ALASKAN INUPIAQ ACTOR ACH-NACH-CHIAK (RAY MALA) DIED
Born in Candle, on Seward Peninsula, on December 27, 1906, Ray was raised by his grandmother. At 14, he walked 100 miles to Nome for work. When movie-makers came to Alaska in the early 1920s, Mala, hired as labor, 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 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. Public Domain. Source: "The Mala Collection" University of Alaska, Anchorage.