Al Matthews, 'Aliens' and 'Superman III' Star, Dies at 75

Al Matthews, a real-life U.S. Marine who portrayed Sgt. Apone onscreen in the sci-fi horror movie Aliens, died Saturday. He was 75.

al-matthews_getty-George Wilkes Archive : Contributor
(Photo: George Wilkes Archive / Contributor / Getty)

Matthews, who also appeared in Superman III (1983), The Fifth Element (1997) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), was found dead in his home in Alicante on Spain's Mediterranean coast Saturday at 10 p.m. local time by a neighbor, Spanish international news agency EFE reports.

Matthews also had bit parts in Rough Cut (1980) and Ragtime (1981).

Decades after Alien's success, Matthews reprised his role from the James Cameron 1986 movie for the 2013 video game Aliens: Colonel Marines and inspired the character of Avery Johnson in the game franchise hit Halo.

The Vietnam War veteran retired in Spain in 2005. Details about his death were not immediately available, although officials have ordered an autopsy to determine the cause.

El País reports that a neighbor called emergency services upon finding Matthews, who was confirmed dead by emergency services when they arrived.

Although he retired more than 10 years ago, his final film was this year's western movie The Price of Death, which is currently in post-production.

Born in Brooklyn in 1942, Matthews held 13 combat awards and decorations, including two purple heart awards, according to his website. "I was the first black Marine in the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam to be meritoriously promoted to the rank of sergeant," the site continues.

He once talked about his time portraying a Marine in Alien, saying he taught the other actors on set how to act like one. "Yes, I was the only person in the movie not pretending to be a Marine; in fact, I taught the other actors how to look and act. Mr. Cameron was pleased with my input. He said he had no idea I was that good; had he known, my part would have been bigger," he said at the time.

In Alien, viewers see Matthews' Apone shouting instructions through a cigar to his drowsy crew of the USS Sulaco.

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"All right, sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed? Another glorious day in the Corps. A day in the Marine Corps is like a day on the farm. Every meal's a banquet. Every paycheck a fortune. Every formation a parade. I LOVE the Corps!" Sgt. Apone says.

Matthews also had a strong career in the United Kingdom, where he appeared on Grange Hill as the father of Benny Green. His song "Fool" reached no. 16 in the UK Singles Chart in 1975. He also hosted a radio show on BBC Radio 1.