William Kerwin

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William Kerwin
William Kerwin.jpg
Born(1927-04-17)April 17, 1927
San Diego, California, United States
DiedOctober 27, 1989(1989-10-27) (aged 62)
Hollywood, Florida, United States
Cause of deathHeart attack
Other namesThomas Sweetwood
Thomas Wood
Rooney Kerwin
Known forKnown for character roles in the films of Herschell Gordon Lewis
Spouse(s)Hanna Hertelendy (1952-1958)
Connie Mason (1964-1989)
FamilyHarry Kerwin (brother)

William Kerwin (April 17, 1927 - October 27, 1989)[1] was an American actor and filmmaker. He was most well known for his character roles in the films of Herschell Gordon Lewis. [2]


Kerwin enjoyed some success on the stage and screen before being discovered by Herschell Gordon Lewis through the promotional short Carving Magic. His first feature film with Lewis was Living Venus, and he went on to star in some of the director’s best known works such as Blood Feast.

In addition to playing principal roles, Kerwin served variously as the assistant director, makeup technician, gaffer, key grip and propman for Lewis’ films.[3] Kerwin was thus often involved in creating the gory practical effects that would become Lewis’ trademark.

Whether working with Lewis or other directors, Kerwin was closely associated with the exploitation film movement. In particular, he was known for work in nudist films and splatter films.

Throughout his career, Kerwin often performed under pseudonyms such as Thomas Wood in order to appear in non-union productions. He was registered with the Screen Actors Guild under the name Willam Kerwin.[4]

Personal Life

Kerwin’s first marriage was to actress Hanna Hertelendy from 1952 to 1958. Kerwin had one daughter from his marriage to Hertelendy, costume designer Barbara Kerwin.[5]

In 1964, Kerwin married Connie Mason, who he met while filming Blood Feast.The couple had two daughters, Denise and Kim,and remained married until Kerwin’s death in 1989.

Kerwin was the brother of director Harry Kerwin and appeared in several of his films throughout the 1970s including God’s Bloody Acre, Barracuda and Tomcats.

All three of Kerwin’s daughters pursued film careers for at least a decade.[6][7][8] Half-sisters Barbara and Kim Kerwin had bit roles in Herschell Gordon Lewis’ The Gruesome Twosome (1967 film)|The Gruesome Twosome[9] as children; William Kerwin himself did not appear in this movie. Both girls also collaborated with their uncle Harry Kerwin; Barbara had a small role in Sweet Bird of Aquarius while Kim acted in Cheering Section.[10] Denise, William Kerwin’s youngest daughter, is the only of the three to never work with Lewis or Harry Kerwin during her acting career.



Year Title Role Notes References
1959 Carving Magic[11] Joe Short promotional film sponsored by Swift & Company. [2]
1961 The Long Rope Steve Matthews [12]
1963 Blood Feast Det. Pete Thornton Credited as Thomas Wood [13]
1963 Goldilocks and the Three Bares Tommy Sweetwood Credited as Tommy Sweetwood [14]
1964 Two Thousand Maniacs! Tom White Credited as Thomas Wood [15]
1967 A Taste of Blood Dr. Hank Tyson Credited as Thomas Wood [16]
1968 Suburban Roulette Marty Conley Credited as Thomas Wood
1969 Childish Things Mr. Sullivan [17]
1971 Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things Lead Detective Credited as Thomas Wood [18]
1974 Impulse Soldier [19]
1976 No Way Back [20]
1977 Tomcats Detective Tom Garrett Credited as Thomas Dowling [21]
1978 Barracuda Sheriff Ben Williams [22]
1981 Absence of Malice Walker Credited as Rooney Kerwin [23]
1985 The Heavenly Kid Suburbaner Credited as Rooney Kerwin [24]


Year Title Role Notes References
1958 Adventures of Wild Bill Hickock Tom 5 episodes [25]
1982 Romance Theatre Jacob 5 episodes

In the media


External links


  1. "Rooney Kerwin (1927-1989) - Find A Grave".
  2. 2.0 2.1 "William Kerwin".
  3. Eyman, Scott (16 September 1984). "Killer B's". Fort Lauderdale News.
  4. Edwards, Matthew (2018). Film Out of Bounds: Essays and Interviews on Non-Mainstream Cinema Worldwide. McFarland. p. 47.
  5. "Hanna Hertelendy (1919-2008) - Find A Grave".
  6. "Barbara Kerwin".
  7. "Denise Kerwin".
  8. "Kim Kerwin".
  9. The Gruesome Twosome (1967) - IMDb
  10. "Cheering Section (1977)".
  11. "Carving Magic".
  12. https://rarefilmm.com/2019/07/the-long-rope-1961/
  13. https://www.rogerebert.com/balder-and-dash/blood-feast-digging-into-the-guts-of-the-very-first-splatter-film
  14. https://www.grindhousedatabase.com/index.php/Goldilocks_and_The_Three_Bares
  15. https://www.arrowvideo.com/product/two-thousand-maniacs/889
  16. https://www.moviefone.com/movie/a-taste-of-blood/1076559/main/
  17. https://rarefilmm.com/2019/04/childish-things-1969/
  18. https://www.mondo-digital.com/auntmartha.html
  19. https://www.grindhousedatabase.com/index.php/Impulse
  20. https://www.grindhousedatabase.com/index.php/No_Way_Back
  21. http://www.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/40289/TOMCATS-1977/
  22. https://www.thefilmyap.com/movies/barracuda-1978/
  23. https://www.tvguide.com/movies/absence-of-malice/cast/100633/
  24. https://www.tvguide.com/movies/the-heavenly-kid/cast/125752/
  25. Chance, Norman (2011). Who was Who on TV, Volume 3. Xlibris Corporation.

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