About Carla Malden


My Story

Raised in Los Angeles, Carla Malden grew up surrounded by the entertainment industry… sort of. Her father was Academy Award winning actor Karl Malden. Carla remembers the night Marlon Brando appeared in her room to say goodnight because he’d been stuck on the set and was late to her parents’ dinner party; she’d had to go to bed before he arrived.

That said, the people who surrounded the Malden dinner table were family friends first, Hollywood luminaries way down the list. She grew up in a Brentwood canyon with neighbors up and down the street, some of whom happened to be actors. The families shared Christmas Eves, Fourth of July, and took swimming lessons at one another’s homes.

Carla tells the story of the time when she was eight years old and came out of school at the end of the day to have the French teacher inform her that the gardener had come to pick her up. It was, in fact, Carla’s father, typically grubby, straight from weeding the hill behind their house. There may have been an Oscar in his little room above the garage where he worked on a part or spent hours reading, but her father was the man who loved to garden and who, with a little coaxing, would pretend to be a baby eating ice cream after dinner.

Bio Continued

Carla credits her father with imparting a strong work ethic. He taught her, by example, to care passionately about your work and to always dig as deep as you can. He often quoted a few lines from a magazine he’d picked up backstage when he first arrived in New York as a young actor. They referred to the profession of acting: “An actor spreads culture. His profession has dignity.” He believed that about the arts in general and imbued that sentiment in Carla.

Carla attended UCLA where she majored in English and graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.

She began her career in motion picture production and development, working for producers such as Warren Beatty and John Wilder.

Carla segued into screenwriting when she and her husband, Laurence Starkman, became a writing team. The old adage professes that a couple should be married for better and for worse… but not for lunch. Carla and Laurence defied that. Although he also worked as a film editor and film graphics designer, they spent an enormous amount of time working together. They were often asked who did what as a writing team. Their answer: Laurence was more visual and Carla more verbal. But over time, they absorbed one another’s strengths. Today, Carla often visualizes scenes in her novels unfolding cinematically as she writes.

During this time, Carla co-wrote her father’s autobiography, When Do I Start? and discovered how much she enjoyed writing prose. When her husband Laurence died, way too young, she wrote AfterImage: A Brokenhearted Memoir of a Charmed Life, a fiercely personal account of the last year of his life and her first year without him.

Despite the pain of delving into that time, the process reminded Carla of the joy of writing prose. She turned to fiction with Search Heartache (2019) and Shine Until Tomorrow (2021).

Her new book, My Two And Only which explores the psychology of a woman who is still grieving the loss of her husband but finds herself falling in love again. The problem is, she doesn’t know how to give up the widowhood status that has so defined her life – and her heart – for the last decade. The broad strokes of that story parallel Carla’s own life – seven years after her first husband’s death, she married again. Beyond that, My Two And Only is a work of fiction.

Carla Malden lives in Brentwood with her husband, entertainment attorney Norman Beil. They live 10 minutes from her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson who arrived at the beginning of pandemic lockdown and reminds her on a daily basis that even though the world seems to have spun off its axis, life is good.

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“Emotionally raw from start to finish, the story . . . also celebrates a rare and profound love that transcended death. A brutally candid memoir of the ‘all-consuming and profoundly uncomplicated’ power of grief.”

— Kirkus Review of Afterimage

What's New?

Salt Lake Dirt Podcast

Carla and Host Kyler Bingham dive deep into My Two and Only's exploration of love, loss, loyalty, and renewal.

Book Soup Presents

Award-winning novelist Joseph Di Prisco interviews Carla Malden about Shine Until Tomorrow and the pursuit of literary happiness.

What Exactly Are Memories?

Author / Host Tony Dushane draws Carla out on writing novels inspired by real life and the fine line between fiction and memoirs.