Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Karl Malden Dies

It seems to be a routine thing lately, but today we have learned of another celebrity death. This time, it is actor Karl Malden. He was 97.

What do you think of when you think of Malden? Do you think of his Oscar–winning performance in "A Streetcar Named Desire?" Do you think of "On the Waterfront?" Or "Ruby Gentry?" Or "Patton?"

Do you think of his television role in the series "The Streets of San Francisco?" Or his many commercials for American Express?

I think of all those things and more. I think of his role as the determined stepfather of a murder victim in the made–for–TV movie, "Fatal Vision," which reunited him with his co–star from "On the Waterfront," Eva Marie Saint.

I think of his performance as Anthony Perkins' father in "Fear Strikes Out."

As a fan of "The West Wing," I remember his appearance, in 2000, as the president's former priest who visits the president when he is agonizing over whether to grant a last–minute pardon to a condemned man. It was a brief appearance on what I have always thought was one of the best episodes of the series.

And I think of his performance as Reverend Ford in 1960's "Pollyanna." I have attached a clip from that movie, in which Malden's character reminds his congregation that "death comes unexpectedly."

Well, when you are 97 years old, I guess death isn't all that unexpected.

Malden had a long career — and one of the longest marriages in Hollywood. His wife of 70 years survives him.

Rest in peace.