Matt Cimber

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Matt Cimber
Thomas Vitale Ottaviano

1936 (1936)
Other namesGary Harper
Matteo Ottaviano
Rinehart Segway
(m. 1964; div. 1966)

Christy Hanak
(m. 1967–1988)
Lynn Fero
(m. 1987)

Matt Cimber (born Thomas Vitale Ottaviano; 1936)[1][2][3] is an American producer, director, writer, and occasional actor in films, television, and theatre. He is known for directing genre films including The Candy Tangerine Man, The Witch Who Came from the Sea, Hundra, and the controversial drama Butterfly. Cimber has been called "an unsung hero of 70s exploitation cinema.[4]" He was co-founder and director of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW) professional wrestling promotion and syndicated television series.[5][6][7] Cimber was also the last husband of actress Jayne Mansfield, directing her on stage and in the film Single Room Furnished (1968), which was released after her death.[8]



Cimber began his directing career in the early 1960s at the Londonderry Theater Workshop in Vermont, followed by Off-Broadway plays including Young and Beautiful, an adaptation of the short stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald,[9] the U.S. premiere of works by Jean Cocteau (Antigone, Orphee, The Holy Terrors, Intimate Relations), as well as The Little Hut, The Voice of the Turtle, The Ignorants Abroad, and The Moon is Blue.[10][11][12][13]

In addition, he adapted John Steinbeck's Burning Bright, introducing future Academy Award winner Sandy Dennis to audiences.[14]

Regionally, Cimber's credits include The Country Girl, Send Me No Flowers, Susan Slept Here, and The Tender Trap[15][16][17][18].

Matt Cimber with his wife Jayne Mansfield, their newborn son and her four other children (1965)

He met his future wife, Jayne Mansfield, while directing a 1964 revival of William Inge's Bus Stop, and would direct and occasionally co-star with her in The Rabbit Habit and Champagne Complex[19].[20] Another of Cimber's Off-Broadway credits, Walk-Up,[21] would be adapted as a film vehicle for Mansfield, Single Room Furnished.


Cimber made his cinematic directorial debut (credited as "Matteo Ottaviano")[1][22] with Single Room Furnished (1966[23]). The film was noted for its cinematography by László Kovács, a pioneer of the "American New Wave" films of the 1970s, an introduction by Walter Winchell, and Mansfield "in some surprisingly moving moments[24]" in what would be her last principal role onscreen.

Cimber proceeded to direct a string of "sexploitation films" under the pseudonyms "Gary Harper" and "Rinehart Segway," including Man and Wife (1969), Sex and Astrology (1971), and The Sensually Liberated Female (1970), which was based on a best-selling book, The Sensuous Woman by Joan Garrity.[25]

Cimber helmed three "Blaxploitation films" of the mid-70s: The Black Six (1973), Lady Cocoa (1975) starring Lola Falana, and The Candy Tangerine Man (1975), the last of which Samuel L. Jackson and Quentin Tarantino have cited among their favorite films.[26][27][25][28]

In 1976, Cimber ventured into psychological thrillers with The Witch Who Came from the Sea, starring Millie Perkins and Lonny Chapman, with cinematography by Oscar nominee Dean Cundey.[25][4][29] Vice Magazine cited it "One of the Top 10 Greatest Banned Films" and "a bit of a masterpiece[30]" and review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes voted it one of "90 Best '70s Horror Films.[31]"

Cimber's next film, A Time to Die, was a World War II thriller based on a novel by The Godfather's Mario Puzo starring Rod Taylor and Rex Harrison is his final screen performance. The film was shot in 1979 and released in 1982.

In 1982, Cimber teamed with Pia Zadora on the "handsomely produced and swiftly directed" caper film Fake-Out, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and also starred Telly Savalas and Desi Arnaz, Jr.,[32] and the crime drama Butterfly, featuring Orson Welles and Stacy Keach, based on the novel The Butterfly by James M. Cain. Welles and composer Ennio Moriccone were nominated for Golden Globe Awards, as was Zadora, who won the Golden Globe Award for Best Female Newcomer for her performance. This was followed by allegations that the award had been "bought" by her husband, Meshulam Riklis.[25]

The following year, Cimber collaborated with actress Laurene Landon on the adventure films Hundra, which also premiered at Cannes and featured a score by Ennio Moriccone,[33] and Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold.


In 1986, Cimber co-created GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, and served as executive producer and director of the syndicated television program. The show lasted for four seasons. It later inspired the fictionalized Netflix series GLOW. On that series, the character played by Marc Maron is inspired by Cimber.[34]

Later career[edit]

Cimber wrote and directed the documentaries An American Icon: Coca-Cola, The Early Years (1997) and The History of United Nations (1996). He created and wrote the eight-minute intro for visitors to the United Nations, for which he received a special commendation from the U.N.

After a 20-year absence from feature films, he wrote and directed Miriam (2006), based on the real-life story of Holocaust survivor Miriam Schafer. According to reviews, Ariana Savalas as Schafer offered "a powerful performance" in "a forgotten piece of history worth recounting.".[35][36][37]

Personal life[edit]

Cimber married Jayne Mansfield in 1964 and managed her career during their marriage.[38] They had one son, Antonio ("Tony", b. 1965) and divorced in 1966.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Cimber's Butterfly was nominated for three Golden Raspberry Awards; Worst Picture, Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay.


