click on photo to go back ...

Appeared on radio showGeorge Mathews (Oct 10. 1911 - Nov 7. 1984)
Height: 6' 1½" (1,87 m)

Marriage (Sep. 6. 1951 - Nov 7. 1984, his death):
(1) Mary Crittenden Haynsworth
     (Sep 8. 1916 - May 6. 2011)
George Mathews as Dynamite Jim Flimmins in the 1937 Federal Theatre Project production of "Processional".
Above right: George Mathews as Dynamite Jim Flimmins in the 1937 Federal Theatre Project production of Processional.
George Joseph Mathews was born in Brooklyn on October 10. 1911. He was brought up in Manhattan and educated in Brooklyn.

After attending St. Augustine's Grammar School without theatrical training, he found the stage was his proper métier. So after 2 years in High School he began his theatre apprenticeship by working as usher at the Mercury Theatre.

Mathews really entered the theater during the Depression when he found the Post Office had no positions left. He went to work in an Italian-speaking company and then the WPA* Theater program. They produced Processional (Maxine Elliott's Theatre. Oct. 13 - Dec 1. 1937): George portrayed the character Dynamite Jim in this play by John Howard Lawson, subtitled 'A Jazz Symphony of American Life'. He talked about it all the time, it was his beginning.
George Mathews as Dynamite Jim.George (center) and Spencer Moor (R) with an uncredited actor in the same play.
Two scenes from the play Processional (Maxine Elliott's Theater, Oct. 13 - Dec. 1. 1937)
Left: George Mathews as Dynamite Jim.
Right: George (center) and Spencer Moor (R) with an uncredited actor in the same play.
Credits: Library of Congress, Music Division, Federal Theatre Project Collection.
 

In 1938 he performed in several Broadway plays:

Escape This Night (44th Street Theatre, Apr.22. - Apr. 30. 1938) as first Marine;
 
Then as a part of the Sunday evening performances of "Schoolhouse on the Lot" a group known as "Plant in the Sun company" presented the first of six Sunday evening performances at the Nora Bayes Theatre on April 24. 1938. The plays were Plant in the Sun (Ben Bengal) and
Transit (Philip Stevenson);

Finally another production by the WPA* The Big Blow** (Maxine Elliott's Theatre, Oct. 1. 1938 - Feb 1. 1939) as Deefy. The latter went on tour until after its Broadway run until April 1939.

Radio started showing interest with appearances in Fight Camp, David Harum, and other programs.

Fight Camp (WOR-Mutual, June 8. 1941 - Sep 1941) was a show with Marion Barney, Sammy Byrd, Bedelia Falls, Jerry Lesser, John Hamilton and George Mathews. This delightful tale unfolded around Ma Corbett (Blanche Ring, as of July Marion Barney), a resilient widow who expertly trains pugs with one hand while safeguarding them from her charming daughter with the other. The initial episode focuses on the widow's quest to find a skilled fighter capable of preventing her establishment from facing financial ruin. It had spots for real fighters like Billy Conn and Joe Louis.

But theatre agreed most with our actor, as the following series of plays, mostly on Broadway, in which he performed, seems to prove:

Retreat to Pleasure
(Belasco Theatre, Dec 17. 1940 - Jan 4. 1941),
Out of the Frying Pan (Windsor Theatre, Feb 11. - May 10. 1941),
The Night Before Christmas (Morosco Theatre, Apr 10. - Apr 27. 1941),
Abe Lincoln in Illinois (on tour, as Jack Armstrong)
Cuckoos on the Hearth (Morosco Theatre, Sep 16. 1941 - Jan 3. 1942),
They Should Have Stood in Bed (Mansfield Theatre, Feb 13. - Feb 21. 1942),
The Life of Reilly (Broadhurst Theatre, Apr 29. - May 2. 1942),
The Eve of St. Mark (Cort Theatre, Oct. 7 1942 - Jun 26. 1943).

(L to R) Mabel Paige as Mrs. Garnet and George Mathews as Joe in "Out of the Frying Pan" (Windsor Theatre, Feb 11, 1941 - May 10, 1941).George Mathews (middle) as 'Doc' Ferris in Cuckoos on the Hearth (Morosco Theatre, Sep 16. 1941 - Jan 3. 1942).
Above left: (L to R) Mabel Paige as Mrs. Garnet and George Mathews as Joe in Out of the Frying Pan (Windsor Theatre, Feb 11, 1941 - May 10, 1941).
Above right: George Mathews (middle) as 'Doc' Ferris in Cuckoos on the Hearth (Morosco Theatre, Sep 16. 1941 - Jan 3. 1942).

