Thursday, July 2, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #49: Natural Causes

This blog is quickly becoming an obituary column with quasi-amusing quips by yours truly. Anyhow, the great actor Karl Malden passed away yesterday of natural causes at the age of 97. I assume you the reader know his work, or at least the scope of his work. Chances are, you are also aware of his epic marriage. So I'm not going to parrot what the news outlets have already said, and I'll let the quipping begin:

Now natural causes usually means that a person lives to ripe old age and succumbs to a some sort of illness. Dying before the average life expectancy or violent deaths are usually not natural causes. Anyhow, I'd like to think Malden's natural cause was like the description of the Golden Age from James Baldwin's (1841-1925) adaptation of Greco-Roman mythology:

When these happy people had lived long enough they fell asleep, and their bodies were seen no more. They flitted away through the air, and over the mountains, and across the sea, to a flowery land in the distant west.
Or maybe like Bilbo Baggins' party trick, except the disappearance wouldn't be a trick but permanent:



On your feet, making a grand speech, and dissolving into thin air - to the sound of applause - now that's a way to go. That's what natural causes should be.

Well, I should change the mood of this entry a bit with a scene from Mr. Malden's Streets of San Francisco, except without the man of the hour. This scene features a guest star who's currently trying to sort out a state budget up in Sacramento:



Arnold's victim in the above video is an example of death by unnatural causes. Don't worry; Malden and young Michael Douglas eventually caught the future Governator by the end of the episode.

R.I.P., Karl Malden. (And good luck, Governor Schwarzenegger.)

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