DECEMBER 27, 1906

ALASKAN INUPIAQ ACTOR ACH-NACH-CHIAK (RAY MALA) BORN

Born in Candle, on Seward Peninsula, Ray was raised by his grandmother.  At 14, he walked 100 miles to Nome to work.  In the early 1920s, movie-makers came to Alaska.  Hired as labor, Mala showed he could operate a camera effectively in the cold.  By the late 1920s, he was an assistant cameraman for Fox Studios.  His first acting success came in Igloo, a documentary shot in Barrow.  Universal Studios dubbed him The Eskimo Clark Gable.  In 1932, MGM featured Mala in Eskimo–the first full-length major studio picture shot in Alaska.  The film won the first Academy Award for editing.  Mala often played indigenous characters, but not exclusively.  He acted alongside Charles Laughton, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Vincent Price, Dorothy Lamour, Barbara Stanwyck, Anthony Quinn, and Ralph Bellamy.   Yet, he was most admired as a cinematographer working camera for Otto Preminger and Alfred Hitchcock.  His last movie, Red Snow, was released in 1952.  Mala died on September 23, 1952, in Hollywood, California.  

Source:  Mike Dunham, "Book Recounts Career of The 'Eskimo Clark Gable,'" Wayback Machine: Anchorage Daily News, 3/27/2011.  Retrieved 7/23/2019, https://web.archive.org/web/20130516082345/http://www.adn.com/2011/03/26/1777040/book-recounts-career-of-the-eskimo.html
Photo:  Melbourne Spur, c. 1933.   Copyright holder:  Ted Mala.  Never published.  "The Mala Collection" University of Alaska, Anchorage.  Released into Public Domain by the copyright holder for any purpose and with no limitations subject to copyright holder attribution. 

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