Ray Mala - Hollywood's First Native American Star

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 20, 2010 06:30pm | Post a Comment


Ray Mala was an Inupiat actor born in Candle, Alaska on December 27th, 1906. In 1925 Mala made his way to Edendale and got a job as a cameraman with Fox Film Corporation, which relocated the following year to Movietone City, in modern Century City.


In 1932, Mala was featured as an actor in Edwin Wing's "documentary," Igloo, which was distributed byUniversal and became a hit. The following year, he appeared as "Mala the Magnificent" in the big budget MGM film, Eskimo. The pre-code film titillated audiences with displays of wife-sharing and co-stared, as Mala's second wife, Japanese-Hawaiian actress, Lotus Long. An enormous success, it led to his becoming the first Native star of the Hollywood Studio Era

In 1935, he rejoined Lotus Long, returning the cultural casting favor playing a Pacific Islander with her in Last of the Pagans (1935). He went on to play mostly Pacific Islanders and Native Americans in Northerns like Robinson Crusoe of Clipper Island and The Jungle Princess (both 1936). June 2, 1937 he took as his bride Galina Kropotkin, a Russian Princess sometimes known as Galina Liss. He then took the year off from acting. 

He returned the following year with Call of the Yukon, The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok and Hawk of the Wilderness (all 1938); Union Pacific, Mutiny on the Blackhawk and Coast Guard (all 1939); Green Hell, Zanzibar, Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, Pago Pago, Girl from God's Country and The Devil's Pipeline (all 1940); Hold Back the Dawn and Honolulu Lu (both 1941); Son of Fury -The Story of Benjamin Blake, The Mad Doctor of Market Street, The Girl from Alaska, The Tuttles of Tahiti and Sgt. Koovuk (all 1942).

At that point, Mala also spent a considerable amount of time behind the camera as a cinematographer. He worked with Joseph LaShelle on many pictures including Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Laura (1944), The Fan (1949), Meet Me After the Show (1951) and Les Misérables (1952). He and his wife had one son, Ted, around 1949.

Mala appeared in front of the camera in one more film, Red Snow (1952). He died after suffering a heart attack on a Hollywood set on September 23rd, in 1952, just 45 years old. His granddaughter, Galina Mala Liss, is a model/actress who has appeared on CSI - Miami, among other titles.

Canada Day -- I Passed For American -or- A Day Without a Canadian

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 1, 2009 05:00pm | Post a Comment


Today is Canada Day, a day no doubt celebrated in a manner designed not to attract too much attention. Canada is the home of the quiet revolution, after all. Most likely, their national day is marked by knowing glances. Such is the Canadian character that their national day is not marked with fireworks, guns in the air or vuvuzelas. Though Candians are stereotyped as quiet, harmless and polite pacifists who eat ketchup chips, how do we reconcile that peaceful image with the knowledge that their main export seems to be ice beer and that when they're not knocking each others teeth out in the hockey rink, they're clubbing baby seals with Neil Peart-like percussive overkill? Indeed, how much do we really know about our neighbors north of the border and the threat they pose? What harm is there in Canadians running Hollywood, you ask? They’re only doing the work Americans won’t, you say. In one three year stretch, the best actress category of the Oscars went to Canadians. Mary Pickford, Norma Shearer and Marie Dressler all took the Oscar back to Canada. That’s $1,500 of gold-plated britannium, or 1,303 loonies.


If movies and TV series like Blade Runner, V, Alien Nation, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Battlestar Galactica and The Day the Earth Stood Still have taught us anything, it’s that when aliens are allowed to live in peace amongst us it’s never a good idea. Though they invariably claim to come in peace, the proper response is that they to go in pieces. Due to blissful American ignorance and our welcoming disposition toward immigrants, most of us are wholly unaware when and how many Canadians are among us. Although a phrenologist could see right through their smiling faces to their true nature, your average American when near a Canadian merely gets a tingling sensation and an inexplicable unease. With good reason too, when one becomes aware of how far reaching Canadian tentacles are in our society… *tingle* cos (Canadian over shoulder)…

Canadians have been in Hollywood since its birth, defining and exporting a Canadian-constructed view of the USA whilst funneling profits back across the border to spend on waffle production, flannel shirts and their communistic healthcare system. Consider, in modern time, the Canadian-directed Titanic, which was designed with soulless calculation and Borg-like effeciency to push America’s collective emotional buttons. As a result it became the highest grossing film of all time. Even in the early days, Canadian filmmaking has always been geared toward making their profits in America. In olden times, actors like Ruby Keeler, Florence Lawrence, Beatrice Lillie, Glenn Ford, Walter Huston, Mary Pickford, Douglas Shearer, Norma Shearer, Jay Silverheels, Fay Wray and Marie Dressler passed as Americans at the expense of our domestic acting force. They were aided from behind the scenes because those pulling the strings were also often Canadian, including Louis B. Mayer, Mack Sennet, Jack Warner, Edward Dmytryk and Arthur Hiller. In modern times, James Cameron, Paul Haggis, Norman Jewison, Lorne Michaels and Ivan Reitman have continued the dirty work begun by the cadre of the secretly-Canadian.

