John Gavin, 1931 – 2018

Click here to see our currated gallery of John Gavin images.

Movie-star handsome movie star John Gavin, 86, died on Feb. 9. An air intelligence officer in the Korean War, he was ushered into films by family friend Bryan Foy, who recognized that looks like Gavin’s were a gold mine. Making his debut in 1956, he costarred in the high-camp soaps Imitation of Life, Back Street and Midnight Lace, played doomed Janet Leigh’s lover in Psycho, was Julius Caesar in Spartacus, and starred in the TV series Destry and Convoy. The bilingual Gavin served as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico during the Reagan Administration.

Gavin on his career

He had no illusions about his career: “Some of those early roles were unactable. Even Laurence Olivier couldn’t have done anything with them. The dialog ran to cardboard passages such as ‘I love you. You can rely on me darling. I’ll wait.’ But I wish I could have been put in 40 or 50 roles before making my ‘first’ picture, do you know what I mean?” Gavin is survived by his second wife (since 1974), actress Constance Towers.—Eve Golden