Legendary actor and former Mexico ambassador John Gavin died in Beverly Hills, California on Friday morning. The Psycho and Spartacus star was 86 years old.
Budd Burton Mossa, the actor's former agent and his wife's current manager, confirmed the actor's passing. While no specific cause of death was disclosed, Mossa revealed that Gavin had been sick for months, according to New York Times.
Gavin is survived by wife actress Constance Towers, two children, and two stepchildren. He also has several grandchildren.
A Leading Man Career
Touted as the next Rock Hudson, Gavin debuted in Hollywood with a contract with Universal Pictures. Eventually, he made headlines when he nabbed the lead role in A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958), which won him a Golden Globe for Most Promising Male Newcomer.
Since then, the actor starred in slew of films alongside some of the industry's most celebrated actresses: Lana Turner in Imitation of Life (1959), Sophia Loren in A Breath of Scandal (1960), Julie Andrews in Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), and Katharine Hepburn in The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969).
Gavin is also famous for almost playing James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), before United Artists head David Picker opted for Sean Connery for his sure-fire box office draw. In Live and Let Die (1973), the actor got another shot at the iconic 007 role, but producers decided to go with a British actor and chose Roger Moore.
Gavin continued to make appearances all throughout the 1970s, mostly on television. In the 1980 television movie Sophia Loren: Her Own Story, he impressed audiences in the role of Cary Grant.
Turning To Politics
Just as his Hollywood career was slowing down, Gavin turned to another passion in politics and diplomacy. In a controversial move, then-president Ronald Reagan named Gavin as ambassador to Mexico in 1981.
Even his qualifications — Gavin was fluent in Spanish with business experience in the region and even a Stanford University degree on Latin American economic history — did not quell the negative attention that his position received from the press and other sector leaders in Mexico.
Pressed about his long absences from his post, Gavin defended his overseas trips as part of the job.
"Sure I travel," Gavin told People in an interview in 1983. "I went to Washington to negotiate a $1 billion prepayment to Mexico on its oil revenues to help it out of its financial crisis. I was also negotiating tuna-fishing disputes, immigration policies, trade conflicts."
He quietly stepped down from his ambassadorship in 1986 and retreated to a successful career in business. Later on, Gavin was credited for his role in fostering trade and helping businesses in Mexico get loans.