A stocky man with a heavy brow, pug nose and distinctively protruding lower lip, played toughs from a variety of eras. He appeared to great effect on stage in 1942-43 as Sgt. Ruby in The Eve of St. Mark on Broadway, a role he repeated in the film version with the same name (20th Century Fox, May 20. 1944).

Not just a one-note "plug ugly", he was equally as effective at portraying comic toughs. After his first film role, an uncredited appearance in Stage Door Canteen (United Artists, June 24. 1943) where he played a Marine Sergeant with Ray Bolger he was also in Danny Kaye's first picture Up in Arms (RKO-Radio, Feb 17. 1944).

In "Stage Door Canteen" (1943) he played a Marine Sergeant (uncredited) with Ray Bolger. Click on the photo for the clip from the movie...George Mathews, Constance Dowling part of the cast of Danny Kaye"s "Up in Arms" (1944).
Above left: In Stage Door Canteen (United Artists, June 24. 1943) he played a Marine Sergeant (uncredited) with Ray Bolger. Click on the photo for the clip from the movie...
Above right: George Mathews, Constance Dowling part of the cast of Danny Kaye"s Up in Arms (RKO-Radio, Feb 17. 1944).

George lived at 145 West 14th Street, New York which was handy given the fact that theater remained his main employer. 

The Streets Are Guarded (Henry Miller's Theatre, Nov 20. - Dec 9. 1944),
Kiss them for me
(Belsaco, Mar 20. - Jun 23. 1945),
Beggars Are Coming to Town (Coronet Theatre, Oct. 27 - Nov 17. 1945),
Antigone (Cort Theatre, Feb 18. - May 4. 1946, in the week),
Temper the Wind (Playhouse Theatre, Dec 27. 1946 - Jan 25. 1947).

Between acts he relaxed with knotty chess problems or the occasional radio appearance as in The Screen Guild Theater "Flesh And The Fantasy" (CBS, April 23. 1945) with Edward G. Robinson.

Mathews also acted in classical plays. The plays Antigone and Candida (Cort Theatre, Apr 3. - May 2. 1946, in the weekend), were performed alternately during the week. Both had, at one time, Katharine Cornell and Marlon Brando as leads. Mathews is billed as first guard in the program for Antigone (but he isn't in the cast of Candida). The duo act went on the road after their Broadway run.

Again he did some work for radio with Grand Central Station (CBS, Aug 24. 1946) and on September 4. 1946, Variety announced that George had joined the cast of the radio show Stella Dallas (NBC, Sep. 1946 -).

 

Mary Haynsworth in 1944 in field attire as Red Cross nurse.Actress Mary Haynsworth joined the Red Cross during the war (England, France, Germany). After her return to the United States in 1946, she started acting again. In  September 1947 Mary joined the Theatre, Inc. tryout tour for the show The Big People intended for Broadway. She played the character of a "little person" who was the wife of a "big person" played by George Mathews. They toured it for a few weeks out of town, then they closed the show before it even reached New York but the romance was on. They didn't marry for several years. Mary got a job working for the United Fruit Company on a banana boat going to Cuba and to Guatemala, seventeen-day cruises, which she did for three cruises, and that was enough.

Above right: Mary Haynsworth in 1944 in field attire as Red Cross nurse. (7)

 

On radio's The Adventures of Ellery Queen George played Sergeant Velie for two episodes in June 1947.  George was supposedly heard two weeks on the episodes "The Green Gorillas" and "The Sky Pirates" before Ed Latimer reclaimed the role.

Six O'Clock Theatre (Maxine Elliott's Theatre, Apr 11. - Apr 18. 1948) with three plays, George was in:
        Hope Is the Thing With Feathers,
S. S. Glencairn (City Center, May 20. - May 30. 1948),
The Silver Whistle (Biltmore Theatre, Nov. 24. 1948 - May 28. 1949).

Early on in 1949 he again turned to radio:

Mind In The Shadow (CBS, Feb 2. 1949),
The Theatre Guild On The Air (ABC, May 8. 1949) in "Of Mice and Men",
Suspense (CBS, Jun 14. 1949 - June 17. 1962, min. 5 episodes).

