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August 2010 Founders' Evening

August 26, 2010


On August 26, FORR's Founders gathered for their first dinner to hear from Ambassador John ("Jack") Gavin, Ronald Reagan's long time friend and Ambassador to Mexico. Ambassador Gavin and President Reagan shared a friendship dating back to their Hollywood years in the '40s and '50s. A fifth generation California native, John Gavin grew up in Ventura c ounty and started on the same high school football team as President Reagan's national Security Advisor, Judge William Clark, and Reagan's Ambassador to Ireland, Peter Dailey. During the inaugural gathering of the Founders, Ambassador Gavin spoke to the wit, humor, and humility of President Reagan, traits that are often found in Americas great Presidents like Lincoln and the Roosevelt's (Theodore and Franklin).


John A. Gavin

John 'Jack' Gavin, featured guest at our 2010 Founders Evening, served as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico from March 1981 until June 10, 1986. As ambassador, he headed one of the largest American diplomatic missions in the world, with more than 1,000 American and Mexican employees representing more than a dozen U.S. government agencies in offices throughout Mexico.

He is a fifth generation native of Los Angeles, where he was born in 1931. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University, where he did senior honors work in Latin American economic history. Having been born to a Mexican mother, he is fluent in Spanish. Before entering government full-time, Gavin served with distinction in the U.S. Navy as an air intelligence officer from 1952-1955, pursued concurrent careers in business and the entertainment field and accumulated considerable public service experience. After his service in the Navy he was offered a screen test and signed with Universal. John Gavin's first film was Behind the High Wall (1956) and his first major lead was in the classic Imitation of Life (1959) opposite Lana Turner. He portrayed Janet Leigh's lover in Psycho and Julius Caesar in Spartacus and starred in a number of other films, TV series, and Broadway productions before leaving show business for politics and to pursue business interests. From 1961 to 1973, he was a special adviser to the secretary general of the Organization of American States and performed task group work for the Department of State and the Executive Office of the President. From 1966 to 1973, he also served on the board of the Screen Actors Guild and was guild president from 1971-1973. For the next eight years, he was engaged in business activities, many of which took him to Mexico and other Latin American countries.






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