Definitions

Karl_Malden

Karl Malden

Karl Malden (born on March 22, 1912) is an American actor of Serbian origin, known for his expansive manner. In a career that spanned over seven decades, he was featured in classic films such as A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront and One-Eyed Jacks, with Marlon Brando, and also starred in the blockbuster movie, Patton. Among other notable film roles are Archie Lee Meighan in Baby Doll and Zebulon Prescott in How the West Was Won both starring Carroll Baker. His best-known role was on television as Lt. Mike Stone on the 1970s crime drama, The Streets of San Francisco.

Biography

Early life

The eldest of three brothers, Malden was born Mladen Adam Sekulovich (from Mladen George Sekulović, Serbian Cyrillic: Младен Ђорђе Секуловић) in Chicago, Illinois. He was the child of a Serb father, Petar Sekulovich, and a Czech seamstress mother, Minnie. His father worked in the steel mills and as a milkman. The Sekulovich family roots trace back to the city of Bileća in Herzegovina. Malden spoke Serbian until he was in kindergarten. Malden's father had a passion for music, and organized a choir. As a teenager, Malden joined the Karageorge Choir. In addition, his father produced Serbian plays at his church and taught acting. A young Malden took part in many of these plays, which included a version of Jack and the Beanstalk, but mostly centered on the community's Serbian heritage. In high school he was a popular student and the star of the basketball team (according to his autobiography, Malden broke his nose twice while playing, taking elbows to the face and resulting in his trademark bulbous nose). He participated in the drama department, and was narrowly elected senior class president. After graduating from Emerson High School in 1931 with high marks, he briefly planned to leave Gary for Arkansas, where he hoped to win an athletic scholarship, but college officials did not admit him due to his refusal to play any sport beside basketball. From 1931 until 1934, he worked in the steel mills, as had his father.

He changed his name from Mladen Sekulovich to Karl Malden at age 22. He anglicized his first name by switching the letters and made it his last name and then took his uncle's first name. This was because the first theatre company he was in wanted him to shorten his name for the marquee. He thought they wanted to fire him and were using his name as an excuse, although this was not the case, so he changed it not to give them the excuse.

Malden often finds ways to say "Sekulovich" in films and television shows in which he appears. For example, as General Omar Bradley in Patton, as his troops slog their way through enemy fire in Sicily, Malden says "Hand me that helmet, Sekulovich" to another soldier. In Dead Ringer, as a police detective in the squad room, Malden tells another detective: "Sekulovich, gimme my hat." In Fear Strikes Out, Malden, playing Jimmy Pearsall's father John, introduces Jimmy to a baseball scout named Sekulovich. In Birdman of Alcatraz, as a prison warden touring the cell block, Malden recites a list of inmates' names, including Sekulovich. Malden's father was not pleased, as he told his son 'Mladen, no Sekulovich has ever been in prison!' Perhaps the most notable usage of his real name was in the TV series The Streets of San Francisco. Malden's character in the program, Mike Stone, employed a legman (played by Art Metrano) with that name, who did various errands.

Education and early stage work

In September 1934, Malden decided to leave his home in Gary, Indiana, to pursue formal dramatic training at the Goodman School (later part of DePaul University), then associated with the Goodman Theater in Chicago. Although he had worked in the steel mills in Gary for three years, he had helped support his family, and was thus unable to save enough money to pay for his schooling. Making a deal with the director of the program, he gave the institute the little money that he did have, with the director agreeing that, if Malden did well, he would be rewarded with a full scholarship. He won the scholarship. When Malden performed in the Goodman's children's theater, he wooed the actress Mona Greenberg (stage name: Mona Graham), who married him in 1938. He graduated from the Chicago Art Institute in 1937. Soon after, without work and without money, Malden returned to his hometown.

Career

Acting career: circa World War II

He eventually traveled to New York City, and first appeared as an actor on Broadway in 1937. He did some radio work and in a small role made his film debut in They Knew What They Wanted. He also joined the Group Theatre, where he began acting in many plays and was introduced to a young Elia Kazan, who would later work with him on A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and On the Waterfront (1954). His acting career was interrupted by World War II, during which he served as a noncommissioned officer in the 8th Air Force. While in the war, he was given a small role in the U.S. Army Air Forces play and film Winged Victory. After the war ended in 1945, he resumed his acting career, playing yet another small supporting role in the play Truckline Cafe, with a then-unknown Marlon Brando. He was given a co-starring role in the play All My Sons with the help of director Elia Kazan. With that success, he then crossed over into steady film work.

