Produced by the legendary Quinn Martin, the show ran for five seasons (119 episodes) from 1972 until 1977, starring Malden as San Fran cop Lieutenant Mike Stone, a veteran homicide detective, and Michael Douglas as his young partner and protege Steve Keller (Douglas left the show at the start of the fifth season and was replaced by future Battlestar Galactica star Richard Hatch as Dan Robbins).
Though best remembered now for his role in The Streets Of San Francisco, Malden’s acting career spanned an astonishing eight decades, beginning in the 1930s. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as alongside Marlon Brando in the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire. He was nominated again for 1954’s On The Waterfront, again starring opposite Brando, but failed to lift a second gong.
His final role came in 2000 when he guest-starred as a priest on a first-season episode of The West Wing. In it, he carried the bible that he had used in On The Waterfront.
I have to say, The Streets Of San Francisco was just a little before my time, though I do remember that my gran liked it. The theme tune isn’t quite as catchy or memorable as some of its contemporaries but it’s still not bad and I’m sure that many people around the world were introduced to San Francisco’s distinctive, iconic look by the show’s opening montage.
Here are the opening titles from a 1973 episode which, appropriately enough, guest-starred future West Wing President Bartlet, Martin Sheen:
And here is the opening to a an early final season episode, after the arrival of Richard Hatch but before the departure of Michael Douglas:
And finally, here is a longer version of the theme music: