Karl Malden Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
Mladen George Sekulovich was born on March 22, 1912, to Petar Sekulovich and Minnie Sekulovich. He was one of three children and also the oldest. Although he was born in Chicago Illinois, he was raised in Gary, Indiana. Mladen grew up speaking both English and Serb-Croatian. As a young boy, he grew up acting in plays and playing sports. He attended and graduated Emerson High school in 1931.
Following graduation, he worked as a steelworker in a steel mill. But he still acted. At the request of a company who wanted to hire him, he changed his name to Karl Malden when he was 22 years of age.
Then in September 1934, he left Gary Indiana and moved. In his new home, he started to take acting lessons at what is now called DePaul University. He also acted as the Goodman Theatre of Chicago. He had trouble paying for school, and he didn’t make enough at his job due to loss of work. He arranged to obtain a scholarship to the Chicago Art Institute.
While performing at the Goodman Theatre of Chicago, he met his wife. Karl performed for the Children’s Theatre. He then graduated the Chicago Art Institute in 1937. He returned to his hometown soon after graduation, broke and without a job.
Soon after returning home, Karl Malden once again left to move to NYC. Once there he began acting on Broadway in 1937. On top of the acting, Karl also did a radio job. While he didn’t make a big splash, he joined the Group Theatre. While with that group, he met the director Elia Kazan with whom he would later work with on films. His acting career was interrupted by United States entry into World War II. Karl, like many others, served in the war effort. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corp in the 8th Air Force. While serving his country in a time of war, he also made a movie about the war. And in 1945 after the war ended, Karl returned to acting.
Karl Malden's career although busy wasn’t a blockbuster hit. He made a lot of films from 1950 to 1970. He also made some television shows. A few of those films such as A Streetcar Named Desire won him an Academy Award as did On the Waterfront. However, it was the television show The Streets of San Francisco is what kept him acting from 1972-1977. Karl played Lt. Mike Stone. Although he was nominated several times for an award, he never won once. He left at the beginning of the fifth season. The series soon ended after his departure. He also became the spokesperson for American Express in the 1970’s.
Karl Malden did act in the 1980’s but not a lot. He transitioned into being a host and a spokesperson. He hosted and narrated the show Unsolved Mysteries in 1987. He stopped being so much on television. Around this time he also became the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1989-1992. His last job as an actor was with the West Wing which was nominated for many awards.
In the midst of his life, busy with acting, being a president and also a spokesperson, he wrote an autobiography called, When Do I Start? His co-author was his daughter Carla.
Karl Malden met his wife Mona Greenberg while acting the Chicago during his college years. She had graduated from Roosevelt High school in Emporia Kansas. She attended the state college of the same name. The two were married in 1938 and remained together for 71years. From this union, they had two daughters, Carla and Mila. He is survived by his family.
Karl Malden didn’t win many awards, but he did win a few. Here is a list of some of them.
1957: Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for A Streetcar Named Desire
1985: Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series: Fatal Vision
Oct. 2003: 40th recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award
Feb. 22, 2004: Lifetime Achievement Award SAG
Nov. 11, 2004: Monte Cristo Award of Eugene O’Neill Center
2005: Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Inducted into the Western Performer Hall of Fame
Karl Malden acted in approximately 51 films, 20 television shows, and one radio show. He did it spanning a career that lasted 60 years. He showed actors of his time and after what it took to be a character actor. It is said that he was not that happy that he was not considered a leading man like some of his counterparts. The parts that he did receive to act, he did it well and with pizazz.