Saturday, February 10, 2018

John Gavin, 1931-2018

John Gavin (l.) saves Vera Miles (not in photo) from Anthony Perkins at the end of Psycho (1960)

John Gavin, who became a star at the end of the 1950s and into the early 1960s with movies like Imitation of Life and Psycho, has died aged 86.

Gavin wasn't an actor by training, at least not in the sense that he started out at a young age doing high school drama productions the way many people did. Apparently he served in the navy for several years in the early 50s, was supposed to be technical advisor for a movie but got a screen test instead, and the rest is, as they say, history. Some smaller roles came, then A Time to Love and a Time to Die, a movie that I actually have not seen yet. Supposedly it was a commercial failure, but by the time of release Gavin had already been cast in Imitation of Life (pictured at left).

Gavin continued acting until 1981, when fellow actor Ronald Reagan became president and nominated Gavin to be US Ambassador to Mexico. Gavin's mother was of Mexican descent and Gavin spoke excellent Spanish, making his appointment perfectly understandable. Gavin served until 1986. Gavin is survived by his wife of 43 years, actress Constance Towers.


joel65913 said...

The man was a real looker but I was always somewhat mystified by his great success as a leading man in the 60's since he was more or less bereft of acting talent. The main impression he left was of chisel cut stiffness. Still he appeared in some very entertaining and good films.

Ted S. (Just a Cineast) said...

To be fair, sometimes you need a leading man whose job it is to make the leading lady look good and not overshadow her. George Brent made a career for himself doing that at Warner Bros. for ages. Nobody watches a Bette Davis movie because it's got George Brent as the co-star.