There's news today from Boot Hill that dancer Matt Mattox has passed away at the age of 91. (Via Speakeasy.)
Mattox, who was born in Oklahoma in 1921, was one of the amazing dancers who starred in my favorite film, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954). Mattox played the third brother, Caleb. Here he is airborne in a classic moment:
That still was on my bedroom wall for many years when I was a teen and college student!
Mattox was also front and center in the great dance "Lonesome Polecat":
Here's Matt with Ruta Lee (billed in the film as Ruta Kilmonis):
Although SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS was released close to six decades ago, Mattox is only the fourth of the 14 lead cast members to pass away, following Howard Keel (who passed on in 2004), Jeff Richards (died 1989), and Betty Carr (who I paid tribute to when she passed on in 2008).
As a matter of fact, Russ Tamblyn, who played the youngest brother, Gideon, will be appearing at a screening of GUN CRAZY (1950) next week at UCLA's Festival of Preservation. I'll be sharing more information about the festival here in the near future. (Update: 2013 Festival of Preservation Opens at UCLA.)
Mattox's obituary at Boot Hill reads as though it may have been autotranslated from a French source. I was interested to learn he served in WWII as a fighter pilot. He passed away February 18th in France, where he lived with his wife, and a funeral Mass took place today.
I'm deeply grateful to Matt Mattox for the joy his work in SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS has brought me over the years.
Update: The Los Angeles Times has published an excellent obituary. Mattox was teaching dance until he was nearly 90!