Year Title Dir. Pro. Wri. Notes
1968 Single Room Furnished Yes Yes Credited as Matteo Ottaviano
1969 Man & Wife: An Educational Film for Married Adults[39] Yes Credited as Gary Harper
1970 Africanus Sexualis (Black Is Beautiful) Yes Yes
He & She[40] Yes
The Sexually Liberated Female[41] Yes Yes Yes
1971 Sex and Astrology Yes Yes Credited as Rinehart Segway
Calliope Yes Yes Credited as Gary Harper
1974 The Black Six Yes Yes Yes
1975 That Girl from Boston Yes Yes
Gemini Affair Yes Yes
Lady Cocoa Yes Yes
Alias Big Cherry Yes Yes
The Candy Tangerine Man Yes Yes
1976 The Witch Who Came from the Sea Yes Yes
1979 Do It In the Dirt Yes
1982 Butterfly Yes Yes Yes Nominated:
Fake-Out Yes Yes Yes
A Time to Die Yes Yes with Joe Tornatore
1983 Hundra Yes Yes
1984 Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold Yes Yes
1986-89 Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling Yes Yes As co-creator
Television series - 108 episodes
2006 Miriam Yes Yes Yes
2008 Peace for Profit Yes Documentary film


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  2. ^ Parish, James Robert (20 December 2010). The Hollywood Book of Breakups. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781118040676.
  3. ^ Strait, Raymond (1 January 1992). Here They Are Jayne Mansfield. SP Books. ISBN 9781561711468.
  4. ^ a b "Now on Blu-ray: THE CANDY TANGERINE MAN & LADY COCOA, a Blaxploitation Double from Matt Cimber". ScreenAnarchy. 28 August 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  5. ^ "The Real Women of 'GLOW' Told Us the Sexist BS They Dealt with in the 80s". Vice. 27 June 2018. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  6. ^ O'Keeffe, Jack. "'GLOW's Director Has A Complicated Legacy". Bustle. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  7. ^ Higgins, Bill (22 June 2017). "Hollywood Flashback: GLOW Smashed Pro Wrestling's Glass Ceiling in 1986". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  8. ^ Golden, Eve (2021). Jayne Mansfield: The Girl Couldn't Help It. University Press of Kentucky. p. 303. ISBN 978-0813180977.
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  10. ^ Anby (1 June 1960). "Legitimate Off Broadway Reviews". Variety. 219 (1): 72 – via Variety Archives.
  11. ^ Kali (5 July 1961). "Legitimate Off Broadway Reviews". Variety. 223 (6): 58 – via Variety Archives.
  12. ^ Jaal (2 August 1961). "Legitimate Off Broadway Reviews". Variety. 223 (10): 94 – via Variety Archives.
  13. ^ Ster (23 August 1961). "Legitimate Off Broadway Reviews". Variety. 233 (13): 57 – via Variety Archives.
  14. ^ Uncredited (5 August 1959). "Legitimate Off-Broadway Reviews". Variety. 215 (1) – via Variety Archives.
  15. ^ Decker, Doty (6 September 1963). "Capsule Reviews: Send Me No Flowers". Backstage. 4 (32): 9 – via ProQuest.
  16. ^ Harris, Judith Gayle (23 August 1963). "Capsule Reviews: The Country Girl". Backstage. 30 (4): 6 – via ProQuest.
  17. ^ Jaal (9 September 1961). "Legitimate Off Broadway Reviews". Variety. 234 (2): 54, 58 – via Variety Archvies.
  18. ^ Uncredited (19 July 1961). "Legitimate Off Broadway Reviews". Variety. 223 (8): 56 – via Variety Archives.
  19. ^ Young (8 December 1965). "Legit Shows Out-of-Town". Variety. 241 (3): 68 – via Variety Archives.
  20. ^ Frymer, Murray (20 January 1965). "Even Unclad Mansfield Doesn't Help Old Show". Newsday (Suffolk Edition): 81 – via
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  22. ^ Ferruccio, Frank; Santroni, Damien (1 January 2010). Did Success Spoil Jayne Mansfield?: Her Life in Pictures and Text. Frank Ferruccio. ISBN 9781432761233.
  23. ^ Single Room Furnished (1966) - IMDb, retrieved 9 March 2023
  24. ^ Smith, Liz (28 June 2006). "Madonna getting animated". Variety. Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  25. ^ a b c d "From Abel Ferrara to Wes Craven: The Mainstream Directors Who Dabbled in Porn". 11 May 2022. Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  26. ^ "Matt Cimber: Grindhouse Specialist - The Grindhouse Cinema Database". Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  27. ^ "The Candy Tangerine Man / Lady Cocoa".
  28. ^ "These 'Gorgeous' ladies were the true pioneers of women's wrestling". New York Post. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  29. ^ Shields, Meg (19 April 2022). "Movies Like Gerald's Game That Will Thrill Any Horror Fan - Looper". Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  30. ^ "The Top 10 Greatest Banned Films". Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  31. ^ "The 96 Best Horror Movies of the 1970s". Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  32. ^ Kell. (26 May 1982). "In Cannes Critics' Week". Daily Variety: 17 – via Variety Archives.
  33. ^ Klad (23 May 1984). "CANNES FILM FESTIVAL REVIEWS: Hundra". Variety. 4 (315): 22. ProQuest 1438410793 – via Variety Archives.
  34. ^ O'Keeffe, Jack (22 June 2017). "'GLOW's Director Has A Complicated Legacy". Bustle. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  35. ^ AP; AP (19 June 2007). "Miriam". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  36. ^ Beer, Tom. "Miriam". Time Out Worldwide. Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  37. ^ "Miriam". Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  38. ^ "Tour Jayne Mansfield's Mediterranean-Style Home in Los Angeles". Architectural Digest. 25 August 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  39. ^ "Man & Wife: An Educational Film for Married Adults (1969) - IMDb". IMDb.
  40. ^ "He & She (1970) - IMDb". IMDb.
  41. ^ "The Sensually Liberated Female (1970) - IMDb". IMDb.

External links[edit]