Thursday, July 2, 2009

RANDOM: Karl Malden!

Via my newspaper work, I've befriended Pacific Palisades Honorary Mayor GAVIN MACLEOD, the great comic actor of "Mary Tyler Moore" and "Love Boat" fame and the co-star of one of my favorite comedies, Blake Edwards' "The Party." (In fact, I wrote a lengthy behind the scenes article on "The Party" which ran in the Post about a year ago and I'll post it here in a few days). To the left is a shot of us at last year's (my first) Chamber of Commerce Installation Dinner at the Riviera Country Club. What a terrific event that always is...

Gavin, myself, and Palisades residents LINDA JACKSON, the opera singer, and JOSH GREENFELD, the screenwriter who wrote "Harry and Tonto" (for which Art Carney won the Oscar) and "Oh, God, Book II," (for which George Burns won nothing), were all having lunch at the Village Pantry two days ago, June 30, after a photo shoot connected to an upcoming article on a stage reading they're all involved in at the local playhouse on August 2 (called "Whoosh!" which Josh wrote).

As is always the case when Gavin's in the mix, a lot of stories of old Hollywood, particularly Broadway and the theater (which Gavin has done a lot of). It was a terrific, boisterous, fun-filled meal (I had the Mayor's Burger, in case you're wondering, Josh, in true writer fashion, ordered a lot of coffee....and pancakes for lunch!), and along the way, we wound up talking about the great film ON THE WATERFRONT, one of my favorites, starring Marlon Brando and with a screenplay written by one of my all-time favorite writers, the great Budd Schulberg (WHAT MAKES SAMMY RUN?). Directed by ELIA KAZAN, of course (and Gavin's got Elia Kazan stories up the yin yang). I brought up KARL MALDEN, who plays the priest in the movie. It's probably my favorite Malden performance. So Gavin asks, "Is he still alive?" And I said, "Yeah, he lives in Brentwood." That was two days ago. Unfortunately, yesterday came word that Malden, at the age of 97 (and married 71 years!), had passed away. Another sad celebrity death in the a month of too many of them.

The timing of it was freaky. This happened twice last year, once in March 2008, when my cartoonist buddies Javier, Jose, Ted and I were headed for Frank 'n Sons and ROY SCHEIDER came up in conversation, followed a day later by word of his death. ANd on my birthday weekend dinner in April 2008, we joked about CHARLTON HESTON while dining at the grand Burbank restaurant Pinocchio's. After returning home, I looked online to learn that Heston had passed. Freaky!

Lesson learned: I will try not to get into any discussions about aging stars anymore.

Well, to end on a lighter note, after our great lunch at the Pantry, Gavin, Josh and me kibbitzed for a while on Swarthmore Avenue, visited the book store on the corner in search of EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND DVDs for Gavin, and, thanks to the sudden appearance of a Red Bull car, enjoyed a round of energy drinks (although Gavin gave me his). It was quite a delightful afternoon. Only in Pacific Palisades!

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