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Melvin Richard Matthews
November 7, 1940
Oakland, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, director, scholar|
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. (February 2018)
Melvin Richard Matthews was born in Oakland, California. He initially aspired to become a Roman Catholic priest, studying in San Francisco and then at Gregorian University in Rome in the 1960s. However, his growing interest in drama led him to the Juilliard School, where he taught, among others, Kevin Kline and Patti LuPone.
He acted and taught at the American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco where Annette Bening was one of his students. He also attended graduate school at New York University. He is an Emeritus Professor of English at California State University, East Bay in Hayward, California.
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He began his stage career in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area, appearing in both the Marin and California Shakespeare Festivals, eventually becoming a member of the acting ensemble of the American Conservatory Theater. In the late 1980s, settling permanently in Los Angeles, Matthews began guest-starring in television series and appearing in films. He starred in series such as Down Home, Soul Man and, most successfully, The Jeff Foxworthy Show.
In 1989 he starred in the preshow for EPCOT Center's Body Wars attraction in The Wonders Of Life Pavilion. He also has made many guest appearances on television, including Remington Steele, Dallas, Murder She Wrote, L.A. Law, The Nanny, True Blood, Just Shoot Me!, Star Trek: Voyager, The West Wing, Gilmore Girls (as Headmaster Charleston), Ally McBeal, Coach, The Practice, Who's the Boss?, Charmed, Diagnosis Murder, The King of Queens (as Doug Heffernan's father Joe), NYPD Blue, Desperate Housewives (appearing in every Season except 5 as Reverend Sykes), House M.D. (appearing in 2004 in "Damned If You Do" the 5th episode of the 1st season playing the role of Marvin/Santa Claus), The Big Bang Theory as Santa (season 6 episode 11), Blue Bloods (as of 2016 appearing in "Help Me Help You" the 16th episode of the 6th season playing the role of Judge Wilson), Two and a Half Men, and Carnivàle.
Matthews has appeared in more than 25 feature films, including Nuts, Like Father Like Son, Clean and Sober, Thirteen Days, Funny Farm, True Grit (as Colonel Stonehill), Steven Spielberg's' Lincoln, Flubber, and Zero Charisma. He played the role of Col. Cochrane in Child's Play 3, where he is later murdered . He also appeared in a number of television movies, including And the Band Played On, Baby M, and White Mile.
As a stage actor, he is known for his many Shakespearean roles, especially King Lear, Bottom, and Falstaff, and most recently for his portrayals of C. S. Lewis in South Coast Repertory's Shadowlands, as "Warwick" in Shakespeare's Henry IV at the Lincoln Center Theater, as "Undershaft" in Major Barbara and "Tarleton" in Misalliance for South Coast Repertory, as "The Fixer" in Water and Power for the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, as "Leonato" in Shakespeare Center L.A.'s production of Much Ado About Nothing with Helen Hunt, as "Cardinal Wolsey" in A Man For All Seasons with Frank Langella at the Roundabout, and as "Senator Carlin" in Gore Vidal's The Best Man on Broadway.
He is also a playwright, director, and theater scholar who has published books and articles on Shakespeare and translations of 17th-century Spanish theater. He has been a dramaturg on numerous theatrical productions, including the 2005 Broadway revival of Julius Caesar starring Denzel Washington and the 2003 revival of Henry IV, winning a Drama Desk Award Special Award for his adaptation of the latter.
Matthews was also Artistic Director of the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival, the California Actors Theatre, The Antaeus Theatre Company (which he co-founded in 1991), and the Andak Stage Company; he is an Associate Artist of the Old Globe Theatre; and a founding member of the John Houseman's The Acting Company and Sam Mendes' Bridge Project.
Matthews appeared in the 2009 world tour of The Bridge Project as "Pishchick" in The Cherry Orchard and "Antigonus" in The Winter's Tale. In the 2011 summer season of The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park, he performed as "the Provost" in Measure for Measure and "Lafew" in All's Well That Ends Well. and as "Sir Humphrey" in the American premiere of Yes Prime Minister at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. He was nominated for an Ovation Award for Book and Lyrics of an original musical entitled Liberty Inn, which he co-wrote with B. T. Ryback.
In 2011, his verse translation of The Capulets & The Montagues played at the Andak Stage Company and the International Siglo de Oro Festival, winning the L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Adaptation. Matthews appeared twice as Santa Claus in The Big Bang Theory season 6 episode, "The Santa Simulation" and season 8 episode "The Clean Room Infiltration".
He was the dramaturg for the Lincoln Center production of Macbeth (2013), directed by Jack O'Brien and starring Ethan Hawke. He appeared as "Richard Russell" in Robert Schenkkan's award-winning L.B.J. play All The Way, starring Bryan Cranston, at A.R.T. in Cambridge in September 2013.
