Malden And Jackson: A Study of Contrast


Last week, two people of the area where I live passed away. Karl Malden and Michael Jackson were both from the Calumet Region, Gary, Indiana to be exact. Both achieved much in their lives and are honered by their peers in death.

Karl Malden, was a consumate character actor. He won the accademy award for his work in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” He also acted in the film “Patton,” playing the role of Gen. Omar Bradley to perfection.

He is better know for his work in “The Streets Of San Francisco.” That was one of my favorite shows in the ’70’s.

He died at home from natural causes at age 97. He was president of the Screen Actors Guild three times and lived a good quiet life in later years. He will be missed for his good work as an actor. He was not a star, but he was something better; an actor who worked at his craft and succeeded.

Michael Jackson also achieved much and succeeded. I will admit that I am not a big fan or that I followed Jackson’s career with any intensity. However, there were a few songs that I liked and his stage act was impressive.

In those respects, he deserves some of the hoopla that he has received these past few days. That aside, his life was somewhat sad and controversial. His facial surgery, his way of having children, his use of drugs, especially to go to sleep are all troubling.

There is also the alleged charges of child molestation. I know he was acquitted in 2005 of charges. Yet, he also settled out of court charges earlier. Maybe it was only to avoid a long, drawn out court battle. Yet, in many cases it may mean that he was guilty and wanted to avoid the stain of being known as a child molester. I won’t speculate on this. But it is the one way of looking at this.

He was a decent songwriter, but, I guess I’m influenced by my rock ‘n roll roots. I consider the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon to be better song writers than Jackson. Thereare few songs that I will remember of Jacksons as opposed to the others. Dylan, for instance has had a #1 album at the age of 65. Forty years after his first big album. That, to me is staying power.

Yes it is comparing apples to oranges in terms of song writing. The Beatles and others came from the genre of Rock ‘n Roll.

Of course, Jackson came out of the Motown and R and B music. He was great for that, However, to me the Temptations and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles were better than Michael Jackson. As was Diana Ross and Aretha.

That aside, the use of drugs, especially for sleep is troubling to me. If Jackson had trouble sleeping, perhaps he should have gone to a sleep clinic and receive the help he needed. It might have saved his life.

I’m sorry that both of these men have died. It is always a loss to the world, no matter who it is. I hope they find a measure of peace in their rest. They are an interesting study in contrast. We can honor their achievements. We can also learn something in their passing.

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