License Revoked: John Gavin, Almost a 007

Take a look at the guy above: Mild-mannered schoolteacher, or James Bond, license to kill?

Pictured here are screenshots from the 1961 saccharine-fest “Tammy Tell Me True,” a sequel to the equally tooth-rotting “Tammy,” whose title song was a hit for Pat Boone, which pretty much says it all. In the follow-up, Sandra Dee stars as the titular country bumpkin, while John Gavin plays her love interest, a professor at a small Southern college. Gavin is the epitome of the clean-cut collegiate, while Dee, as usual, is “lousy with virginity.”

Half Mexican and fluent in Spanish, Gavin was born John Anthony Golenor Pablos. He is best known for his role as Janet Leigh’s boyfriend in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” Other credits include “Imitation of Life,” “Spartacus” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Gavin graduated from Stanford and performed air intelligence in the Navy from 1952 to 1955. In 1981 President Reagan appointed him ambassador to Mexico. And according to wiki, he was once a contender for the role of James Bond:

Gavin was signed on for the role of James Bond in 1971’s “Diamonds Are Forever” after George Lazenby left the role. However, he never played Bond due to Sean Connery’s expensive return to the 007 franchise, yet still had his contract honored in full. According to Roger Moore’s “James Bond Diary,” Gavin was also slated to play Bond in 1973’s “Live and Let Die,” but Harry Saltzman insisted on an Englishman for the role.

And just think: If he’d gotten the role, Gavin would’ve gone from Sandra Dee to Pussy Galore. — CC

31 Comments on "License Revoked: John Gavin, Almost a 007"

  1. He’s also married to Constance Towers, who plays Helena Cassadine on GENERAL HOSPITAL, the role first played by Elizabeth Taylor. Gavin was notoriously straight-laced and uptight, which is why he never fit in Hollywood.

  2. jerry benjamin | June 5, 2015 at 3:51 pm |

    He was also too intelligent for Hollywood. His near-double Roy Fitzgerald had the brain of a peahen, and was happy cavorting his way through such roles as “Taza, Son of Cochise” for ten years under his nom de Henry Willson of which you’ve possibly heard, Rock Hudson. Somehow I doubt Gavin would have gotten cozy with Willson and just COULD NOT HAVE MADE HIMSELF DO WHAT HENRY WILLSON TOLD HIM, including, among other things, playing Taza.

  3. Not Bond, but a Don Draper look alike for certain.

  4. jerry benjamin | June 5, 2015 at 5:00 pm |

    Well, turns out Gavin WAS a Willson client, one of the few “Henry would not hit on.” So before anyone corrects me, I correct myself. Thus Gavin’s ultimate failure in H’wood: uptight, too smart, not gay and, alas, not very talented.

  5. Bags' Groove | June 5, 2015 at 5:24 pm |

    “Gavin would’ve gone from Sanda Dee to Pussy Galore” is, indubitably, your finest quip yet, CC.

  6. No gigolo-style low-rise trousers for him.

  7. Ward Wickers | June 6, 2015 at 8:32 am |


    Great photo. We don’t see many men wearing hats these days. He looks terrific in this photo.

    I’ve been watching the French Open tennis event at Roland Garros the last few days and see many men wearing Panama-style hats. When the camera pans the crowd, you see a virtual sea of Panama hats. In the US it’s baseball caps. I wonder why the difference?

  8. Anglophile Trad | June 6, 2015 at 11:29 am |

    @Ward Wickers

    Why baseball caps? Because we like to pretend that we are a classless society.

  9. The difference between the ridiculous gigolo rise and the sublime gentleman’s rise is approximately the distance between two buttons on a dress shirt.

  10. Anglophile Trad,

    We are rapidly approaching being a classless society, by which I mean not a society without social classes—such a thing shall never exist—but rather, a society with no class (class meaning “high quality, integrity, and style”). Hence the lowest common denominator rising to the fore, including hoodie-wearing billionaires.

  11. Anglophile Trad | June 6, 2015 at 11:52 pm |


    I tip my hat to you, sir. I couldn’t have put it better.

  12. Thank you, kind sir.

  13. Señor Yuca | June 7, 2015 at 7:14 am |

    Certain details of the natural shoulder or ivy style have always changed with the decades. The size of collars and lapels, the width of trousers and ties, the presence or absence of cuffs, button placement . . . but other details are essential. Without them it is no longer bonafide ivy. Details such as the natural shoulder, the soft collar and the high rise trouser.

    Nowadays, for all this talk of ivy being in fashion, high rise trousers are almost unobtainable. O’Connell’s do them, and I think Press too. No one else outside Japan seems to make them. When such an essential item is almost unobtainable then something is very wrong with society and the economy.

    I recently read a comment suggesting that such clothing should be restricted to those who can afford to shop at the aforementioned shops. I consider this fatuous – why should dignified men’s clothing be restricted to a tiny minority with sufficient wealth and knowledge? Why can’t anyone who works for a living and has the motivation be allowed to dress in a dignified manner? Film and photos of the past suggest this was the norm for many years.

    Or maybe I just need to move with the times and start exposing my underwear like the clothing industry tells me to.

