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The 'brains' and 'action' heavies who had meaty roles and lots of dialog ... and the players who were fathers, ranch owners, lawman, mayors, judges, lawyers, storekeepers, newspaper editors, wardens, etc.


Carl Mathews

1903 - 1959

Middle name was probably:
David

Other middle name variations:
Davis, Dave

Nickname:
'Cherokee'



Above is Carl Mathews circa 1942 and dressed in his normal "henchman costume" which consisted of a dark hat and dark vest.


Clipping on the right is from the pressbook for STAGE TO MESA CITY (PRC, 1947) which starred Lash La Rue.
 

(Courtesy of Les Adams)


Oklahoma born Carl Mathews was a prolific heavy and stuntman who worked in several hundred B westerns of the 1930s and 1940s. There is a question about his birth year being 1899 or 1903-ish. The Dawes Rolls along with the 1910, 1930 and 1940 census indicates 1903 and confirms his Cherokee tribal affiliation.

In 1924, Carl is a crew member of the steamship America which departed New York for England, France and Germany. In the 1930 census, he is a railroad switchman and he, wife Margaret and newborn son Carl David Matthews Jr. are living in Muskogee, Oklahoma. A couple years later, the family is in California, but we don't know why the move and the reasons behind Carl's job change to the movie business.

His screen and brief TV career spanned 20+ years, from approximately 1934-1955. He was most often a gang member and sometimes portrayed Native Americans. And many of his roles were unbilled/uncredited. He seemed to get a bit more dialog and screen time than the typical henchman.

To supplement meager acting wages, he added stunting and doubling to his repertoire. He doubled Fred Scott in all of Scott's Spectrum films; and he was Ray 'Crash' Corrigan's double in some of Republic's Three Mesquiteers as well as Monogram's Range Busters.

His earliest film work began in mid 1930s B westerns starring Fred Scott, Kermit Maynard, Ken Maynard, Tim McCoy, others. During this period, he had uncredited roles and stunting in oaters and cliffhangers for producer Louis Weiss. Those Weiss productions included sagebrushers starring Rex Lease, a Kane Richmond mountie adventure, and serials CUSTER'S LAST STAND (Weiss/Stage & Screen, 1936), THE AMAZING EXPLOITS OF THE CLUTCHING HAND (Weiss/Stage & Screen, 1936), THE BLACK COIN (Weiss/Stage & Screen, 1936), THE MYSTERIOUS PILOT (Weiss/Columbia, 1937), JUNGLE MENACE (Weiss/Columbia, 1937), and THE SECRET OF TREASURE ISLAND (Weiss/Columbia, 1938).

In the 1940s-early 1950s, Mathews was a resident gang member at Monogram and Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC) doing lots of villainy against Buster Crabbe, Bob Steele, Jack Randall, Lash LaRue, Eddie Dean, Johnny Mack Brown, Jimmy Wakely, Whip Wilson, the Range Busters, the Texas Rangers, more.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)
That's probably Carl Mathews jumping onto the stage as the double for Ray Corrigan in this scene from the Range Busters WEST OF PINTO BASIN (Monogram, 1940).

Bud McClure is the stage driver and Jerry 'Yodeling' Smith is the shotgun guard.



(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above - George Chesebro (left) and Carl Mathews (right) are battling Max Terhune in an unidentified Range Busters adventure. Mathews worked in most of 24 Range Buster films.


Circa 1950, an older looking Carl Mathews appeared in the six film western series that former Hopalong Cassidy sidekicks Russell Hayden and James Ellison made for producer Ron Ormond and director Thomas Carr. And Carl did twenty or more CISCO KID TV programs.

Mathews was slim and reasonably good looking and some have asked why he didn't get promoted to bigger roles such as the brains heavy or even hero or hero helper duty. Many B western performers had issues with dialog delivery, and you can include Carl Mathews on the list. Examples:
  • The Rex Lease ROUGH RIDING RANGER (Weiss/Superior, 1935) was one of his earliest movie jobs and he palavers (badly) with leading lady Janet Chandler and no-good Robert Walker.
  • Jump ahead a half dozen years to TONTO BASIN OUTLAWS (Monogram, 1941). At around the 46 minute mark in this Range Busters adventure, henchman Mathews is guarding John 'Dusty' King who is tied up inside a nearby cabin. Heroine Jan Wiley sneaks into the shack ... she hides under a bed ... Mathews enters and spots her ... and gives her to the count of ten to come out of hiding. It's a painful countdown which ends at five, and then King and Mathews duke it out.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - Lobby card from TONTO BASIN OUTLAWS (Monogram, 1941). Range Buster John 'Dusty' King is battlin' the mustached Carl Mathews in the cabin fight soon after Mathews begins his countdown as mentioned above.


