WHEN DO I START? by Karl Malden

WHEN DO I START?

A Memoir
by & illustrated by
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An engaging and amiable autobiography by the veteran, Academy Awardwinning character actor. Though they labor in the shadows of stars, supporting players are frequently more talented than their top-billed brethren, whose fame and fortune are so often the gift of their looks. Supporting players like Malden have only sheer acting ability going for them. Born Mladen Sekulovich, in 1913, into the Serbian enclave of the dreary mill town of Gary, Ind., Malden seemed destined for a life of hard manual labor. In school he acted frequently, but he had little sense of where or how to take this talent further, so he went to work in the local steel mill. Sensing life slipping by, he eventually visited the Goodman drama school in Chicago. With his small savings, he could only afford one semester's tuition, but he soon earned a scholarship and was on his way. Malden debuted during the Golden Age of American drama, when Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller were at the height of their powers. After he'd struggled for several years in plays that quickly closed, his portrayal of Mitch--on both stage and screen--in A Streetcar Named Desire launched his career of semi-stardom. This was the era of the Group Theater, that dedicated, even cultic, band of performers and directors who changed American acting. While Malden was deeply involved with them, he already, naturally, adhered to many of their precepts--minus their dogma. His comments on his preparation as an actor are some of the most interesting parts of this book. Despite his acting abilities, Malden has no great gift for choosing roles, and beyond a few notable exceptions, such as Patton and On the Waterfront, he has appeared in any number of mediocre movies and TV shows. Still, his is an inspiring story of perseverance and hard work. As autobiographies by second bananas go, this is among the best of the bunch.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-84309-9
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1997