Mladen George Sekulovich by Tony Piazza
If you haven’t guessed it already, that is KARL MALDEN’s real name. He was born March 22, 1912 and died July 1, 2009 at the age of 97. He told me once that longevity runs in his Serbian family, and I guess this is proof that those genes did ultimately carry over to Karl. He was born in Chicago and raised in Gary Indiana, the eldest of three boys. He was brought up in a working class family (he himself worked in steel mills), and those experiences made him really empathize with those that had to toil for a living. Examples to illustrate this on our show is; that he was never above jumping in and helping- whether it was pulling cables, or spooning mashed potatoes on the crew’s plates at lunch, and when one of our local crew (not a major employee) became sick and died on location in Santa Rosa, he attended the funeral with the rest of us a few days later. Karl was a major actor, who won an Oscar for “A Streetcar Named Desire,” was nominated for another Oscar for “On the Waterfront,” received an Emmy for the television movie, “Fatal Vision,” and received many other prestigious awards as well. It wasn’t expected of him, but he was there for this working man and his grieving family. He also never forgot his Serbian roots. An old Serbian couple from San Francisco befriended him when we were doing the series. He spoke the Serbian language with them and they brought him plates of special Serbian treats. His eyes would light up every time they came on the set, and they in turn loved him. He found ways of working his family name as a tribute into his productions. In one way or another there was a “Sekulovich” mentioned in his films. On “The Streets of San Francisco” there was a Sgt. Sekulovich, which interestingly was played by his life long friend and stand-in, Art Passarella. I remember Karl as a father figure…and a good one at that…I met his daughter Carla, and enjoyed visiting with her. She was bright, well grounded, and unspoiled. Celebrity’s children can be problematic, but not in Karl’s case. I think that speak volumes to his and his wife Mona’s parenting abilities. Karl was a good friend to me. I was “junior” to him. I want to leave this memory today with a special one I have of him. During a break in shooting I wandered off to sit on a log that was situated on a cliff overlooking the San Francisco Bay. We were in the Sea Cliff district, filming at a mansion. As I was enjoying my quiet moment I felt a towering presence behind me, and when I turned I saw Karl. He sat down next to me and we started talking. I had just watched him on television that evening in a re-run of “Pollyanna.” I told him that I’d watched the show and he seemed honestly surprised how much I had enjoyed his performance as the preacher…and then unexpectedly and with great zeal he suddenly launched into his character and the sermon dialogue from that film! How cool is that…to get my own private performance from KARL MALDEN! I felt a supreme sadness at Karl’s death. I lost a good friend and a second dad wrapped into one.
Tony Piazza is author of the 1930s Hollywood murder mystery novel, “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His second novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” was next released early 2012, and in July of 2013, his latest Tom Logan Mystery, “A Murder Amongst Angels” was published and is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. A new Tom Logan novel has been completed and is scheduled to be released in 2015. He was an actor/extra during the 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden. His non-fiction e-book “Bullitt Points” is an in depth look at the making of “Bullitt” from a person who was there. Look for it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites, or at the link posted below. All profits go to the Boys Republic charity: www.bullittpoints.com.
Tony Piazza is a member of three prestigious writer’s organizations: Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the SLO NightWriters.
My earlier bestselling novels, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” and “Anything Short of Murder” now joins “A Murder Amongst Angels” on Amazon’s Kindle at a new, low price of $2.99. Now you can have hours of adventure, thrills, mystery, and romance for the price of a cup of coffee- and just as stimulating! Look for it on Amazon. Print versions have also been reduced.
Also: The new Tom Logan mystery thriller, A Murder Amongst Angels .
Find them all on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. Also available for $2.99 on Kindle.