People who knew and worked with Mathews noted that he had an alcohol problem. Suffering from cirrhosis, he passed away on May 3, 1959 at the Los Angeles County General Hospital.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Carl Mathews: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0558617/

The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), California Death Records datbase, ProQuest obituaries, and the Death Certificate have more information on Carl Mathews. Note the two marriages (wives Margaret and Irene):

  • Ancestry has the Native American Citizens and Freedmen of Five Civilized Tribes ("Dawes Rolls"). Listed under minor children and dated October 15, 1906 is 3 year old Carl Mathews, 1/8 Cherokee, residing in Oklahoma, census card number 352.
  • 1910 census - the death certificate on Carl Mathews lists his father as Sam Mathews. Living in Muskogee, Oklahoma are 28 year old Sam Mathews (born Oklahoma), his 25 year old wife Hattie (born Oklahoma), their 7 year old son Carl (born Oklahoma), and Sam's brother and sister-in-law, Alex and Alice Mathews: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MLQK-6YD
    Ancestry had the 1910 census takers worksheet - the Mathews family is renting in Muskogee, Oklahoma, but I could not decipher their address. Father Sam Mathews' occupation is "butcher".
  • Ancestry had a ships crew list record - 21 year old Carl Mathews (born Oklahoma) is a member of the 1924 crew of the steamship America departing New York to Bremen, Germany via Plymouth, England and Cherbourg, France. His job is either "C. P." or "C. F." and next of kin is Mathews, 544 5th Street, Muskogee, Oklahoma.
  • 1930 census - 27 year old Carl D. Matthews [sic] (born Oklahoma), 23 year old wife Margaret E. (born Missouri), and newborn son Carl D. Matthews Jr. (born Oklahoma) are living in Muskogee, Oklahoma. The race of father and son is "Indian", and Margaret is "Mexican": https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XCW6-BNQ
    Ancestry had the 1930 census takers worksheet - the family is renting in Muscogee, Oklahoma but I could not decipher their street address. The race of father and son is "IN" (meaning Indian) and "Cherokee", and Margaret is "Mexican". Carl's occupation is "Switchman-Steam Railroad"; and he replied "Yes" and "WW" (meaning World War I) to the question about being a veteran.
  • 1940 census - 37 year old Carl Dave Mathews (born Oklahoma) and 30 year old wife Irene (born California) reside in Los Angeles: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K9CX-287
    1940 census takers worksheet - Carl Dave Mathews and wife Irene are renting at either 823 or 825 Gower Street, Los Angeles. His occupation is "Actor-Motion Picture Studio", and in 1939, he worked 25 weeks and earned $1800.00. Irene's occupation is "Cosmotologist-Beauty Salon": https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-27797-3369-37?cc=2000219
  • 1940 census - in Muskogee, Oklahoma are Carl's first wife, 33 year old Margaret Matthews [sic] (born Missouri; divorced), and 10 year old son Carl David Matthews Jr. (born Oklahoma). They are living with her parents, George Thos. Ward and Elizabeth Ward: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VBVB-LJ5
    1940 census takers worksheet: Margaret is divorced; she and Carl Jr. resided in Los Angeles in 1935; and her occupation is "Telephone Operator - Telephone Co.": https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-27773-2488-19?cc=2000219
  • Death certificate: Carl Davis Mathews was born February 19, 1899 in Oklahoma. His home address was 5311 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles; he was divorced; not a military veteran; occupation was "Actor" and employer was ZIV TV Productions. He passed away on May 3, 1959 at the Los Angeles County General Hospital, 1200 North State Street, Los Angeles. An autopsy was performed and cause of death was blood loss from anemia, ruptured esophageal varices, and cirrhosis. Funeral director was Pierce Bros. Hollywood and Mathews was cremated with interment at Chapel of the Pines. Death certificate informant was Pete Mathews, 11462 Arminta Street, North Hollywood.
    (There is a family tree on Ancestry and it appears that Carl Jr.'s nickname was "Pete". ZIV was the production company doing the Cisco Kid TV programs.)
  • The May 5, 1959 edition of the Los Angeles Times newspaper had a funeral notice but no relatives or friends were listed. Excerpt: "MATHEWS Carl D. ... Services Wednesday at Pierce Brothers' Hollywoood ...".
  • The California Death Index mirrors the death certificate: Carl Davis Mathews, born 2/19/1899 in Oklahoma, and he passed away on 5/3/1959. I'm assuming his family did not file a burial claim with Social Security since there is no corresponding record in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).

Info on the Dawes Rolls (or Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, or Dawes Commission of Final Rolls): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawes_Rolls



Carl Mathews - early film roles

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from left to right are Carl Mathews, Pat Harmon, Barney Furey and Benny Corbett in a lobby card from the Kane Richmond mountie adventure SILENT CODE (International/Stage & Screen, 1935).



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is a lobby card and crop/blowup from Chapter 10 of THE BLACK COIN (Weiss/Stage & Screen, 1936). From left to right in the crop/blowup are Robert Walker, bartender William Desmond, Robert Frazer, Roger Williams and Carl Mathews.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Ken Maynard has the drop on Carl Mathews (dark hat), Sherry Tansey (light blue shirt), and kneeling is Dave O'Brien. Lobby card from Maynard's PHANTOM RANCHER (Colony, 1940).


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