John Gavin, Star of ‘Psycho’ and ‘Spartacus,’ Dies at 86
John Gavin, the handsome actor known for his roles in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus — as well as several other classic films — has passed away at the age of 86. The actor’s passing was confirmed by a representative for his wife, Constance Towers, as well as his friend, filmmaker William Friedkin.
Towers confirmed her husband’s passing to THR via a representative, while Friedkin mourned the loss of his “great friend” — whom he directed in an early episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour:
Though burgeoning cinephiles may not recognize his name, they’d be hard-pressed to find a corner of classic cinema in which John Gavin’s face hadn’t appeared. Known as a heartthrob back in the ’50s and ’60s, Gavin played Lana Turner’s love interest in Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life and Janet Leigh’s love interest in Psycho. His leading ladies included the likes of Doris Day, Susan Hayward and Sandra Dee, and he appeared in Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 take on Spartacus.
He also came incredibly close to portraying James Bond: Gavin had signed on to star in Diamonds Are Forever, but was ousted from the iconic role when Sean Connery returned to reclaim it. Connery had exited the series after You Only Live Twice, and was replaced by George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
In 1981, then-president (and former actor) Ronald Reagan asked Gavin to serve as the United States’ Ambassador to Mexico. Gavin accepted and ran one of the largest embassies in the country until 1986.
He is survived by his wife, Constance Towers, who appeared in films like Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss.