John Gavin, who co-starred in some of classic cinema’s most memorable landmark films and went on to serve as a United States Ambassador in the 1980s, has died at the age of 86.
A representative for Constance Towers, the actor’s wife, confirmed Gavin’s passing to The Hollywood Reporter. The actor reportedly died Friday morning in Beverly Hills.
The official cause of death has not been disclosed. TMZ reports that Gavin had been suffering from complications from pneumonia and had been diagnosed with leukemia. SYFY WIRE has reached out to Gavin’s family for comment.
Filmmaker William Friedkin mourned his friend in a Twitter post on Friday, describing Gavin as “[o]ne of the finest men I knew” who was “like a brother to me.”
Over a long acting career, Gavin worked alongside legendary actors and directors and appeared in a string of major studio films, many of which are still regarded by fans and critics as relevant and important milestones in cinema.
Gavin played Sam Loomis, the boyfriend of Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), and Julius Caesar in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus (1960). He also starred opposite Lana Turner as Steve Archer in Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life (1959), and played a supporting role in Midnight Lace with Rex Harrison and Doris Day.
He also came very close to another career-defining role: Sean Connery’s (and, for one previous film, George Lazenby’s) successor as James Bond. After Gavin had already inked a deal to star in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, United Artists continued wooing Connery to return to his role as Agent 007, and Connery ultimately agreed.
On the television side, in the mid-1960s, Gavin appeared in the short-lived western series Destry and in another short-lived series, Convoy. In the 1970s and early 1980s, he made appearances on a slew of shows, including Mannix, The Love Boat, Hart to Hart, and Fantasy Island.
Born John Anthony Golenor and fluent in Spanish since childhood, Gavin entered politics after a lengthy acting career, serving as the United States Ambassador to Mexico under President Ronald Reagan from 1981 until 1986.
Gavin is survived by his wife and her two children, as well as two children from Gavin’s previous marriage to actress Cicely Evans.