First there was Ed McMahon; then Farrah Fawcett; then Michael Jackson who was followed by Billy Mays. Would there be another famous actor / performer to
follow these? Yes, indeed, Karl Malden joined the ranks of this remarkable list of celebrities who recently died. I had a long-time interest in Karl Malden–a genuine appreciation for the way he played his parts. When a friend told me today of his death–I immediately asked, “You mean the actor with the big nose?” I thought he was one of the all-time best character actors of the last 35 years. He was also the man who reminded us “Never leave home without it” and he was, of course, talking about our American Express card. I believe he did those commercials for some 22 years. Remember the 1970’s TV detective series, “The Streets of San Francisco?” He made that show. He was Lt. Mike Stone and his sidekick on that series was Michael Douglas, son of Kirk Douglas. Malden had known Kirk Douglas when Douglas was a dancer named Isador Demsky working summer stock in the Adirondacks. Malden said, “If I had a son, I’d wish he was like Michael.” However, he had two daughters. Karl was born Mladen Sekulovich–try saying that three times real fast. When he left home to pursue his acting his father cautioned him, “Son, never do anything to disgrace the family name.” Not only did he not disgrace it–he memorialized it in many of his films. He would give an obscure actor the name “Sekulovich” knowing it would make his dad proud to hear the family name in a movie.
Whatever the role, Karl Malden made it believable. When a great actor like him dies you realize you have already been missing him. He was to a role like Morgan Freeman is today–each would make the movie or TV program better. The next time you look at your American Express card–remember Karl Malden. He was one of the good ones. He died on Saturday, the fourth of July at age 97. Think about this: He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Mona Greenberg and his two daughters and three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. I think he honored the admonition his father gave him when he was first starting out to be an actor about protecting the family name.
One of my readers wrote asking if Karl Malden was a Christian. I responded by saying I did not know. I still don’t. I hope he was. My reader was accurate when he pointed out that Mr. Malden’s goodness ( I had commented he was one of the good ones) would not earn him any points toward Heaven. I feel sure most of us, if not all of us, would have been pleased to have Mr. Malden as a neighbor. I do believe he was a good man. But Christ did not come to save good men, he came to save sinners. I am certain Karl Malden joins the rest of us and I do mean ALL OF US in this fact–We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. The Scripture puts it this way, “22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; –Romans 3:22-23
Here we have a universal truth from the Bible–All can have the righteousness of God through our faith (belief) in Christ and those who do not exercise that belief in Christ are lost in sin. How many–all. A friend once said to me and others, “All means all and that’s all that all means.” I know this, if there was a time when Mr. Malden exercised personal faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ and believed that He was raised from the dead he was at that moment saved for eternity. That’s the plan God has for each of us. Have you been saved? There are plenty of articles on this blog that will help you find salvation. The best you know how turn from your sinful ways to the Lord Jesus Christ. Trust in Him. Call upon His Name and ask Him to save you. He will do it.