I was checking my e-mail at work earlier today and ran across a headline that reported that actor Karl Malden had passed away at 97. Most of us will remember Malden for the 70's crime drama, The Streets of San Francisco, co-starring Michael Douglas, and a series of commercials for American Express ("Don't leave home without it!"), but Malden was already a well respected and established film star by the time Quinn Martin had cast him in Streets.
The National Enquirer and other supermarket tabloids habitually will splash headlines claiming (fill in the blank)'s "sad last days", figuring if their readers recognize the name, they'll buy the rag and read the story. There were no such headlines forecasting Malden's passing. Rev. Phantom, posting on Mondo 70, admitted he didn't know Malden had lasted as long as he did. That sentiment, I suspect, is shared by so many because Malden had been out of the public eye the last several years. His last television appearance was nearly 10 years ago. It's almost a lock that Turner Classic Movies, assuming they have the rights, will air as many of Malden's films as possible in the coming days to honor his memory.
With all the media attention remaining focused obsessively on Michael Jackson, who passed away on June 25, Malden's death, and that of an early contemporary of his, Gale Storm (My Little Margie), will have all but slipped under the radar. There will be the obligatory mention on the news and entertainment programs, and that will be all. A week from now, we'll still be bombarded with "news", and I use the term loosely for a reason, about Jackson, while Malden will be resting in peace. Just the way he'd want it.