"...bad breaks...wrong guesses..."Thirteen years later, a San Francisco Chronicle article about Mathews by Marian Zailian reported:
"After more than 20 years of a film career that started with a promise of stardom and foundered on bad breaks and wrong guesses, Kerwin Mathews has decided there's no business like the antique business. "'Yes, I've got a 9-5 job now,' he said the other day, 'and some security at last.'
"At 48, the distinguished sliver-haired actor, whom you can still catch on the late-late show in re-runs of such epics as The 7th Voyage of Sinbad has become associated with Clayton Richard Betters Antiques in San Francisco, where he has lived for the past three years." 141
Zailian recounts career decisions Mathews judged poor:
"'I was asked to make The Saint series,' he said. 'I turned it down. Roger Moore took it, and look how it has changed his life. I was offered a marvelous role in a TV series about a college professor with extrasensory perception. It was all set. I sold my house in London and came back to Hollywood. Columbia Screen Gems called me and asked if I would consider making a series for them about a genie. A girl in a bottle? Who'd ever watch that? I thought. Well, that series made millions for them. My series never got off the ground.'" 142
In the penultimate paragraph, Mathews probably speaks more frankly to Zailian than he intended once he saw his words in print: "Will I ever go back to the movies? I don't know. I made an awful movie last year." 143
That was The Boy Who Cried Werewolf, 144 with Director Nathan H. Juran, who also directed him in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.
Antique store visitFormer Janesville resident Cathy Scott posted a comment on the Growing Up In Janesville Facebook page and mentioned her mom, Helen, was a classmate of Mathews and even dated him. "She gave Kerwin an engraved lighter for Christmas [during high school]," Scott said, "and he later gave the same lighter to his new girlfriend." Her parents visited Mathews in San Francisco when he was working at the antique store, Scott told me, and found him somewhat distant which seems out of character. Most recollections of meetings with Mathews I have seen speak of his friendly, down-home manner.
Mathews was contacted by Beloit College upon his Class of 1949's 50th anniversary and filled out a "1999 Beloit College Homecoming-Reunion" questionnaire. He was 73 and under "Family Information" wrote, "Now an 'olde' Bachelor!" 145
His "Career Summary" listed: "'49—'52 school teacher, Lake Geneva High School; '54—'71 professional actor mostly in England and on the continent; '71—'91 shopkeeper and landlord in San Francisco; '91—'99 landlord." 146
His writing opens a window on his psyche. He seems witty and unpretentious; he also expands on what he told Zailian:
"In 1965, I moved back to this country to begin shooting a television series for which I had done a pilot earlier. A glorious writer, a glorious cast. My two dreams were going to come true: 1. To provide loving comfort for my mum who'd given her life for her little boy; and 2. to start planning with the millions of dollars I'd be earning for the Denmark-Irrmann Creative Center at Beloit College." 147
Fred Burwell, Beloit College archivist, explained that Mathews was referring to "Beloit College Court Theater director Kirk Denmark" and "Robert Irrmann, a beloved Beloit College history professor who was also my [Burwell's] predecessor as archivist. He was a legendary lecturer and a really lively and entertaining person. Students loved him. There never was a Denmark-Irrmann Creative Center. I think that was just a whimsical idea Kerwin had."
"...life in the pink..."
Mathews' career review for the reunion questionnaire continues: "Just as I settled into my new home, the man at the top of NBC responsible for my series was fired and forever disappeared my show. C'est la vie en cinema." (Babelfish, the online translation service, interprets Mathews' French as, "...is life in the cinema.") 148
Under the heading, "Other information I want to share," Mathews reflected:
"A lot of people thought I was a good actor—all thanks to Beloit College. I did a Broadway musical with Patrice Munsel—all thanks to Beloit College. I did five films as the French James Bond in French—all thanks to Beloit College. Now I am at rest—all thanks to Beloit College. C'est la vie en rose vraiment." (Babelfish translates this as "...really is life in the pink.") 149
ResignationAlthough contentment seems integral to his personality, the paths life presented Mathews weren't strewn with roses, even on the avenues of Hollywood, London, and Paris.
Poster promoting film starring Kerwin Mathews as Hubert Bonisseur
de La Bath, aka OSS 117. Found online.149.1
Appearing wary at 48, Mathews in an article titled:
"Whatever Happened to Swashbuckling Kerwin?"
Click for entire story.
Excerpt from Beloit College reunion questionnaire.
Click for full response and other Mathews'
communications to Beloit College.
Patrice Munsel circa 1970.
Purchased on ebay.
Mathews, 37, as O.O.S. 117 with co-star
Nadia Sanders. Found online.149.2