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Whose birthday am I celebrating?

December 27, 2014

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Today is the birthday of Ray Mala, an Alaskan actor, director and cinematographer.

Mala was born Ray Wise in the small village of Candle, Alaska to a Russian Jewish immigrant father and a Native Alaskan mother. He was born during a unique period in Alaskan history. At that time Alaska was still a territory of the United States and still a mystery to many Americans. In 1921 an explorer named Captain Frank Kleinschmidt went to Alaska on an expedition to film a picture called Primitive Love in which Mala makes his film debut at age 14. Not only does Mala act in front of the camera but he serves as a cameraman as well for the picture. From here young Mala accompanied Knud Rasmussen, the Danish Arctic explorer and writer on his trip called The Great Sled Journey from 1921 to 1924 to collect and describe Inuit songs and legends as the official cameraman.

Ray Mala (December 27, 1906 – September 23, 1952) was the first Native American movie star and the most prolific film actor Alaska has thus far produced. Mala was recently named a “Top Ten Alaskan” by TIME Magazine. He starred in MGM’s Academy Award-winning Eskimo.  Wikipedia

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2 comments

  1. Who knew?


    • One might reply, “who cares?” But I found it interesting.



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