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"In the Spotlight"

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Thanks for the Spotlight on Ms Adams.She has some great talent and I'm big fan of The Creature movie.was glad to see her Murder She Wrote she was in good company of other talented people especially Ms. Lansbury.

Happy New Year

Christine

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Julie in a scene from "Psychic Killer" directed by husband Ray Danton (1975)

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IN the Spotlight: RAY MALA

 

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Ray Mala is the first Native American movie star and is the most prolific film star that the state of Alaska has thus far produced.

 

He was born Ray Wise on December 27, 1906 to an Anglo trader and an Eskimo mother in Candle, Alaska 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 16. 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.

 

In 1925 Mala made his way to Hollywood and got a job as a cameraman with Fox Film Corporation (this was before the creation of 20th Century Fox).

Not long after Mala landed his first lead role in the silent film "Igloo" for Universal Pictures. "Igloo" was a success and led to his being cast as the lead in MGM's "Eskimo/Mala the Magnificent". Louis B. Mayer sent director Woody Van Dyke to Alaska to film with an all Alaska native cast. "Eskimo" was produced by the legendary Irving Thalberg. "Eskimo/Mala the Magnificent" premiered to much fanfare at the famed Astor Theatre in Times Square, New York in 1933 and was a huge success.

"Eskimo" was billed as "The biggest picture ever made" by MGM. The movie won the first Oscar for Best Film Editing at the Academy Awards.

 

Mala gained international stardom following "Eskimo" and as a result MGM cast Mala as the lead in "Last of the Pagans" (1935). "Last of the Pagans" was written by John Farrow (Mia Farrow's father) and directed by Richard Thorpe. "Last of the Pagans" was filmed entirely on location in Tahiti and performed respectably at the box office. Mala's next big role came in "The Jungle Princess" (1936) which launched Dorothy Lamour's career. He also starred as himself in Republic Pictures' "Robinson Crusoe of Clipper Island" (1936) which was one of the first serials the studio had ever made (and the only sound serial with 14 chapters). Mala co-starred with Herman Brix in Republic's "Hawk of the Wilderness" (1938) which many consider one of the top 10 best serials ever made.

Other notable films include "Green Hell" (1940) starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., "Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe" (1940), Cecil B. DeMille's "Union Pacific" (1939), "Son of Fury" (1942) starring Tyrone Power, "The Tuttles of Tahiti" (1942) starring Academy Award winner Charles Laughton, and many other films of Hollywood's golden era.

 

Mala also spent a considerable amount of time behind the camera as a cinematographer. He worked with Academy Award winner Joseph LaShelle on many pictures including the Oscar winning "Laura" (1944) starring Gene Tierney, "Les Miserables" (1952), and many other films. One vintage photograph shows Mala working on location in Santa Rosa as a cameraman on Alfred Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" (1943). Other films include "Meet Me After The Show" (1951) starring Betty Grable, "The Fan" (1949), etc. Mala was also very close to Director Henry Koster and worked as a cinematographer on several of his pictures with Joseph LaShelle.

 

In 1937 Mala married Galina Kropotkin, Russian Princess, sometimes known as Galina Liss. Mala and Galina had a very happy personal life together and had one son named Ted. They counted such luminaries as Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), Bob Hope, and Stan Laurel as personal friends.

 

In 1952 Mala came back in front of the camera to star in "Red Snow" (1952) opposite Guy Madison and according to the American Film Institute, "Red Snow" is the first film to deal with the cold war and the atomic bomb.

 

Ray Mala was considering an offer from Cecil B. DeMille to appear in "The Ten Commandments" when he died of a heart attack brought on while shooting at a rugged Mexican location for Oscar-winning cinematographer Joseph LaShelle in 1952, after working in Hollywood for almost 30 years. He was only 46 years old.

 

His son Ted Mala grew up to become the first Alaska Native doctor. Dr. Mala served as the first Alaska Native Commissioner of Health and Social Services in 1990. Dr. Mala has two children: Ted Mala, Jr. and Galina Mala Liss.

 

Kudos to Inupiat Eskimo actor/cinematographer Ray Mala for a unique adventure during his short and prosperous lifetime.