He appeared as "Mickey Goldmill" in the Broadway musical Rocky the Musical in 2014, then in 2015, he went on to play Winston Churchill opposite Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in Peter Morgan's The Audience on Broadway. Matthews portrayed Judge Byers in the 2015 film Bridge of Spies. He originated the role "Joe" in the musical Waitress that opened on Broadway in April 2016.
|1985||Remington Steele||Michael Fleming|
|1987||Easy Street||Tim Weathergate|
|Matlock||Prosecutor||Episode: "The People vs. Matlock"|
|Like Father Like Son||Old Man Morrison|
|1987–1989||My Two Dads||Herb Kelcher|
|Permanent Record||Mr. McBain|
|Funny Farm||Marion Corey Jr|
|Clean and Sober||Bob|
|Something Is Out There||Agent Simon|
|Dear John USA||David Hennessey|
|1989||Naked Lie||Adam Berger|
|American Playhouse||Sam Mitgang|
|Guts and Glory: The Rise and Fall of Oliver North||Edwin Meese||TV movie|
|Out on the Edge||Dr. Cutler|
|Wired||Washington Post Editor|
|The Fabulous Baker Boys||Charlie|
|Body Wars||Mission Commander|
|Cross of Fire||Hiram Evans|
|Christine Cromwell||Carter Dickinson III|
|My Brother's Wife||Charles Rusher||TV movie|
|1989–1991||Doctor Doctor||Dr. Harold Stratford|
|1990||Blind Faith||Uncle Gene|
|Ghost Dad||Mr. Seymour|
|Fine Things||Judge Aaron S. Mitofsky|
|1990–1991||Down Home||Walt McCrorey|
|1991||The Whereabouts of Jenny||Cox||TV movie|
|Eve of Destruction||Singleton|
|Who's the Boss?||Judge|
|The Perfect Tribute||Dr. Thomas|
|White Hot: The Mysterious Murder of Thelma Todd||D. A. Buron Fitts||TV movie|
|Child's Play 3||Colonel Cohcrane|
|...And Then She Was Gone||Francis Haynes||TV movie|
|The Company||Director Waugh||TV movie|
|1991–1992||Drexell's Class||Roscoe Davis||TV movie|
|1992||Murder without Motive: The Edmund Parry Story||Howards||TV movie|
|For Richer, for Poorer||Larry||TV movie|
|Grave Secrets: The Legacy of Hilltop Drive||Attorney||TV movie|
|Revolver||Tom McCall||TV movie|
|Criminal Behavior||Albee Ferguson||TV movie|
|1993||The Temp||Dr. Feldman|
|1994||The Swan Princess||King William (voice)|
|1998||The Siege||Senator Wright|
|1999||Star Trek: Voyager||Admiral Patterson||Episode: "Relativity"|
|2000-2007||Gilmore Girls||Headmaster Charleston|
|2002||Charmed||Angel of Destiny|
|2003||The Fighting Temptations||Mr. Fairchild|
|2004-2012||Desperate Housewives||Reverend Sikes||9 episodes|
|2010||Parks and Recreation||David Moser||Episode: “Summer Catalog”|
|2010||True Grit||Colonel Stonehill|
|2011||Two and a Half Men||Father Shaunassey||Episode: “That Darn Priest”|
|2012||Lincoln||Secretary John Palmer Usher|
|2012||Big Bang Theory||Santa|
|2013||Mr. Box Office||Ernie||TV Series|
|2015||Bridge of Spies||Judge Byers|
|2016||Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life||Headmaster Charleston|
- According to the State of California. California Birth Index, 1905-1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. At Ancestry.com
- Miller, Daryl H. "A Commanding Stage Presence" Los Angeles Times, July 5, 1998
- '"Julius Caesar' Broadway" ibdb.com, accessed February 17, 2016
- "'Henry IV' Broadway" ibdb.com, accessed February 17, 2016
- BWW News Desk (2 March 2017). "Antaeus Theatre Company Unveils Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center". Broadway World. Wisdom Digital Media. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
- "Tickets". shakespeareinthepark.org.
- "Tickets". shakespeareinthepark.org.
- "'Macbeth' Broadway" ibdb.com, accessed February 17, 2016
- Hetrick, Adam. "Bryan Cranston Is Lyndon B. Johnson in 'All The Way', Premiering Sept. 13 at the American Repertory Theater" playbill.com, September 13, 2013
- "'Rocky' Broadway" playbillvault.com, accessed February 17, 2016
- "'Waitress' Broadway" playbillvault.com, accessed February 17, 2016