John Gavin , who reached the pinnacle of his acting career with roles in Douglas Sirk’s “Imitation of Life,” Alfred Hitchcock’s “ Psycho ” and the epic “ Spartacus ,” later serving as president of the Screen Actors Guild in the early ’70s and as U.S. ambassador to Mexico under Ronald Reagan, died Friday morning in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Fortunately, audiences were/will once again treated to yet another masterclass in romanticism, as Ernst and Elisabeth’s potentially blissful future is briefly glimpsed before being tragically snatched away in a cruel, almost trademark twist of fate.”
The Los Angeles Times said the film, while not as good as “All Quiet on the Western Front,” was “vivid, sometimes brutally shocking and, less often, emotionally moving,” while Gavin gave a “sensible, likeable” performance.
He next appeared in the Michael Curtiz-directed women’s picture “A Breath of Scandal,” starring Sophia Loren and Maurice Chevalier, but far more important was the film after that: Hitchcock’s “ Psycho ,” in which he played Sam Loomis, the boyfriend of Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane, who frets that they don’t have enough money, steals some from the office where she works, drives to a secluded motel and….
Just as in “Imitation of Life,” Gavin’s role in “Psycho” was not central, but despite the initially mixed critical reception, the film was an extraordinary box office success, which couldn’t help but benefit all associated with it.
At this point Gavin began transitioning to television roles, but he let out his frustrations over his film career in an interview with Hedda Hopper: “When I walked through the gate, Universal quit building actors.
John Anthony Golenor was born in Los Angeles, a fifth-generation Angeleno on his father’s side, descended from early Spanish land owners in colonial California; his mother was a Mexican-born aristocrat.
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