Just last night I added the 1997 Hollywood crime drama L.A. Confidential to my Netflix queue, and hours later learned that former heartthrob Tab Hunter has died at 86. What’s the connection? In the film, a Hollywood heartthrob’s arrest for homosexuality is buried by the studio fixers… something that, allegedly, was inspired by Hunter’s own experience.

It took almost a decade before Hunter actually came out, in 2005, though his orientation had been an open secret for years; he even appeared as the romantic interest opposite drag queen Divine in 1982’s Polyester.

I talked to Hunter about Divine and being gay in Tinseltown in 2015, when he was in town for a screening of the documentary based on his memoir, Tab Hunter Confidential. He was a charming and friendly gentleman (we even got a selfie together). He died just after midnight this morning; Wednesday would have been his 87th birthday.

— Arnold Wayne Jones