Kerwin Matthews, star of the 1958 Ray Harryhausen classic The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, has passed away at the age of 81. The actor worked steadily in film and television between 1954 and 1978, but he will always be best known for battling such iconic stop-motion monsters as the Cyclops, the Roc and a sword-wielding skeleton in the film that has inspired generations of filmmakers, animators and vfx artists.
The Wisconsin-born Matthews was a teacher before going into acting. He first appeared on television in an episode of the 1954 television series Space Patrol, and went on to land roles in installments of the popular Playhouse 90, The Ford Playhouse Theater and Matinee Theater. When director Nathan Juran’s The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad became a surprise box office hit, Matthews had little trouble finding work until teaming again with vfx guru Harryhausen on Jack Sher’s 1960 adventure flick The Three Worlds of Gulliver. A couple years later, Matthews was typecast in Juran’s Jack the Giant Killer. A blatant attempt to capitalize on the success of Sinbad, the fairytale features stop-motion monsters animated by Wah Chang, Gene Warren, Jim Danforth and Tim Baar.
Matthews worked with Spencer Tracey and Frank Sinatra on The Devil at 4 O’Clock (1961) and Ernest Borgnine and Colleen Dewhurst on Man on a String (1960), but later said in interviews that he regretted not having a role that really exhibited his acting chops. After completing a string of horror movies including 1971′s Octoman, 1973′s The Boy Who Cried Werewolf and 1978′s Nightmare in Blood, Matthews retired from acting and opened a clothing store in San Francisco.