Kerwin Mathews (1926-2007)

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

8 thoughts on “Kerwin Mathews (1926-2007)

  1. Keith says:

    I always loved watching those types of movies as a kid, and I still do now as an adult. They were awesome. Kerwin Matthews was one of the best in those genres. He will certainly be missed by all his fans. I offer my deepest condolences and sympathies to his family and other loved ones.

  2. Vincent says:

    I had great memories of “Jack…” and “The 7th voyage…”. childhood heroes, yes, the sadest thing is that nobody noticed it here. Thanks for the information.

  3. john says:

    Jack the Giant Killer was a favorite film of mine when I first saw it a t 6. It still is one of my favorites at 42! Mr. Mathews was just terrific in those types of movies, and was so kind to sign several pictures for my collection a few years ago. They don’t have leading men like him any more….he’ll be missed.

  4. Maya says:

    Kimberly, I’m catching up with your site this morning. Always a rich and rewarding experience. It made me so sad to read (belatedly) about Kerwin Matthews’ death. And I was equally surprised to read that he was gay. I never knew.

    Sometimes when I think back on the movies that I loved as a child–and Matthews’ many films are certainly included–I wonder if my “gaydar” wasn’t in nascent development?

  5. cinebeats says:

    Hello Maya! I’m glad you enjoyed the brief blurb about Mathews that I posted. I only came across a comment online somewhere mentioning he was gay a few years before his death, but I had no idea if it was true or not. I thought it was wonderful that it finally got confirmed. How great is it to know that such a handsome action hero who was loved by millions of kids was queer? I think it’s fabulous! Now I want to go back and watch a lot of his films again and see if I can read them any differently. 😉

    Thanks for sharing that link too. I love Brian’s Drive-In!

  6. keven burman says:

    Just found out about Kerwin dying in 2007. I feel sad as like other posters I absolutely adored his films, especially Jack the Giant Killer, which I found fascinating as a child. I recently bought it on dvd to relive those fantastic memories. I had not seen the film for thirty years but could still remember virtually the whole show.

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