Denise “Vanity” Mathews has Died, Who was She?


Feb 24, 2016 – Hard to believe she’s been gone for four years. The funeral for ordained minister, Denise Katrina Matthews will be held on Saturday, February 27th, 2016, 11 a.m. at 33700 Alvarado-Niles Rd, Union City, CA. The service is open to the public. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Jesus Christ for all Nations.


Denise Matthews died Feb. 15, 2016 at a hospital in Fremont, Calif. She was 57. Gisela Hernandez, spokeswoman for Washington Hospital Health Care System in Fremont, CA, confirmed her death. The cause was due to a long battle with kidney-related health problems.

As the former artist and actress known as Vanity, she performed with Prince and appeared in the films, “Klondike Fever,” “The Last Dragon,” and “Action Jackson” in the 1980s and early 1990s.

“When I was Vanity, it was all about me,” Matthews said in 1999. “But when I’m preaching the word of God, it’s Jesus Christ speaking through me.”

When she was 18-years-old, Denise Matthews was crowned “Miss Niagara Hospitality” in Ontario, Canada.

“She was very talented and beautiful,” stated Niagara Falls city councillor, Joyce Morocco who knew Matthews since she was in high school. “When she started modeling you just knew she was going to go places.”

Denise Katrina Matthews was born on Jan. 4, 1959, in Niagara Falls, Ontario. She was the daughter of Helga Senyk and James Levia Matthews. She worked as a model in Canada before moving to the United States and settling in Fremont, CA.

Twenty-three years after doctors said she had 3 days to live, the ordained minister went on to preach to millions around the country. She is her survived by her mother, Helga Senyk, and sisters, Renay Matthews, Patricia Dalton Matthews, and DeBorah Matthews-Brown.

Prior to Death

A few months prior to her death Evangelist and former Prince protege Denise “Vanity” Mathews was ill and asking for support. She said “Praise the Lord everyone this is Denise Matthews I just got out of the hospital again I’ve taken an ambulance 3 times so far. Instead of going back to Washington Hospital I went to Kaiser this time.

They diagnosed me and they gave me medicine for my illness, praise God. I didn’t get very much help at all from the other hospital but I did witness to many doctors, nurses and patients in his name. I want to say thank you to everyone for all your help and your generosity that you have sent towards my new medication bills which is what a lot of it will be used for Including financing a % of my hospital bills.

I do so greatly appreciate all of you and all of your great love towards me/ Jesus shall deliver me. Please pray for miracles my way. As my breath is slow, But my spirit is full of love for God’s people.

May we continue steadfast and to everlasting life. Please note Saints, If you find anything In the way of gifts On my site Note that I’m going to be selling everything real cheap, for a small Donation price. I love you all And bless you all Everlasting life my friends Be sweet Be kind Be fruitful Be gentle to those that are sick To those that have fallen And believe Christ In everything Search him, Find him And obey Him.

So much love to you all Love, Denise Matthews. So pick and choose I would love to send you a gift. God bless you!”

History and Background of Denise ‘Vanity’ Mathews

Denise Matthews, popularly known as Vanity, was an exemplary artist. When I think of a jack of all trades, Vanity comes to mind. She was an actress, singer, songwriter and dancer. She left an unerasable mark on the cultural landscape back in the 80s. The name vanity was christened by her boyfriend and bandmate, who was known as Prince. She was originally from Canada, and that is where she started and flourished in her career. However, her career was suddenly cut short in the mid-1990s where she turned and concentrated on evangelism.

The career of Denise Matthews

Denise began modelling in 1977, where she entered several local pageants. After that, she moved to Toronto, where she modelled and won the Miss Niagara hospitality title. In 1978 she went to compete for Miss Canada. At the age of 17, Vanity moved to New York City to pursue her modelling career. While in New York, Vanity signed with Zoli Model Agency. However, her modelling career with Zoli model Agency did not pick as expected and was limited to commercials and photoshoots. She never appeared on runways, but she appeared in ads for Pearl Drops toothpaste. She later completed a modelling stint in Japan.

