Karl Malden photo

Karl Malden

Birth name:
Mladen George Sekulovich
Date of Birth:
1 July 1912 Chicago, Illinois, USA
6' 0½" (1.84 m)
Born to a Czech mother and a Serbian father in Chicago, on March 22, 1912, Karl Malden didn't learn how to communicate a single word of English until he was in kindergarten. Raised in Gary, IN, a medium-sized steel town, Malden--like many other young men in Gary--got a job in a steel factory when he finished school. He worked there for three years until 1934 when, fed up with the drudgery of manual labor, he took a Depression-era gamble and left to follow another goal. After a short time at Arkansas State Teacher's College, he attended the Goodman Theater Dramatic School and never looked back. Three years later he went to New York City to find fame. He rapidly became involved with the Group Theater, an awesome organization of actors/directors who were changing the face of Broadway. Malden's own unforgettable face was shortly in the media when he made his stage debut in 1937. His performance attracted the attention of fledgling director Elia Kazan. With Kazan directing, Karl blazed a trail across the Broadway boards in plays like "All My Sons" by Arthur Miller and "A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams. He returned unscathed from duty in the armed services and then immersed himself in his work. Fortunately, his short "vacation" had not harmed his career. From the "Golden Era" of Broadway, he made a transition to the screen, starting with his first appearance in They Knew What They Wanted (1940). Jobs came came and fast, and in 1951 he won the Oscar for his performance as Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). He was showing himself to be a consummate performer, whether tackling roles that had to be delivered with great moral weight or those requiring none whatsoever, like that of Father Corrigan in On the Waterfront (1954) or the Southern lecher Archie Lee in Baby Doll (1956). A later role came as Capt. Wessels, in John Ford's Cheyenne Autumn (1964). The film, Ford's last, was shot in his beloved Monument Valley. Malden found his greatest fame, however, in the early 1970s on the small screen, as Det. Mike Stone in the hit series "The Streets of San Francisco" (1972), co-starring with future movie star Michael Douglas. He came into millions of homes every week for five years. He also became the pitchman for American Express, a position he held for 21 years. The crowning glory of his career was in 1988 when he was elected President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a title he held for five years. Not one to rest on his laurels, Malden recently wrote his memoir entitled, "When Do I Start?: A Memoir."
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