Hollywood has lost another great one when actor Karl Malden passed away Wednesday at the age of 97. His daughter Mila Doerner told The Los Angeles Times that her father died of natural causes. Malden, who was born in Chicago as Mladen Sekulovich, has been a successful award-winning actor of stage, film, and television throughout his career, which lasted seven decades.
Malden won an Oscar in 1951 for his role as Mitch in the big-screen version of A Streetcar Named Desire, in which he also played the same character on stage. He worked with co-star Marlon Brando in 1954’s On The Waterfront, where Malden was the honorable Father Barry and Brando was the conscience-stricken ex-boxer Terry, as they decided to stand up against a corrupt union boss. The film was named as one of the 100’s most uplifting and inspiring films from the American Film Institute (AFI).
“Marlon made me work harder, dig deeper than any other actor I have ever worked with” Malden said in his memoir When Do I Start?
In the mid-1970s, Malden went to the small screen fighting crime on The Streets of San Francisco (1972-77) as Lt. Mike Stone, a veteran cop mentoring young Inspector Steve Keller, played by an then-unknown Michael Douglas. The series was a Quinn Martin Productions, and one of the first buddy-cop shows, in which Malden earned four Emmy nominations. While working on the series, he was also best known for the American Express commercials with the famous phrase, “Don’t leave home without it”; they lasted 20 years.
Malden reprised his role as Stone in the 1992 TV movie Back on the Streets of San Francisco, in which his character investigates the death of his partner Keller; Douglas, at the time was shooting Basic Instinct. Malden made his last appearance at an AFI tribute of Douglas last month through video. “I wish Michael could have been my son. I’m so proud of him” he said.
Malden is survived by wife of 70 years Mona and daughters Mila and Carla.