  14. Señor Yuca | June 7, 2015 at 7:16 am |

    No edit option – should read: no one else (except shops in Japan)

  15. Ward Wickers | June 7, 2015 at 1:58 pm |

    @Anglophile Trad

    I wonder if it is less about egalitarianism and more about the desire to fit in and be a part of something perceived as positive. The French may not need that because they already have a strong national culture and feel they fit in to that very nicely. Anyway, just a thought …

  16. It’s about common sense. Panama hats provide cover for the ears and neck whereas baseball caps do not. Sitting through long tennis matches without suitable protection would invite sun damage. In this case, the French are being practical as well as sartorially elegant which, of course, is very French.

  17. It’s funny to read how everything in Japan is trad by people who obviously have not been there recently. That is far from truth. They are like any other major metro area in Asia. They dress better, but it’s not Ivy everywhere. Christ, most business men were wearing dress shirts that had an ornamental collar on top of a button down collar. It looked terrible. Kamakura had a blog post about it not too long ago.

    And as far as the price, quality clothes cost money. You should be buying quality clothes to keep where and when you find them. Whining about price is just chump-speak. It’s second choice syndrome all around.

  18. Pat Boone did a lot of smarmy songs and he did record Tammy but Debbie Reynolds and the Ames Brothers had the big hits.

  19. It may interest the reader to know that in recent years, John Gavin had his shirts made by the recently retired Freddy Van de Casteele of Los Angeles. Freddy was a master shirtmaker and worked out of his own shop in Studio City. His work was flawless!

  20. I liked him in Spartacus as Julius Caesar, although Julius was never as handsome as John Gavin was!

  21. Charlottesville | December 3, 2020 at 12:57 pm |

    Mr. Gavin was handsome indeed, and those clothes are great. I wish I had his looks, but I think at least I have pretty good matches for his wardrobe in my closet, which is better than nothing.

  22. john carlos | December 3, 2020 at 2:46 pm |

    Charlottesville- I agree. We do what we can.

  23. Ya, we do what we can with what we’ve been given. John wears his tie bar in the correct position in the bottom photo.

  24. Charlottesville | December 3, 2020 at 3:45 pm |

    Bopper – Correct as usual. Tie bars are not bling. While I rarely wear one, a tie bar actually serves a function, and should not be seen when one’s jacket is buttoned. The silly high-placed tie bar, often not even fastened to the shirt placket, is one of the sillier affectations that tends to go with short, tight suits. Unbuckled double monks are another.

    John Carlos – Keep up your good work as a role model. I am wearing a chalk stripe suit and ancient madder tie today; although I don’t think many people will see it, it makes me feel better at least. Hope all is well in Texas.

  25. john carlos | December 3, 2020 at 4:01 pm |

    Charlottesville- All is well here. I believe I have taken at least 100 zoom depositions since March. And it looks like there is no end in sight. I must admit I’m not as disciplined as you with my dress these days. I rarely wear a coat and tie, much less a suit, even though my closet is filled with them. In my tradly defense, my uniform these days is an ocbd, khakis or cords, Alden’s, and my Beaufort when needed. I guess you could call it casual trad.

  26. Charlottesville | December 3, 2020 at 4:29 pm |

    John Carlos — Sounds like the perfect laid back Texas trad look, and sometimes I do the same up here in the Old Dominion. Also, if you are wearing cords and a Barbour things must have finally cooled down a bit out your way, which I am sure is a welcome change.

    Usually I go with a sport coat, but yesterday and today I opted for suits just for the heck of it. I figure I have a closet full of nice stuff, and it is no harder to put on a suit and black cap-toes than it is to pull on jeans, a hoodie and a pair of sneakers. Are you familiar with John Prine’s song “Grandpa Was A Carpenter”? It begins:

    Oh, grandpa wore his suit to dinner
    Nearly every day
    No particular reason
    He just dressed that way

    That’s me, I guess, although I am younger than John Prine was when he died recently, and therefore I must be quite a bit younger than his grandfather.

  27. john carlos | December 3, 2020 at 4:59 pm |

    Charlottesville- yes, the Texas temps have finally cooled down. 28 for the low earlier this week. Typical highs this time of year range from mid 50’s to mid 60’s and typical lows are from mid 30’s to mid 40’s. All in all, pretty nice. I guess it’s our gift for living through 6 months of blazing heat.

  28. Vern Trotter | December 3, 2020 at 11:08 pm |

    Gavin’s ties and lapels reflect the narrow style of the late 50’s early 60’s. The collar points though were not short like the awful looking stubs being sold today, even by JPress. An advantage until recent years with Brooks was that they always kept the necktie width, lapel size and collar point length to our liking in moderation and we did not even realize it. Before they were even gone, I missed that about BB.

  29. Charlottesville | December 5, 2020 at 9:37 pm |

    Mr. Trotter — Very true. Proportion is so important. The classic clothiers (BB perhaps being the foremost up until about 30 or so years ago), always make certain that all is in harmony and that trends do not swing too widely or too suddenly. This was as true on Savile Row as on Madison Avenue.

    I think that was one of the main reasons that Brooks was so successful for 150+ years, and not merely financially. One could always find just the right thing, and not need to worry that one’s investment in a suit or tie or whatever would need to be be shunted off to Goodwill in a year or or even a decade.

    Good, well-made clothing will last 20 years (or longer in many cases) and avoiding radical swings in cut and trendy frills can enable one to spend a bit more for a good product without the fear that it is destined for the scrap heap before it has begun to show the first sign of wear.

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