By the end of 1949 he then joined the Broadway cast of A Streetcar Named Desire (Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Dec 3. 1947 - Dec 17. 1949), replacing Karl Malden as Harold Mitchell or Mitch in a cast that included Uta Hagen and Anthony Quinn. He stayed with the play on its national tour. After New Haven, Conn. the tour went to Philadelphia on Dec. 26 and continued to New England and Canada. His performance garnered some critical accolades from Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times. When the play returned to New York in 1950, Brooks Atkinson not only found the part ''attractively'' but that Mathews ''...thoroughly appreciates the sincerity of this commonplace man who has a wistful dream of refinement and grandeur''

José Ferrer as Oliver Erwenter and George Mathews as Emmett in" The Silver Whistle" (Biltmore Theatre, Nov. 24. 1948 - May 28. 1949).In 1950, Mathews played the role of the captain opposite Tyrone Power in a sell-out London production of "Mister Roberts" at "the Coliseum Theatre".
Above left: José Ferrer as Oliver Erwenter and George Mathews as Emmett in The Silver Whistle (Biltmore Theatre, Nov. 24. 1948 - May 28. 1949).
Above right: In 1950, Mathews played the role of the captain opposite Tyrone Power in a sell-out London production of Mister Roberts at "The Coliseum Theatre".

After Murder By Experts (Mutual, Apr. 17. 1950) on radio, Mathews played the role of the captain Morton, the villain in the piece, opposite Tyrone Power in a sell-out London production of Mister Roberts at the Coliseum Theatre. The play was also performed in Paris (in French!) with the same cast at the Théâtre des Variétés (March 1951).

On June 6, 1951, The Brooklyn Eagle reported some changes in the cast of the comedy revival Twentieth Century (ANTA Playhouse, Fulton Theatre, Dec. 24, 1950 - Jun. 30, 1951), with George Mathews taking over the role of the press agent. Mathews portrayed the press agent, characterized by his love for flowery speech and penchant for the bottle, in a rather gruff tone. While a valid interpretation, it lacked the charm of Robert Strauss' affable portrayal.

Mary Haynsworth and George Mathews were married on September 6. 1951 in Greenville, N.C.

Helen Shields as Theodote and George Mathews as Pausanias in "Barefoot in Athens" (Martin Beck Theatre, Oct 31. - Nov 24. 1951)."Yankee Buccaneer" (1952) with (L to R) David Janssen, George Mathews, Scott Brady and Suzan Ball.
Above left: Helen Shields as Theodote and George Mathews as Pausanias in Barefoot in Athens (Martin Beck Theatre, Oct 31. - Nov 24. 1951).
Above right: Yankee Buccaneer (Universal, Sep 16. 1952) with (L to R) David Janssen, George Mathews, Scott Brady and Suzan Ball.

Barefoot in Athens (Martin Beck Theatre, Oct 31. - Nov 24. 1951).

In 1952 he played in the Spencer Tracy- Katharine Hepburn comedy Pat and Mike (MGM, June 5. 1952) and was heard on The Chase (NBC, June 1. 1952) on the radio. He was also in great demand in TV-shows such as Robert Montgomery Presents  (NBC, Dec. 15. 1952 - Sep. 10. 1956, min. 3 episodes), and Studio One (CBS, Dec. 8. 1952 - Nov. 26 1956, min. 4 episodes).

One Eye Closed (Bijou Theatre, Nov 24. - Nov 25. 1954),
The Desperate Hours (Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Feb 10. - Aug 13. 1955).

Mathews kept appearing in movies one of the most notable being The Man with the Golden Arm (United Artists, Dec 15. 1955) with Frank Sinatra.

Perhaps his most memorable role was as Harvey in "The Bensonhurst Bomber" episode of TV's The Honeymooners (CBS, Sep. 8. 1956). "The salary was $750 or $1000, which was a lot of money in the days I'm taking about," Mathews told. "I'd just gotten out of Phil Silver's show - I was called 'The Beast.' I was a tough sergeant who was going to straighten Bilko out, and he straightens me out - and when they called my agent I said, 'Well, I got so-and-so on The Phil Silvers Show and I want that on the Gleason show.' And they gave it to me."

