Dead, Karl Malden on July 1, 2009 at the age of 97, he was an American actor, born Mladen Sekulovich in Chicago, Illinois on March 22, 1912, he was born on his mother’s twentieth birthday and was raised in Gary, Indiana.
His Bosnian Serb father, Petar Sekulović (1886–1975), worked in the steel mills and as a milkman, and his mother, Minnie (née Sebera) Sekulovich (22 March 1892 – 15 July 1995), was a Czech seamstress and actress.
The Sekulovich family roots trace back to Podosoje near the city of Bileća in Bosnia and Herzegovina, more specifically, in the eastern portion of Herzegovina.
Malden only spoke Serbian until he was in kindergarten and was fluent in the language until his death.
He changed his name from Mladen Sekulovich to Karl Malden at age 22.
He anglicized his first name by swapping its letters “l” and “a” and used it as his last; taking his grandfather’s first name as his own.
This was because the first theatre company he was in wanted him to shorten his name for its marquee.
He thought that they wanted to fire him and were using his name as an excuse; although that wasn’t the case, he still changed his name to give them no excuse.
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 theatre, he wooed the actress Mona Greenberg (stage name: Mona Graham), who married him in 1938.
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 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.
In 1980, Malden starred in Skag, an hour-long drama 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, in instances there were even full page ads taken out in newspapers in an attempt to keep the program from being taken off the air. Nevertheless, the series was cancelled after several episodes.
On December 12, 2008, just six days before his 70th wedding anniversary, Malden was inducted into the Wall of Legends, at St. Sava Church in San Gabriel, California, where Milan Opacich paid tribute to a wonderful man who was a great benefactor of a Serbian Ortodox church.