Jan 16, 2008

Hometown Homage

  If there ever was a moment for re-inforcing my hometown pride, it was the Christmastime discovery of a Hollywood homage in my very own downtown. Handsome actor Kerwin Mathews, perhaps best known for his swarthiness and swordfighting in films like The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) and 1962's Jack The Giant Killer, was recently honored in his home city of Janesville, Wisconsin, just months after his July 5th death in San Franscisco at the age of 81.

  Mathews was born in Seattle but raised in Janesville (he attended high school with my grandparents), a city of around 60,000, and stayed close to his midwestern roots until his late twenties, when he left a high school teaching position to make a foray to Hollywood. Although he never achieved the fame of contemporary 1950s stars like William Holden or Spencer Tracy, with whom he starred in The Devil at Four O'Clock, he nonetheless found a particular genre of films which suited his acrobatic and acting abilities, and remains a cult favorite even today. He relocated to San Francisco in the 1970's, where he replaced a dwindling number of TV and film roles with an interest in dealing antiques and furniture; he remained in the city until his 2007 death.

The city of Janesville recently renamed a small street in its historic downtown area after Mathews, which I was giddy to find while home for Christmas break:

(I will, of course, completely overlook the fact that they spelled his name wrong, at least until I sit down to write my congressman about it).

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