Karl Malden was born Mladen Sekulovich in Chicago, Illinois, in 1912. His father was a factory worker and milkman and his mother was a seamstress. The family moved from Chicago to Gary, Indiana in 1917, when Malden was five years old.
From 1931 until 1934, he worked in the steel mills and then pursued dramatic training at DePaul University in Chicago.
Malden made his Broadway debut in 1937, at the age of 25. He went on to appear in 21 Broadway productions through 1957.
He appeared in his first film in 1940 for RKO Radio Pictures, but like many others, his acting career was interrupted by World War II where he served as a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force.
He returned to acting after the war and was one of the original cast members of Tennessee Williams’ hit Broadway play A Streetcar Named Desire in 1947. Malden received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the film version in 1951. He was nominated again for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for On The Waterfront (1954).
His last film appearance was in 1987.
He was also a past president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1988-1992).
Malden married to Mona Greenberg (1917-2019) in 1938. They raised two children.
He died of natural causes in Los Angeles, in 2009, at the age of 97.