Gavin, John


Gavin, John
(1932– )
   Actor John Gavin was born in Los Angeles. His mother was Hispanic, and this prompted him to major in Latin American history at Stanford University. He served in the Korean War as an air intelligence officer. Gavin went into pictures in 1956 and costarred in three important films in a row: Imitation of Life (1959), opposite Lana Turner; Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), as the fiancé of a murder victim played by Janet Leigh; and as Julius Caesar in STANLEY KUBRICK’s SPARTACUS (1960).
   In Spartacus, Gracchus (Charles Laughton), a sly Roman senator, talks Caesar into allowing Spartacus and his slave army to leave Italy in the ships of Tigranes (HERBERT LOM) and his Cilician pirates; that is Gracchus’s way of getting rid of Spartacus and his army in an expeditious manner. Caesar balks at the notion of the Roman senate bargaining with criminals—but only momentarily. As Gracchus puts it, “If the criminal has what you want, you do business with him. ” Caesar’s silence clearly implies assent.
   Gavin continued in films through the 1970s. He starred in Romanoff and Juliet (1961) with PETER USTINOV (who also appeared in Spartacus), the author and director of the film; and he played opposite Julie Andrews in Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967). He was president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1971 to 1973.
   His interest in Latin American affairs continued over the years, and he served as an adviser to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, 1961–1973; as a consultant on Latin-American affairs to the State Department; and finally as U. S. ambassador to Mexico, 1981–1986. He is married to actress Constance Towers.
   See also Laughton, Charles.

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

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