|Matterly dropped out of Trenton State College his freshman year to pursue a career on the New York stage. In 1966, after his mother called in a favor from a friend, he was admitted to Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio where he would rub elbows with such future screen legends as Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and, upon occasion, recent graduate Dustin Hoffman. A fanatical proponent of method acting, he would sometimes frighten and alienate his fellow students with the extreme lengths he would go to get into character. Matterly once wore a prosthetic nose for over a month to prepare for a production of Cyrano de Bergerac.|
But it was his star turn in the British farce Come Again? (1972), that attracted the attention of Hal Molloy, producer of the television daily serial A Brighter Dawn. Molloy cast Matterly as Dr. William Horgan, a heroic cardiac surgeon and sculptor. After two Byzantine seasons, Dr. Horgan was fatally electrocuted in a bizarre scuba diving accident, and Matterly moved to Los Angeles where he started appearing in small roles in such shows as Barnaby Jones, In a Family Way, Kung Fu, Parole Patrol and The Night Stalker. It was during this time that UBC President Larry Rubin, on the lookout for a fresh and exciting face, spotted Matterly playing a burnt-out gun fighter in an episode of Barbary Coast. Five months later, Matterly had hung up his Stetson, picked up an LAPD badge and taken his made-to-order place behind the wheel of Nick Kresky's yellow Mustang.
While working on Kresky, Matterly released three pop albums: the internationally successful "Portrait of a Man", the epic rock opera "Colonel Finneagan's Last Expedition to Mars" and the dismally received "What's the Matterly?". He would also direct three episodes of the series -- "Rendezvous at Devil's Canyon", "Enter Night" and the infamous " With Love, From Cantrell" -- and write an autobiography in verse No Laughing Matterly: An Autobiography In Verse.
In 1978, Matterly reportedly rewrote his official UBC bio in order to correct many of the inaccuracies contained therein. Over the intervening years, however, these contradictory accounts of his life have become so intermixed and entangled as to hopelessly muddy the waters for any would-be biographer in search of the absolute truth. While it is commonly believed to be Matterly's corrected version which describes him as "the quintessential actor's actor...whose masterful technique was forged under the white-hot lights of the New York stage...and who possesses the brooding intensity of James Dean and the animal sexuality of a young Brando", no one can be absolutely certain. Many details of his life remain shrouded in mystery by various discrepancies. Was Matterly born in 1946 or 1951? Although many point out that Matterly would have only been 15 when he joined the Actors Studio if he had been born in 1951, this still doesn't conclusively resolve the issue.
Matterly himself remains stubbornly silent on the subject. Shortly after Kresky was cancelled, the actor retreated into Garbo-like isolation on a sheep ranch in northern Montana. His complete refusal to deal with the press and fans has led to the circulation of any number of irresponsible and hurtful rumors about his lifestyle and well-being.
Chief among these rumors was the speculation that the actor had spiraled down into a serious identity crisis and believed himself to be the fictional Kresky, a theory supposedly supported by Kresky's final appearance on Cantrell wherein the detective announces that he's retiring to raise sheep on a ranch in northern Montana. But this initially eerie coincidence can be readily explained when one takes into account that Cantrell executive producer Guy Christopher was aware of Matterly's long standing plans to move to Montana and had a fondness for working inside jokes into the series.
As for the other rumors and innuendoes about the actor, each seems to be more preposterous -- and more easily discredited -- than the last. We mention the following "theories" here only in hopes that we might finally put them to rest. No, Matterly is not raising monkeys for scientific experimentation; he developed a severe skin allergy to monkeys during the last season of Kresky and can't stand to be in close proximity to them. No, he is neither a polygamist nor married to a Cambodian child bride; the actor is currently living with his self-described life partner twenty-six year old Lori Kirk, a professional rodeo rider. And no, he has not been partially paralyzed by a would-be assassin's bullet; the fully ambulatory Matterly has occasionally been spotted picking up his mail at the end of his several mile long driveway.
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