Film career: 1950s to 1970s

Malden resumed his film acting career in the 1950s, starting with The Gunfighter (1950) and Halls of Montezuma (1950). The following year, he starred in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), playing Mitch, Stanley Kowalski's best friend who starts a romance with Blanche DuBois (Vivian Leigh). For this role, he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Other films during this period included On the Waterfront (1954), where he played a priest who influenced Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) to testify against mobster-union boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb). In Baby Doll (1956), he played a power-hungry sexual man who had been frustrated by a teenage wife. He starred in dozens of films from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, such as Fear Strikes Out (1957), Pollyanna (1960), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), Gypsy (1962), How the West Was Won (1962), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), and Patton (1970), playing General Omar Bradley. After Summertime Killer (1972), he appeared in the made-for-television film The Hijacking of the Achille Lauro (1989) (as Leon Klinghoffer).

Television work

The Streets of San Francisco

In 1972, Malden was approached by producer Quinn Martin about starring as Lt. Mike Stone in The Streets of San Francisco. Although the concept originated as a made-for-television movie, ABC quickly signed on to carry it as a series. Martin hired Michael Douglas to play Lt. Stone's young partner, Inspector Steve Keller.

Malden's father was delighted about this series being in San Francisco, as he had intended to settle in that city, but had to change his plans as he'd arrived on the day of the San Francisco earthquake.

On Streets, Malden played a widowed veteran cop with more than 20 years of experience who is paired with a young officer recently graduated from college. During its first season, it was a ratings winner among many other 1970s crime dramas, and served as ABC's answer to such shows as Hawaii Five-O, Adam-12, Ironside, Barnaby Jones, Kojak, McMillan and Wife, Police Woman, The Rockford Files and Switch.

During the second season, production shifted from Los Angeles to San Francisco. For his work as Lt. Stone, Malden was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor - Drama Series four times between 1974 and 1977, but never won. After two episodes in the fifth season, Douglas left the show to act in movies; Douglas had also produced the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1975. Lt. Stone's new partner was Inspector Dan Robbins, played by Richard Hatch. The show took a ratings nosedive, and ABC canceled it after five seasons and 119 episodes.

Skag

In the mid-1970s, Malden starred in Skag, an hour-long dramatic that focused on the life of a foreman at a Pittsburgh steel mill. Malden described his character, Pete Skagska, as a simple man trying to keep his family together. The pilot episode for the series had Skag temporarily disabled by a stroke, and explored the effects it had on his family and co-workers. While Skag met with poor ratings, critics praised it, even taking out full page ads to keep it on the air. It was nevertheless canceled after several episodes.

Other work

American Express

Malden famously delivered the line "Don't leave home without them!" in a series of U.S. television commercials for American Express Travelers Cheques in the 1970s and 1980s.

USPS Committee

Malden is a member of the United States Postal Service's 16-member Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, which meets to review recommendations for U.S. commemorative postage stamps.

Private life

Malden has been married to Mona Greenberg since December 18, 1938. Their marriage is one of the longest in Hollywood's history.

In 1997, Malden published his autobiography, When Do I Start?, written with his daughter Carla.

Selected filmography

Awards

Karl Malden won the 1951 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for A Streetcar Named Desire and was nominated in 1954 for his supporting role in On the Waterfront. Malden is a past president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In October 2003, he was named the 40th recipient of the Screen Actors' Guild's Life Achievement Award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment.

On November 12, 2005, the United States House of Representatives authorized the U.S. Postal Service to rename the Los Angeles Barrington Postal Station as the Karl Malden Postal Station in honor of Malden's achievements. The bill, H.R. 3667, was sponsored by Representatives Henry Waxman and Diane Watson.

In May 2001, Karl Malden received an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from Valparaiso University.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Karl Malden has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6231 Hollywood Blvd. In 2005, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

References

External links

Search another word or see Karl_Maldenon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature