Top billed but never a star.
Anyone who has savored the opening scenes of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho — the illicit faire l’amour in a sweaty Phoenix hotel room pairing Janet Leigh and some handsome dude — will undoubtedly remember Gavin without seeing any of his other movies.
Yes, he was that handsome dude. (See the b&w studio still at the top).
Born in Los Angles in 1931, he was once thought to be another Rock Hudson, or at least another James Bond.
Gavin was neither but he was a decent actor (43 movie and tv credits), the president of the Screen Actors Guild in the early Seventies, and — after his career ebbed — ambassador to Mexico appointed by another former actor, Ronald Reagan. (Gavin was born John Golenor, the son of a Mexican mother, and was a Stanford grad who spoke fluent Spanish.)
He died in 2018 at the age of 86.
(The candid color shot of Gavin shown below the b&w still was taken from our Donald Gordon Collection, named for our late friend, who as a young actor who found himself under contract at Columbia Pictures during World War II. The collection was bequeathed to us after his death. Donald was an amiable fellow, and got unusual access to an impressive list of Hollywood personalities at the time.)
Ok, now on to our John Gavin Quiz. As usual, answers tomorrow. Here we go:
- Question: Gavin actually came pretty close — twice — to playing James Bond onscreen. Which actors aced his chances at the last minute? a) George Lazenby; b) Sean Connery; c) Roger Moore; or d) Pierce Brosnan.
- Question: As a result of his performance in the movie pictured below, Gavin was awarded a 1959 Golden Globe as the most promising screen newcomer. Can you identify this film?
3. Question: Gavin’s is not particularly associated with this 1960 film although there he is in the cast with the likes of Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier and Charles Laughton. The title of this picture is…?
4. Question: Gavin was perhaps better suited to the kind of glossy romantic melodrama exemplified by the 1959 Douglas Sirk outing with Lana Turner and Sandra Dee. Can you identify the movie pictured below?
5. Question: In the late 1970’s Gavin appeared in a tv movie about Italian actress Sophia Loren, playing which one of these classic leading men? a) Clark Gable; b) Rudolph Valentino; c) Cary Grant; or d) Franchot Tone.