The Beast (George Mathews) and Ernest G. 'Ernie' Bilko in "The Phil Silvers Show" (1956).Opposite Jackie Gleason (L) perhaps George Mathews (R) most memorable role was as Harvey in "The Bensonhurst Bomber" episode of TV's "The Honeymooners "(1956). Click on the photo for the clip from the movie...
Above left: The Beast (George Mathews) and Ernest G. 'Ernie' Bilko in The Phil Silvers Show (CBS, Mar. 27. 1956).
Above right: Opposite Jackie Gleason (L) in "The Bensonhurst Bomber" episode of TV's The Honeymooners (CBS, Sep 8. 1956). Click on the photo for the clip from the movie...

On the TV-show Omnibus (CBS-ABC, Oct 14. 1956) he played in segment Androcles and the Lion, an adaptation of G.B. Shaw's play).

Holiday for Lovers (Longacre Theatre, Feb 14. - May 11. 1957).

During the Brussels World's Fair (Expo '58), he helped represent American drama in The Time of Your Life. Although William Saroyan's play never had a full Broadway run, fans had another opportunity to see Franchot Tone in the role of Joe. Three years after the first production, Jean Dalrymple secured Franchot and actress Susan Strasberg for a weeklong engagement in Belgium. Also in this production were Dan Dailey and Ann Sheridan. The play opened to an audience of 1,150 socially prominent citizens (attendees were listed as commissioners and ambassadors) at the United States Pavilion Theatre on October 8, 1958. Belgian reviewers gave the performance high praise, and the cast received eight curtain calls on opening night.

The Shadow of a Gunman (Bijou Theatre, Nov 20. 1958 - Jan 3. 1959),
Triple Play (Playhouse Theatre, Apr 15. - May 16. 1959) (with Bedtime Story)
        Portrait of a Madonna,
        A Pound on Demand.

George as Abel MacDonald opposite Chuck Connors in "The Riflemen" S01E31 (April 1959).Mathews (R) as Sam Pierce opposite Anthony Quinn & Sophia Loren in Cukor's box office flop "Heller in Pink Tights" (1960).
Above left: George as Abel MacDonald opposite Chuck Connors in The Riflemen S01E31 (April 1959).
Above right: Mathews (R) as Sam Pierce opposite Anthony Quinn & Sophia Loren in Cukor's box office flop Heller in Pink Tights (1960).

Do Re Mi (St.James Theatre, Dec 26. 1960 - Jan 13. 1962).

At the Dublin International Theatre festival he played with Siobhan McKenna in Brecht's St. Joan of the Stockyards (Gate Theatre Dublin, Sep 10. 1961).

Mathews also had a recurring role in the TV comedy series Glynis (Desilu, Sep 25. - Dec 18. 1963), playing ex-cop Chick Rogers who aids and abets mystery writer and amateur sleuth Glynis Johns in solving a string of "whodunits".
Starring Glynis Johns and Keith Andes as husband and wife in the TV comedy series "Glynis" (Desilu, Sep 25. - Dec 18. 1963), Mathews also had a recurring role, playing ex-cop Chick Rogers who aids and abets mystery writer and amateur sleuth Glynis Johns in solving a string of "whodunits". Click on the photo for a clip...George Mathews as Amos Fitch in a 1966 TV episode of "Dark Shadows".
Above left: Starring Glynis Johns and Keith Andes as husband and wife in the TV comedy series Glynis (Desilu, Sep 25. - Dec 18. 1963), Mathews also had a recurring role, playing ex-cop Chick Rogers who aids and abets mystery writer and amateur sleuth Glynis Johns in solving a string of "whodunits". Click on the photo for a clip...
Above right: George Mathews as Amos Fitch in a 1966 TV episode of Dark Shadows.
Luther (St. James Theatre/Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, Sep 25. 1963 - Mar. 28. 1964),
Catch Me If You Can (Morosco Theatre, Mar 2. - Mar 9. 1965)
A Time for Singing (Broadway Theatre, May 12. - May 21. 1966),
A Joyful Noise (Mark Hellinger Theatre, Nov 28. - Dec 15. 1966),
The Great White Hope (Alvin Theatre, Oct 3. 1968 - Jan 31. 1970).

So Mathews's last role before his retirement was Captain Dan in the Broadway production of The Great White Hope. In November 1968 he started doubling into the CBS-TV daytime drama series, Love of Life. Mathews created the running role of Big Jack McCallion, a construction company foreman with the problem of raising a motherless daughter.
On the big screen, his last appearance was in Going Home (MGM, Nov. 17. 1971), an excellent film starring Robert Mitchum.

In private life, Mathews was the antithesis of the ruffians he often portrayed on screen: amicable and intelligent. Outside of his profession, he was an avid chess player and often participated in international tournaments.

