<--- Marlon Brando, Nick Dennis, Rudy Bond and Karl Malden in Broadway's original production of A Streetcar Named Desire in 1947 [via]
This past week has been very rough on the entertainment industry and our cultural history. Today, with Karl Malden's death, we've lost the last remaining principal cast member of Tennessee William's legendary play turned movie A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). Now, Malden's career was much larger than mama's boy Harold "Mitch" Mitchel but that classic role, which he originated and owned, is a vital part of his legacy.
Strangely, Jessica Tandy's TONY honor (the original "Blanche DuBois") was the show's only attention from 'Broadway's Oscars' if you will. All the principles transferred to the movie except Tandy who was replaced by the cinema's most legendary southern belle (even though she was British) Vivien Leigh. When it came to the Oscars, three of the four actors (including Malden) collected statues. In typical Oscar fashion the performance most often regarded as game changing for the entire art of acting (Brando's) was the one snubbed on Oscar night. That's not a knock on the other indelible performances, don't misunderstand. It's a knock on Oscar. I'm getting off track but it's a sore spot for me as I'll never understand the instant or enduring love for The African Queen.
Malden was very prolific in the 50s and 60s and his second most treasured performance is probably his man of the cloth role in another Elia Kazan / Marlon Brando film, On the Waterfront (1954). Other enduring features include Baby Doll (1956, pictured right), Pollyanna (1960) The Birdman of Alcatraz and Gypsy (1962), Patton (1970) and Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979).
Rest in peace.