SAG Mourns Actor Karl Malden

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SAG Mourns Actor Karl Malden

Los Angeles (July 1, 2009)—Screen Actors Guild joins the world in mourning renowned actor Karl Malden, who died today. He was 97.

“Karl was an actor’s actor, the embodiment of professionalism, which included National Board service to this union,” said SAG National President Alan Rosenberg. “We will remember the many indelible characters he created, and his screen legacy will continue to move us, educate us and enrich our lives.”

David White, the Guild’s interim national executive director, said, “We are fortunate to have had such an exemplary artist among the ranks of our membership—a true ambassador representing the best of our industry and an historic figure who made the Guild stronger through the sacrifice of service.”

2003 SAG Life Achievement Award Recipient Karl Malden
2003 SAG Life Achievement Award
Recipient Karl Malden

Photo by Mark Hill/TNT

Malden served on the SAG National Board of Directors for three consecutive terms, from 1963 to 1972. He received the 2003 SAG Life Achievement Award for his career achievements and humanitarian accomplishments. Former National President Melissa Gilbert has said, “Making the call to inform Mr. Malden of this honor was one of the most moving and joyous tasks of my presidency.”

With his famous bulbous nose and earnest demeanor, Malden was a powerful character actor whose mastery was displayed on Broadway, in episodic television and in more than 50 film roles.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored Malden with an Oscar in 1951 for his supporting performance as Blanche du Bois’ suitor Mitch in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” which recreated the Broadway stage role for which he received the New York Drama Critics Circle and Donaldson Awards in 1948 (both under Elia Kazan’s direction). He received his second Oscar nomination in 1954 for his performance as crusading priest Father Barry in “On the Waterfront.”

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded him an Emmy in 1985 for his leading role as Jeffrey MacDonald’s father-in-law in the miniseries “Fatal Vision” and nominated him four consecutive times (1974-1977) for his starring turn as veteran Detective Lt. Mike Stone opposite Michael Douglas on “The Streets of San Francisco.” The role also earned him a Golden Globe nomination in 1976.

In addition, Malden was a long-running spokesman for American Express, delivering the company’s now-famous tagline, “Don’t leave home without it.”

On Friday, July 10, Turner Classic Movies will dedicate its primetime lineup to Malden with three of his most memorable films. At 8 p.m.(ET) the network will air On the Waterfront (1952), which earned Malden an Oscar nomination. Malden won an Academy Award for his role in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), which airs at 10 p.m.(ET), followed by his memorable performance in Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) at 12:15 a.m.(ET).

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About SAG
Screen Actors Guild is the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG has a rich history in the American labor movement, from standing up to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940s to fighting for artists’ rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century. With 20 branches nationwide, SAG represents nearly 120,000 actors who work in film and digital television programs, motion pictures, commercials, video games, music videos, industrials and all new media formats. The Guild exists to enhance actors’ working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists’ rights. SAG is a proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Headquartered in Los Angeles, you can visit SAG online at