In 1980, Vanity banged her first role in a movie. It played a small role in the horror movie Terror Train. This role acted as a stepping stone in her acting career since, after this role, she played a lead role in the B-movie Tanya Island. In both movies, she went by the name D. D. Winters. After this, she met Prince when she was Rick James’ date at the American Music Awards. Meeting Prince was the creation of the name Vanity since he considered her the female version of himself.

Prince later learned that she could sing, and she asked her to be the lead singer of the girl group Vanity 6. Prince created Vanity six image, and Vanity had to accept it; otherwise, she would not be paid. However, Vanity preferred the old Diana Ross image. Vanity six recorded one album and was recognized internationally with the single ‘Nasty Girl’. Later, Vanity left the group and management by Prince and signed with Motown Records in the Mid 1980s. She had mild success on the US pop and R&B charts and released two albums.

While working as Vanity, she featured in several movies. The Last Dragon(1985) is one movie she starred in, and it featured her underground hit “7th Heaven” Some other films include, Never Too Young to Die (1986) opposite John Stamos. She later appeared in 52 pick-ups and Action Jackson(1988) that acted as her highest-profile role, and she starred opposite Carl Weathers, Craig T. Nelson and Sharon Stone.

During this time, she also starred in several TV shows. She acted as a villain who tortured Nancy Allen’s character in Memories of Murder (1990). She also guest-starred in an episode of Miami’s Vice third season, and in 1992 she featured in an episode of Highlander: The series. She also appeared in Friday the 13th: The series in the episode ‘Mesmer’s Bauble’ and appeared in Playboy in 1988.

End of Vanity’s Acting Career

By the end of these roles, Vanity was struggling with a crack addiction. She decided to quit drugs, and it was at this point where she became a born-again Christian. She renounced her stage name and retook control of her life. However, she relapsed a few years later, and this almost cost her life. This scary experience brought her closer to God, and her faith grew stronger. She was still taking roles in films and television. However, she got rid of some of her previous tapes and souvenirs from her music career. In 1997, her career as a performer came to an end, and she started her career as a minister. Her fans were not thrilled at her decision to leave her career as a performer. In one of her interviews, she stated, ‘ Before Christ, it was all about me; now, it is all about Jesus.’

Vanity’s Awards and Personal Life.

While still in the performance industry, Vanity was nominated thrice. In 1989, she was nominated in the Razzie Award 1989 as the worst actress. Also, in Action Jackson 1988 and 1986 The Last Dragon in the song 7th Heaven. Although Vanity could not get any awards, the sex vixen, musician and actor had a successful career. Other than Prince, Vanity was involved with Adam Ant and Billy Idol. In 1987 she was engaged but did not get married. In 1995 she married Anthony Smith, a footballer of the Oakland Raiders. However, the relationship did not last long as they divorced a year later.

Denise Matthews Illness and Death

Due to the excessive cocaine abuse, Denise suffered near-fatal renal failure. She later got a kidney transplant after years of being sober. She continued to work as an evangelist and later told her story in a self-published autobiography, Blame it on Vanity. Her health deteriorated later and took the turn for the worst. She set up a crowdfunding effort to help her raise enough money to clear her medical bills after being diagnosed with sclerosis encapsulating peritonitis, a severely painful kidney condition. She managed to raise $6,599 of the $50,000 she had sought. She later succumbed at the age of 57.

Final Thoughts

Years later, we still can’t come to terms with the demise of the decorated performer Denise Matthews. Whatever she did, she did her best and left a mark everywhere she went. Look at her career as an actor, musician and model. In all, she flourished and left a mark. Her change in career and consistency in evangelism awed most of her fans. In the end, what matters is whether we were happy with our choices. In both worlds, Denise was not only content but also managed to awe her fans.

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