A childhood promise shaped much of Al Malnik's life. The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Al Malnik was raised in a working-class neighborhood in St. Louis. As a young boy, Al Malnik promised his parents he'd take up a professional career as an adult. He'd be a doctor or a lawyer – reassuring his parents he'd have a good life filled with things his parents felt they were unable to provide. To fulfill his childhood promise, Al Malnik chose a career in law and began his studies at Washington University. Joining the university's ROTC program as an undergraduate led Al Malnik to a two-year stop in El Paso, Texas after his 1954 graduation. From 1954 to 1956, he served in the Army as a Guided Missile Officer, achieving the rank of Reserve Captain.
Not unlike his childhood promise, his obligation to serve in the army after completing his undergraduate studies played an important role in leading Al Malnik to Florida in 1956. He describes choosing Florida and the University of Miami as a flip-of-the-coin decision. Lured by warm weather, glory state reputations and
considerably less conservative lifestyles than he was accustomed to Al Malnik, now a newlywed, narrowed his options to California and Florida — then flipped a coin.
GI program benefits provided him with the opportunity to attend law school. In 1959, Al Malnik, 26, graduated law school with high honors and remembers hearing his two young children greet him as he stepped off the stage – L. L.B. and J.D. degrees in hand. His first office, on Lincoln Road, became home base for the practice where Al Malnik developed a reputation as a top-notch criminal attorney and led to the development of many meaningful personal and business relationships.
Hard work led to success, allowing Al Malnik to pursue business interests outside of his law practice – including the rights to Scopitone – a "movie machine" that he eventually sold his interest in for $2 million. In addition to making Al Malnik a young millionaire, Scopitone introduced Malnik to the entertainment world. Long-lasting business and personal