Karl Malden: When Do I Start? with Carla Malden (1997)
Here’s an autobiography that it is practically impossible to dislike. It’s written with an honesty that comes through on every page.
From Malden’s early years growing up in Indiana and his family’s struggles as immigrants to his successful run in Hollywood, there are plenty of fun stories that peek through all the hardships.
Rather than go into the steel mills, Karl chased the dream to perform and accepted a wager to bet on himself. From acting school to pounding the pavement in New York for a break he slowly rose to prominence along with the Kazan group and a young performer named Marlon Brando. Karl paints a wonderful picture of what it must have been like to see the fire Brando brought to the stage and from there the cinema.
Enjoy a wonderful story of Karl and Red Buttons going to Quebec to meet Henry Hathaway when both were unknowns and how Hathaway determined who was getting which bit role. How about walking on cloud nine when he gets a compliment from Spencer Tracy? He covers the film roles and points out both his personal triumphs and outright misfires.
He also brings up a script he wanted to do titled The Day The Clown Cried. It’s the same one that has become the holy grail of Jerry Lewis films. The one Lewis has locked away in a vault that all us “film buffs” want to see.
Then of course there was the television success of The Streets of San Francisco and how he finally became a well known face with a name.
Through it all he doesn’t forget his family and after getting to know him through his writing it’s seems reassuring that he married his first love in 1938 and they remained so until his death in 2009.
A nice easy read that I found rewarding with plenty of insight to my favorite topic. The movies and their history. And oh yeah, how he acquired that nose.