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Making the movie "Shadow of a Doubt"

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Ray Mala (extreme right) Hitch in center

Teresa Wright & Joseph Cotten on left

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Ray Mala's final film "Red Snow" (1952)

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Ray Mala's credits as a cinematographer and cameraman:

 

"Meet Me After the Show" Cinematographer

"Igloo" Cinematographer

"Come to the Stable" Cameraman

"Something for the Birds" Cameraman

"Laura" Cameraman

"Les Miserables" (1952) Cameraman

"Happy Land" Cameraman

"The Fan" (1949) Cameraman

"Doll Face" Cameraman

"Thunderhead, Son of Flicka" Cameraman

"Shadow of a Doubt" Cameraman

 

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In the Spotlight: PEGGY ANN GARNER

 

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The talented blonde actress was born on February 3, 1932 in Canton, Ohio. She would have a normal, happy life for only six years. That's when mother Virginia Garner packed their suitcases and took the child to Hollywood, determined to make her a star.

A clever woman she had Peggy into summer stock and modeling before she was 6, and before long the child made her film debut in 1938 in "Little Miss Thoroughbred", followed by "In Name Only" with Cary Grant and Carole Lombard.

 

Little Peggy was on her way in such films as "The Pied Piper" with good friend Roddy McDowall, "Jane Eyre" with Elizabeh Taylor, and "The Keys of the Kingdom".

She reached the height of her success at the age of 13 in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (1945) winning a Juvenile Oscar for her sterling performanc as Francie Nolan, and the Oscar immediately became her "favorite boyfriend," as she would say later

 

Life was good. Everywhere Peggy and Virginia went, they were welcomed by an adoring crowd. They just couldn't get enough of their little darling. To the child who was accustomed to being shunted aside in favor of her prettier friends, Peggy became a role model with inner strength and a cheery disposition. To adults, she was the daughter they wished they had.

 

Other films included, "Nob Hill" with George Raft, "Junior Miss" a delightful film, "Home, Sweet Homicide", "Daisy Kenyon" as Dana Andrews daughter, "The Sign of the Ram", etc.

 

So why didn't Peggy continue starring in big-budget productions? The studio system changed almost overnight and many of their most beloved players were out on the street. Peggy was among them. She ended up in 'B' films such as "Bomba, the Jungle Boy", "The Big Cat", and "The Lovable Cheat".

 

Her parents were divorced in 1947 and the young actress, who had a falling out with her mother, went to court to ask that her father be appointed guardian in her mother's place.

 

Not one to mope around, Peggy took to the stage, performing in plays around the country and on live-TV broadcasts. The talent was still there, and she did her work well.

 

Now nineteen, Peggy was crazy about singer Richard Hayes. They married, had a couple good years, then divorced. "We were just too young," says Richard.

A few years later, she met actor Albert Salmi when they were taking the Broadway hit "Bus Stop" on the road. During the eleven months they worked together, Peggy fell in love with Albert. They married shortly after the tour ended and, within a couple years, her longtime dreams had come true: She was happily married, lived in a lovely California home, and had a baby girl of her own. They named the infant Catherine Ann Salmi, putting her initials together to form the nickname "Cas." For reasons that would later seem unimportant, Peggy divorced Albert after seven years of marriage.

 

Miss Garner's final films were in "Teresa", "Black Widow", "The Cat", and Robert Altman's "A Wedding". She also appeared on numerous TV shows.

Her third marriage was to real-estate man Kenyon Foster Brown. This was a very troubled marriage and lasted only a few years. She never married again, although indications were that she deeply regretted having divorced Albert (Salmi would later commit murder/suicide with his second wife).

 

Putting on a lovely smile, she got on with life, learning the real estate business and becoming an agent. A few years later, her love of cars gave her another career opportunity -- that of fleet car executive for an automobile dealership. Peggy happily accepted the position and did so well in it that she got promoted. This was work she really enjoyed; but she still kept in touch with her other agent, the one who got her cast in television shows now and then and an occasional movie. Acting was Peggy's true love and always would be.

 

Sadly, Miss Garner past away on October 16, 1984 from pancreatic cancer. She was 52.

Her only child, Catherine Ann Salmi died in 1995 at age 38 from heart disease.

Peggy's strongwilled mother, Virginia Garner Swainston, had outlived both her only child and her only grandchild

 

The actress has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 

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Hi Mongo,

Thanks very much for throwing light on to the figure of Ray Mala. Except for Eskimo, I've never consciously been aware of Mala's unique career. I think the fact that he had the intelligence (and good luck) to pursue a life in film before and behind the camera, as well as representing indigenous people with considerable dignity and flair, makes him even more interesting. Wouldn't he be a marvelous subject for a documentary about his career and life?

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Thank you, Moira. I'm glad that you enjoyed the profile of Ray Mala. A documentary of his life would be ideal considering his credentials.

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