007 MAGAZINE - The World's Foremost James Bond Resource!

Exclusive Article


"The Names Gavin, John Gavin"

Sean Connery had made it clear he was returning for just one film, which despite its huge success at the box-office had already begun to hammer the nails deeper into the cinematic Bond’s credibility coffin, and in early 1972 the search was on for a third Bond. Once more, Burt Reynolds and even Clint Eastwood’s names were also thrown into the mix. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli felt he owed something to John Gavin after his let-down in 1971, and he was briefly considered again for the role of Bond in Live And Let Die, although nothing was formally agreed. Roger Moore’s name had been linked with the Bond role for some time, and he was formally announced as the next 007 at a press conference at the Dorchester Hotel on August 1, 1972.

Diamonds Are Forever (1971) poster artwork by Robert McGinnis

Gavin’s acting career never really achieved the heights he dreamed of, and he gave several more unmemorable performances in the early 1970s, before returning to television with supporting roles in long-running popular shows such as The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. During this time he was also President of the Screen Actors Guild. In parallel with his acting career Gavin had a brief foray into politics and a return to his cultural roots. In June 1981 he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Mexico by President Ronald Reagan and served until June 12, 1986.

John Gavin remains unique in that he is the only actor to ever have been offered the role of James Bond and to sign a contract but never actually play the character. His tenure was very brief – five weeks at the most, and his signing was an interesting ‘what if?’ question, in the same way many people now view George Lazenby. What if Lazenby had not quit as 007 when he did, and gone on to star in Diamonds Are Forever as was originally intended? The same speculation is also applied to Sean Connery if he had made On Her Majesty’s Secret Service when that film was originally announced following the success of Goldfinger in 1964. The fact remains that neither actor did this, but John Gavin was contracted to play James Bond, but through a cruel twist of fate (which repeated itself when Pierce Brosnan originally secured the role in 1986) was prevented from doing this. His name has now probably usurped that of Barry Nelson in James Bond folklore as the ultimate trivia question for die-hard fans.

John Gavin

Sean Connery would return to play James Bond one final time, in the ill-conceived Never Say Never Again in 1983, making his involvement with the character even more fragmented. With the fifth and final Daniel Craig outing No Time To Die finally released in September 2021, the actor has become the longest-serving James Bond with the smallest number of films to his credit. Gavin was, and always will be, the shortest-serving James Bond with no films to his credit. Gavin died at his home in Beverly Hills, California on February 9, 2018 aged 86.

John Gavin & Janet Leigh Psycho (1960)/Spartacus (1960)

ACTOR AND AMBASSADOR  John Gavin (April 3, 1931 - February 9, 2018)

ABOVE: John Gavin in his two most famous screen roles (left) as Sam Loomis with Janet Leigh as the ill-fated Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), and (right) as Julius Caesar in Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus (1960).

BELOW: John Gavin was President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1971-1973, and was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Mexico in June 1981 by President Ronald Reagan and served until June 1986. (bottom left) Gavin pictured with U.S. First Lady Nancy Reagan (1921-2016) as they visit Mexico City following the 1985 earthquake. (right) John Gavin with his second wife actress Constance Towers. The couple married in 1974.

John Gavin with Nancy Reagan  John Gavin with wife Constance Towers

© 007 MAGAZINE 5 December 2021