John Gavin, Legendary ‘Psycho’ And ‘Spartacus’ Actor And Former Ambassador To Mexico Dies At 86

Giuseppe AnastasiAP Images / File

John Gavin, the actor best known for his roles in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Spartacus died on Friday, Feb. 9, at his home in Beverly Hills, California. He was 86.

Although he had been in Hollywood for quite some time, it was not until he starred in Imitation of Life and A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958) that he became a well-known actor. In both films, he worked with German-born director Douglas Sirk.

The latter film title was adapted from the novel authored by Erich Maria Remarque, and it was John Gavin’s very first film. He also tried acting in musicals by performing alongside Julie Andrews in Thoroughly Modern Millie in 1967 but after this, his career started to crumble and he left Universal.

As per Variety, the actor almost played James Bond in the 1971 British spy film Diamonds Are Forever but apparently, the plan did not push through. In the succeeding years, he attempted to make a comeback and appeared in a few films and TV shows including The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and Hart to Hart.

While he may not have had that many acting assignments in the early 70s, he was still busy after being assigned as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1971-73. Moreover, by this time, John Gavin was already on the road to another career path – diplomacy.

President Ronald Reagan appointed him as ambassador to Mexico in 1981. He served as a diplomat from 1981- 86.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush’s administration approached John Gavin and asked him to run for a U.S. Senate seat but he turned down the proposal, citing business and family matters.

Gavin was born in Los Angeles on April 8, 1931. He came from a well-to-do family and was of Mexican and Chilean descent.

For his education, John Gavin attended Stanford University and earned his degree in economics and Latin American affairs. Afterwards, he joined the U.S. Navy and served as air intelligence officer during the Korean War from 1951 to 1953.

Meanwhile, The Sun reported that John Gavin died after a long battle with leukemia. His condition worsened after suffering complications from pneumonia. His wife, actress and singer Constance Towers, confirmed that he passed away before 6 a.m. on Feb. 9.