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Actor Karl Malden dies at 97

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Karl-Malden-Streets_l Karl Malden, an Oscar- and Emmy-winning actor perhapsbest remembered for his role as Detective Lt. Mike Stone on the ’70s TV seriesThe Streets of San Francisco, has died of natural causes. He was97.

Born Mladen Sekulovich, the former steel-mill worker and World WarII vet with an average-Joe mug (and bulbous nose) emerged in the 1950s in anumber of notable film performances. He won an Oscar for hisportrayal of Blanches earnest suitor Mitch in the 1951 adaptation of AStreetcar Named Desire (he’d previously played the part on Broadway), and received another nod for his role as streetwise Father Barry in 1954’s On TheWaterfront. He followed with turns in Baby Doll (1956), How the WestWas Won (1962), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), and Patton (1970), among many others.

In 1972,Malden successfully switched mediums with a full-time gig on the ABC drama TheStreets of San Francisco. As Lt. Stone, the gruff, widowed homicide detectivewho was partnered with Michael Douglas’ Inspector Keller, he nabbed four Emmynominations. Audiences also got to know him during commercial breaks: In the ’70s and ’80s, he starred in ads for American Express Travelers Cheques,uttering the famous line: “Don’t leave home without them.” Malden, who claimedan Emmy in 1984 for the TV movie Fatal Vision, also served as president of theAcademy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1989 to 1992; he last appearedon screen in a 2000 episode of The West Wing. In his personal life, Malden wasmarried to actress Mona Graham for more than 70 years, which stands as one ofHollywood’s longest marriages. –Dan Snierson