Today I read the sad news at Holger’s terrific Hammer and Beyond blog that the handsome and talented action star Kerwin Mathews has passed away at the age of 81. Mathews is best remembered for his roles in adventure and fantasy films like The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960), Jack the Giant Killer (1962) and Battle Beneath the Earth (1967). Many of his movies were childhood favorites of mine.
It’s hard to imagine growing up without Kerwin Mathews. Whenever one of his movies appeared on television when I was a kid I would jump for joy. He had a great voice and he was a totally believable adventure hero with brains and a heart. Most people dismiss the acting in his films, but Mathews could make you believe he was fighting skeletons, battling a cyclops and shrinking to the size of a doll. How many actors can do that? There’s just no getting around the fact that the guy had talent. His ability to make his audiences believe in the unbelievable should be applauded.
Mathews appeared in some good and not so good thrillers as well before retiring from acting in the 1970s. According to the article below he moved to San Francisco with his longtime partner Tom Nicole, where he sold antiques for awhile. At a time when so many gay actors were forced to stay in the closet and unable to get work, Kerwin Mathews managed to become a popular action star who was loved by millions, while maintaining a relationship with his partner for an impressive 46 years. Mathews was a truly great American movie hero.
The San Francisco Chronicle has published a nice article about Kerwin Mathews’ life and death on their website: Kerwin Mathews — Movie Star