ACTOR KARL MALDEN: ‘IDEAS CHANGE AS WE EXPERIENCE LIFE.’

THE HUMAN RACE                            

OSCAR WINNER DISGUISED HIMSELF TO STUDY HUMANITY

Karl Malden had just finished co-starring

as Gen. Omar Bradley in “Patton,” the 1970 film

biography about the World War II exploits

of Gen. George Patton when he  explained to me

how characters in movies and novels change as the

 story unfolds.  Since I don’t have his exact quotes, I

paraphrased.  He told me that actors, directors,

writers realize that life experiences can

alter the philosophy of any person, real

or fictional. Malden might just as well

have been talking about today’s politicians.

 (In 1951 Malden won an Oscar for

Best-Supporting-Actor for a co-starring

role opposite Marlon Brando in “Streetcar

Named Desire”) He took his art seriously.

He told me: People change by experiencing

the good and bad of living. When I asked,

how did he know? he said that emulating

a real person is a significant part of the art

of acting.    “We work hard studying the

characters we must play. We’re all flexible.”

We were alone in his home when he pointed to his

large nose. “Even with this,” he said joking,

“I’ve disguised myself to study people. In

this line of work, it’s hard to hide from

the public.” Marlon Brando, he said, (In 1955

won an Oscar for Best Actor in “On the Waterfront”)

“had a two-way mirror installed in a tobacco

shop Off-Broadway to study people. He approached

characterization quite seriously. In real life,

people make mistakes; their philosophies change.

Failure to change course can lose a war, break a heart,

or turn a honest man into a criminal.  experience

alters the life of every person.”  With that, he gave

me a shove.  Behind that large dimpled nose was a

pair of handsome blue eyes.  They were smiling. 

Boots LeBaron

(Malden is not mentioned in Boots’ book, THE HUMAN RACE.

But Robert Mitchum is.  The book contains  a collection of interviews

with unique people interspersed with light poetry and essays about

life, death, love, courage, art, etc.  It’s available on Kindle and Amazon)

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