Legendary Actor Karl Malden Dead at 97

Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 2:48 PM PDT
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2009 in Memoriam

AP

Academy Award and Emmy Award-winning actor Karl Malden died July 1. The actor, who appeared in "A Streetcar Named Desire" and the TV show "Fatal Vision," was 97.

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Karl Malden Dead at 97

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Actor Karl Malden, who won an Oscar playing opposite Marlon Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire" and became known to millions as the American Express pitchman who warned, "Don't leave home without it," died Wednesday at his home in Brentwood at age 97.

Malden died of natural causes, the actor's daughter, Mila Doerner, told the Los Angeles Times.

The Chicago-born actor was ironically raised in Gary, Ind., the same town that was home to Michael Jackson and his family.

He began his acting career on Broadway, where he worked with then-fledgling director Elia Kazan, who directed him in the stage version of "A Streetcar Named Desire." His career was interrupted by a stint of military service in World War II, but when he returned, he made the jump to movies.

He appeared in a handful of films in 1950, including "The Gunfighter" and "Halls of Montezuma," but in 1951 he appeared in the film version of "A Streetcar Named Desire." His reprisal of the role of Mitch earned him an Oscar for best supporting actor.

Malden was nominated for another Oscar for playing street-wise priest Father Barry in the Brando-led film "On the Waterfront" in 1954.

Dozens of film roles followed, including appearances in "Baby Doll," "Birdman of Alcatraz," "How the West Was Won," "Gypsy," "The Cincinnati Kid" and "Patton."

In the 1970s, Malden became a fixture in American living rooms, playing Detective Lt. Mike Stone in the television cop-drama "The Streets of San Francisco," opposite a young Michael Douglas.

When the series ended in 1979, Malden appeared in a series of television movies and some big-screen projects, including "The Sting II" and "Nuts."

But he became even better known for his series of commercials touting the American Express credit card, always punctuated with the slogan, "Don't leave home without it." The commercials were often the target of spoofs on late-night television, particularly by Johnny Carson.

Malden's final television appearance was in a 2000 episode of "The West Wing."

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