John Gavin

  1. Robert Evans, The Sun Also Rises, 1957.     Like Anthony Quinn,  Gavin  is from Chihuahua – “home  of the biggest men and the smallest dogs in Mexico.” He was Universal’s second string (and similarly wooden)  Rock Hudson.  And suggested as  the young toreador Pedro Romero.  However, producer Darryl F Zanuck liked the cut  of Robert Evans’ jib. He was a suit salesman at the time (and eventually the highly successful boss of Paramount: Chinatown, The Godfather, Love Story, Rosemary’s Baby, etc.) He was good-looking. But no thespian: “I was a half-assed actor.” As shooting progressed in an un-Spain–like Mexico, author Ernest Hemingway joined Tyrone Power and Ava Gardner in demanding that Evans be fired.  Zanuck refused.  Using the words that became the title of Evans’ 1994 autobiography. “The kid stays in the picture.”   The other kid – Gavin – became President Ronald Reagan’s US Ambassador to Mexico during 1981-1986.
  2. Charlton Heston, Ben-Hur, 1959.    Gavin (ex-John Anthony Golenor) was only US actor to have come close to playing both Judah Ben-Hur and Commander James Bond! (Instead, he played the Italian version: OSS 117… in Niente rose per OSS 117/ OSS 117: double agent or OSS 117 Murder for Sale in 1967).
  3. Steve Forrest, Heller In Pink Tights, 1959.  The first (and last) Western for Sophia Loren and director George Cukor was no kin  to the Fox musical never made after Marilyn Monroe refused it in 1954: The Girl in Pink Tights). Paramount wanted Alan Ladd as the gunslinger hiding out in Sophia’s acting troupe touring the Old West. Ladd passed, followed by the TV Maverick cousins, James Garner and Roger Moore, plus John Gavin and Jack Lemmon – a once and only Cowboy in 1957. Sophia told me she had difficulty finding tall leading men which is why she voted for another telly-cowpoke, Clint Walker.  But he was busy towering over his Cheyenne series, 1955-1962
  4. Stuart Whitman, The Comancheros, 1961.  Paul Wellman wrote his 1952  Western novel for Cary Grant to eventually play gambling; man Paul Regret. – the star role until Gary Cooper, then John Wayne clambered aboard nine years later. He was The Boss, beefing up Big Jake Cutter (leading to   Big Jake McCandles ten years later) and finding roles for his kids, Aissa and Patrick.   By which time Grant was too old (Wayne was too old!!) and certainly would never serve under Duke.  And, yes, I have to say it (better than me singing it)…  Regrets, I have a few, too few not to mention…  Steve Forrest, James Garner, John Gavin, Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster, Tom Tyron, Robert Wagner, Cornel Wilde and ultimately, Stuart Whitman.  Marlon Brando had been keen on the support role of  an Indian chief called Graile.
  5. Rod Taylor, A Gathering of Eagles, 1962.     Change of Colonel Farr from Gavin to Taylor  opposite Colonel Rock Hudson in a  Strategic Air Command saga.  Not that you’d know this from the Universal  poster of… Hudson in bed with Mary Peach.
  6. Hugh O’Brian, Il segretto de vestito rosso/Assassination in Rome, Italy, 1963.      This terrible Cinecitta thriller with Cyd Charisse would have come back to haunt Gavin once he became President Reagan’s ambassador to Mexico in the 80s. The two friends had both been president of SAG: the Screen Actors Guild.
  7. Dick Van Dyke, The Art of Love, 1964. James Garner was always Casey  – well, he was the co-producer. But who should be his roomie in a made-in-Hollywood Paris,  an artist  faking a suicide to increase the value of his work. Paul went through Tony Curtis, John  Gavin, singer Robert Goulet, Rock Hudson, George Maharis, even Oskar Werner,  before being rather well played by Van  Dyke.  Good name for someone  playing a painter!  Gavin was stuck in his  ABC series, Destry which was rapidly axed. Probably because the wooden Gavin was in it. Alfred Hitchcock called him The Stiff during Psycho, 1959.
  8. Jean  Sorel, Vaghe Stelle Dell’orsa, Italy, 1965.       Italian maestro Luchino Visconti’s first choice for the pivotal role was “The Stiff” – which is how Hitchcock called him during Psycho, 1960.  Gavin’s friend, POTUS Ronald Reagan called him something else – the US Ambassador to Mexico! 
  9. Sean Connery, Diamonds Are Forever, 1971.
  10. Roger Moore,  Live and Let Die, 1973.


 Birth year: 1931Death year: 2018Other name: Casting Calls:  9