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Friday, July 03, 2009

Karl Malden Dies, 97 Years Old

He didn't have the matinee idol looks that many of his contemporaries had. He didn't have a great or unique voice that many of his contemporaries had. He didn't make the headlines for causing controversy the way many of his contemporaries did. But he could act. Boy, could he act. He could act circles around other actors.

Karl Malden died at the age of 97. LA Times:

    Karl Malden, a versatile Oscar-winning actor who built a six-decade Hollywood career playing heroes and heavies -- and, often, relatable ordinary men -- yet who was certain he was best known as a commercial pitchman for American Express, has died. He was 97.

    Malden died Wednesday of natural causes at his Brentwood home, said Mila Doerner, a daughter.

    He received his Academy Award for playing Mitch in the 1951 film “A Streetcar Named Desire,” a role he originated on Broadway. Two decades later, he starred in the 1970s TV series "The Streets of San Francisco" with Michael Douglas, then in his late 20s.


    For more than 20 years, Malden was the spokesman for American Express travelers checks who turned "Don't leave home without them" into a national catchphrase in a series of commercials that debuted in 1973.


    "I never thought I was salable," Malden recalled in a 2004 interview. "I learned in my second year of drama school that I was not a leading man -- I was a character actor. So I thought, I'd better be the best character actor around."


    Eva Marie Saint, who worked with him in 1954's "On the Waterfront" and became a good friend, called Malden "a consummate actor."

    [She said he] "never changed, he always became the character. If you watch his work, he never falls, there's never a false move."

Malden's full filmography.

Rest in Peace.

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97 years is a long time to occupy skin. Karl Malden really could act and he did it without all the whining and loathing of todays Hollywood crowd. Rest in peace Karl.
Karl Malden was such a sweet man :(

Yeah, he was an Actor's Actor. All profession, no tantrums.

I saw "Streetcar" and "On The Waterfront" for film class in college. Both just blew me away, and I recognized Malden as one of the great character actors ever.
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