He retired from the acting profession in 1971, aside from two radio stints he did for The CBS Radio Mystery Theatre (CBS, Jan 9. 1974 - Feb. 19. 1974) and in 1974 moved from New York City to Caesar's Head where they settled into the mountain community stretching between Caesar's Head and Brevard, N.C.  He died at St. Francis Community Hospital in Greenville, South Caroline of liver failure on November 7. 1984. He was 73 years old.

Mary continued to live in her mountaintop home overlooking the "Dismal" foothills with Table Rock in the distant. In 2006, Mrs. Mary Mathews moved down the mountain to spend her last years with a niece, Mary de Monerey, in Greenville, South Carolina

Mary Haynsworth Mathews, 94, died after a brief illness on Friday, May 6, 2011.
TV's "The Honeymooners " - "The Bensonhurst Bomber" Harvey the Bully and his friend Pipsqueak George (Leslie Barrett) reunited for the first time at the Honeymooners fan club convention at C.W. Post College on Long Island, May 20th, 1984. Click on the picture to see a clip from the convention... (Photo: Luigi Pelletieri)TV's "The Honeymooners " - "The Bensonhurst Bomber" Harvey the Bully and his friend Pipsqueak George (Leslie Barrett) reunited for the first time at the Honeymooners fan club convention at C.W. Post College on Long Island, May 20th, 1984. Click on the picture to see a clip from the convention...
The Honeymooners "The Bensonhurst Bomber" Harvey the Bully and his friend Pipsqueak George (Leslie Barrett) reunited for the first time at the Honeymooners fan club convention at C.W. Post College on Long Island, May 20th, 1984. George Mathews didn't own a television set during the fifties, and didn't see himself in "The Bensonhurst Bomber" until 28 years after it was filmed, when he watched the episode with the 2,300 enthusiasts at the convention. Click on the picture to see a clip from the convention... (Photo left: Luigi Pelletieri).
 
Notes:

* W.P.A. or Works Progress Administration, a government agency that provided jobs for the unemployed on public works projects during the Depression)

**Big Blow is based on the same-titled novel by Theodore Pratt (1901–1969). “Trading in his Nebraska property for some property in southern Florida, Wade Barrett builds sturdy homes which are sneered at by the local ‘crackers’ who live in shacks. They become even more suspicious when Wade befriends the African American Clay. When a hurricane wipes out all of the structures except Wade’s, the community begins to look up to him.” Wade eventually marries the daughter of the leading “cracker” who had accused Clay of raping her. In fact, Clay had been protecting her from being raped by a “cracker.


All dates for movies are for the official US release.
All dates for TV programs are original first airdates.
All dates for (radio) plays are for the time span the actor was involved.

Facts in red still need confirmation.

 
Click on Uncle Sam if you think you can help out...!  Click if you think you can help out...!

Other references
(1) Wikipedia
(2)
IMDb
(3) IBDB
(4) RUSC

(5) RadioGoldindex
(6) Playbill - Playbill
(7) Mary Haynworth Mathews Collection part of the Women Veterans
     Historical Project
(8) OTRRpedia


Additional video & audio sources
(1)
The Bensonhurst Bomber Clip of The Honeymooners S01E37
(2) Dark Shadows Full episode S01E89 1966
(3) Gunfight at the OK Corrall clip YouTube 1957
(4) Stage Door Canteen Clip YouTube 1943 Ray Bolger, George Mathews
(5) The Big Blow 1938 WNYC New York Public Radio,
an archived recording
     of the play
(6) Scott Rollins Film and TV trivia blog Oct 10. 2023
(7) Pat and Mike clip from the 1952 movie, Katharine Hepburn stands
     up to Charles Bronson & George Mathews.

 
This actor profile is a part of Ellery Queen a website on deduction. The actor above played Velie in a radio series of The Adventures of Ellery Queen. Click Uncle Sam if you think you can help out...!
Many of the profiles on this site have been compiled after very careful research of various sources. Please quote and cite ethically!


Page first published on September 16. 2017
Last updated April 26. 2024
 

b a c k    t o   L i s t  o f  S u s p e c t s


 
Introduction | Floor Plan | Q.B.I. | List of Suspects | Whodunit?  | Q.E.D. | Kill as directed | New | Copyright 

Copyright ©  MCMXCIX-MMXXIV   Ellery Queen, a website on deduction. All rights reserved.