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  • Writer's pictureTimbo73

Kerwin Mathews: Pave the Way for Sinbad!

A recent viewing of 5 AGAINST THE HOUSE (1955) starring Kerwin Mathews, Kim Novak, Brian Keith and Guy Madison triggered a Google search for the actor who will always be the definitive Sinbad in my mind. The search yielded nothing I didn't already know. Or, in all candor, had forgotten and was again reminded.

There was one thing that did catch my eye, though. It was a footnote buried on his Wikipedia page referencing an online-only entry by Janesville (Wisconsin) Gazette reporter Ann Fiore. In October 2007 and by unanimous vote, the city council honored him by renaming a street from Racine Court to Kerwin Mathews Court (the actor had died three months earlier). Further below is the text of Fiore's report.

Well, I couldn't just stop there. The boy who would be Sinbad was extensively covered by his hometown newspaper. Long before his Hollywood move in 1952, Mathews was a known performer by locals. The Gazette's pages gleefully tracked their celebrity as his career blossomed, especially so when he returned home to visit friends and his mother Francis. I stumbled upon article after article that made it clear Janesville was very proud of Kerwin Mathews.

Here's a small sampling of clippings from the Janesville Gazette. Oh, there were many more...

From May 1946, Mathews is highlighted for his role in Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT.

A casting "scandal" was flamed by Rita Hayworth after the actor had just finished FIVE AGAINST THE HOUSE which introduced Mathews to moviegoers in 1955.

THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD was a hit with folks back home in December 1958.

This is reporter Ann Fiore's Gazette Xtra online entry from October 9, 2007

A one-block street located south of the Janesville Performing Arts Center will bear the name of a former Janesville boy who went to Hollywood.

On a 6-0 vote, the city council Monday changed Racine Court to Kerwin Mathews Court. Council member Tim Wellnitz was absent.

Mathews was born in Seattle, Wash., in 1926 but moved to Janesville when he was a toddler. His interest in acting blossomed at Janesville High School-now JPAC-where he performed in school plays, and at Beloit College, where he studied drama and music.

He moved to Hollywood in the early 1950s and starred in cult adventure classics such as "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad," "The 3 Worlds of Gulliver" and "Jack the Giant Killer." He worked with the likes of Spencer Tracy and Frank Sinatra and knew stars such as Katherine Hepburn.

Mathews later moved to San Francisco, where he sold furniture and antiques. He died there July 5 at age 81.

Even though he no longer lived in Janesville, Mathews supported the arts by donating to JPAC.

City staff said they had received no objections from the two property owners who would be affected by the name change.

If you're ever in Janesville, Wisconsin...

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