made its debut as part of NBCâs new fall lineup for the 1960-1961 TV season, and if youâre wondering why this is relevant enough to warrant a post on Rhino.com, well, you clearly arenât aware of his brief stint as a recording artist!
But weâll get to that. First, letâs talk about Tab on TV!
Produced and directed by Norman Tokar, who would go onto his greatest fame as a director of live-action Disney films in the â60s and â70s (he helmed such classic kid flicks as The Ugly Dachshund, The Apple Dumpling Gang, and The Cat from Outer Space), The Tab Hunter Show was an odd move for Hunter, whoâd forged a career as a matinee idol in the late â50s, an era when moving from movies to TV was seen as a step backwards. In Hunterâs eyes, however, it was an opportunity to actually get a chance to act, since the series found him playing a cartoonist whose comic strip echoed the goings-on in his real life.
âTo a motion picture studio youâre just a commodity,â Hunter explained to the Herald Tribune News Service in June 1960. âThey have gardens of such and so there and great looking tomatoes there, and so forth. But you have no identity as a person. Television gave me an opportunity to act. I worked hard, not asking audiences to like my work. All I want is for them to say, âBy Heavens, the kidâs improved.â If they keep watching long enough, and I keep improving, I may make it.â
Maybe the 33rd episode wouldâve made the difference, but as history reveals, The Tab Hunter Show got the axe after its 32-episode first season. Even more unfortunately, Hunterâs music career was also on the skids by then, but at least he was able to look back at the success heâd had on the charts in the late â50s, including three top-40 hits: â(Iâll Be with You) In Apple Blossom Timeâ (#31), âNinety-Nine Waysâ (#11), and his chart-topping smash, âYoung Love.â
Weâve put together a playlist which features the three albums Hunter recorded for Warner Brothers back in the day, so you can see what all the fuss was about, and if youâre curious about The Tab Hunter Show, youâre in luck: someone was kind enough to upload an episode of the show for your viewing enjoyment.