Sad news from California: The great Karl Malden has died at the remarkable age of 97. Malden was an actor who managed to achieve success in both film and television. His most famous movie roles were under director Elia Kazan in A Streetcar Named Desire (for which Malden won an Oscar) and On The Waterfront. Some of his other bigscreen work included Hitchcock's I Confess and Birdman of Alcatraz. But Malden is perhaps most recognizeable for the six years he spent alongside Michael Douglas (an actor who even more deftly managed to conquer both television and the bigscreen) on the hit show 'The Streets of San Francisco.' I speak as an expert on this particular drama, having seen every episode numerous times. It is not exactly easy to argue that the series was a great work of art, but Malden was an enormously appealing and comforting presence. And his relationship with Douglas' character both reflected and transcended the typical "greatest generation"-"baby boomer" divide; Douglas' Mike Keller was not as radical as his longish hair would suggest, nor was Malden's Mike Stone (a Tom Clancy name if there ever was one) all that stone-cold.
In his later years, Malden remained an avuncular and pleasant presence on awards shows and in the interview chair. He just seemed like a nice guy.