Oct 19, 2013

John Gavin: Perennial Straight Man with Some Gay-Vague Twists

Today John Gavin is remembered chiefly as "straight man" Sam Loomis who confronts "queer" killer Norman Bates (gay actor Anthony Perkins) in Psycho (1960), or maybe as "straight man" Julius Caesar in the otherwise gay-subtext-filled Spartacus (1960).  

The square-jawed, handsome leading man with hairy chest and the slim frame played many more "straight" men through his 30-year career, with only a couple of gay-subtext vehicles of his own:

Four Girls in Town (1957).  Four men, including John Gavin and gay actor George Nader, pursue four starlets.  Everybody ends up happily attached.

The TV series Convoy (1965-6) was not about truckers, but followed the adventures of a Navy commander (John Gavin) and a civilian ship captain (John Larch) escorting ships across the ocean during World War II.  Haven't seen it, but it sounds promising.

His best claim to gay fame is in: Throughly Modern Millie (1967): In the 1920s, flapper Millie (Julie Andrews) sets her sights on the boss, Trevor Graydon (John Gavin), who nicknames her "John," but still can't conjure much interest.  He does eventually get a girl (Carol Channing), but the 2002 musical version corrects the "mistake," giving him a nice male stenographer instead.

Probably not a big gay ally in real life, conservative Republican John Gavin was named ambassador to Mexico by President Reagan in 1981, and served to 1986.

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