I'm feeling a trace of relief along with my sadness as I note the passing of Karl Malden. Karl was ninety-seven years young when he died. I had begun to feel the icy fingers of the reaper on my neck as Michael "The King of Pop" Jackson and Billy "The King of Infomercials" Mays went to their final reward last week. They were both fifty. Fifty is what I am currently pushing, as are many of the people with whom I associate. The idea that my age is more like "middle" comes as a nice bit of reassurance from Mister Malden.
Karl was always good at that. "You're away from home, you lose your checks. What will you do? What will you do?" Karl let us know that we shouldn't leave home without our American Express traveler's checks. His was a voice of quiet trust. I took his advice. He won an Emmy and an Oscar, after all.
Before I ever saw "Streetcar Named Desire," he was Lieutenant Mike Stone on "The Streets of San Francisco." In his gray fedora and trench coat, he always managed to solve the crime with his partner Inspector Steve Keller before the Epilogue. Karl was happy to give all the tough stuff to Michael Douglas, including letting him drive after he was shot.
The other role I will remember him most for was his portrayal of General Omar Bradley in "Patton." Like his work with Brando, Karl was happy to let George C. Scott chew on the scenery while he created a believable, grounded character we could relate to. He wasn't going to win the war all by himself, but he was the guy you would turn to when you were ready to try.
Karl was fifty-eight when he starred in "Patton." He was sixty when he started his six year run on "The Streets of San Francisco." By that yardstick, I've got a lot to look forward to, and a lot to look back on.