John Matusnak: The real ‘Sloth’ Fratelli


The Goonies. Everyone’s seen that film right? To most, its characters are forever etched onto our brain. A group of kids in the ‘Goons Dock’ area of Oregon go searching for pirate treasure in order to save their parents homes from demolition, but along the way uncover the hideout of escaped convicts ‘The Fratellis’. One of the most frightening characters in the film – or at least when I was little – has to be Sloth Fratelli, a disfigured chap who The Fratellis keep in the basement, who eventually turns on his family to help the kids and becomes a kind of anti-hero by the end of the film.

The guy that plays him is a pretty big fella – 6″8. The pretty big fella is John Matusnak, and unbeknown to me until recently, he wasn’t always an actor (If you could call it that.)

John Matusnak was a professional American Football player for the NFL in the 70’s. He played lineback defensive for the Oakland Raiders for most of his career before retiring after winning his 2nd Superbowl with them  in 1981. His talent on the pitch however was often overshadowed by his infamous partying and substance abuse (Sports Illustrated voted him #5 in the games All Time Bad Boys in 2005). He also entered the Worlds Strongest Man in 78 coming in ninth. 

In the 80’s he got into acting starring in movies such as The Caveman and One Crazy Summer, and small parts in Tv shows such as The A Team, Miami Vice, The Dukes Of Hazzard and Cheers, but it was his role in 1985 as Sloth in The Goonies that he’s probably best remembered for.

Tragically in 1989 at the age of 38 he died of suspected Heart Failure in California. His death was caused by an overdose of dextropropoxyphene (a dextrowhat? a kind of painkiller) although cocaine was found in his system and pneumonia was also thought to be a contributing cause to his untimely demise.

However his memory lives on as Sloth, scaring kids forever more. Jo was also a proud beard owner, so that makes him even more awesome.


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