In the book Stardust and Shadows: Canadians in Early Hollywood, author Charles Foster recounts his discovery of the secret Canadian network, then in its initial phase of infiltration, which he learned of through Canadian director Sidney Olcott. Though a complete stranger to the members of the organization, as a fellow Canadian he was embraced merely on the basis of his national origins. Once inside, he met Walter Pidgeon, Deanna Durbin, Fifi D’Orsay and others. He also reveals that Louis B. Mayer was a racialist known to hire Canadian compatriots without audition and purely on the basis of their race.


Firmly entrenched in our movie machine, Canadians have deliberately defined and warped our notions of ourselves. Florence “The Biograph Girl” Lawrence was our first movie star. Mary Pickford was appointed “America’s Sweetheart.” More recently, blond, Canadian, silicone cyborg Pamela Anderson has served as an example of all that is wrong with America and is one of al-qaeda’s main recruitment tools, and she’s not even one of us. What do Margot Kidder and Erica Durance and Kristen Kreuk have in common? All are Canadian and as Lois Lanes and Lana Lang, they’ve portrayed the most desirable women in the world to one as powerful as the Last Son of Krypton, who can fly around the world, reverse time and basically have his pick of most of the world’s three billion women.


Canadians consciously control Hollywood to make themselves seem benign, even American. Behind the scenes, they engage in all kinds of sordid, society-eroding behavior. The alcohol and drug-addled Jack Pickford's efforts to despoil our women were legendary. One of his wives, Olive Thomas, suspiciously died from poisoning. It seems her maple syrup contained lethal doses of cyanide. In an even more sinister case, Canadian Florence La Badie mothered Woodrow Wilson’s child out of wedlock as part of a larger Canadian scheme to take over the White House. Luckily, someone tampered with her brakes and she died in a car crash. Why don’t we hear about the sinister side of Canadians? Obviously because they own the media. Canadian newscaster Peter Jennings rose to the top of his field by carefully making sure to never pronounce “lieutenant” as “left-tenant.” When most foreign actors appear on late night shows, they always have some cute anecdote about the differences between their culture and ours. But you never hear a Canadian talk about their culture. Why not play up their foreignness and enjoy Americans' Canuckphilia? Why? What are they hiding? Is it any coincidence that Canadian Ryan Renolds plays the American in The Proposal who marries a Canadian played by American Sandra Bullock to get her a green card? No, they want to disable our ability to distinguish them from us.


Not only do Canadians try to pass as American, they also try to make us laugh. Although seemingly nonmalignant, laughter can be an insidious tool, used to disarm and distract those who we should remain wary of. Just look at this list of prominent Canadian merry-andrews:

John Candy, Dan Akroyd, Michael J. Fox, Mike Myers, Eugene Levy, Tom Green, Phil Hartman, Michael Cera, Tommy Chong, Hume Cronyn, Jim Carey, James Doohan, Dave Foley, Matt Frewer, Robert Goulet, Will Arnett, Gene Lockhart, Norm MacDonald, Howie Mandel, Rick Moranis, Catherine O'Hara, Matthew Perry, Seth Rogen, Will Sasso, Martin Short and Alan Thicke.


Another tool to make people drop their guard is being really, really good looking. If Canadians can’t make us laugh, they use their Dracula-like powers to seduce us to do their bidding. In moments of clarity, it turns out that many of them aren’t that good looking, but, controlling the media and Hollywood, they set our standard of beauty. If you haven’t watched Lifeforce, you should. Consider:

Sarah Polley, Adam Beach, Raymond Burr, Neve Campbell, Kim Cattrall, Hayden Christensen, Rae Dawn Chong, Elisha Cuthbert, Brendan Fraser, Ryan Gosling, Grace Park, Lorne Greene, Graham Greene, Corey Haim, Michael Ironside, Elias Koteas, Mia Kirschner, Sandra Oh, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Christopher Plummer, Jason Priestly, Keanu Reeves, William Shatner, Donald & Kiefer Sutherland and Jennifer & Meg Tilly.

What can we do? The sad fact is Canadians have attached themselves to Hollywood like so many cybernetic implants that, if now removed, it would kill us. Meanwhile, the entire Canadian-based film and television industry continues to feed off the host that is mainstream America with their secretly Canadian, apparently All-American films like Porky's, Meatballs, Black Christmas, Christmas Story and Johnny Mnemonic that go to great lengths to hide anything recognizably Canadian. Canadian propaganda like True Lies and Crash remind us of our supposed racism whilst simultaneously stoking it, at the same time skillfully avoiding depictions of Canadians. Although the comically profound ignorance about Los Angeles evident in Crash seemed glaring as the sun, it was accepted as deeply insightful and accurate amongst the unfamiliar, easily-swayed and otherwise clueless. It’s like we're in The Matrix.

Interestingly, lest people start wondering why they don’t make any obviously Canadian films, they created their own genre, the Northern. The prospect of watching adventure films about Mounties is so unappealing that, at minimal cost (paid for with the profits of their secretly-Canadian blockbusters), they can with factory-like precision crank out enough films to allay our suspicions, though in reality, like the tax write off films that line our clearance section, they’re not intended for human consumption, either by Americans or Canadians. Have you or anyone you know ever seen or listened to any of these films, television and radio programs?

The Riders of the Plains (1910), Flower of the North (1921), The Flame of the Yukon (1926), The Lodge in the Wilderness (1926), Tiger Rose (1929), O'Malley Rides Alone (1930), Men of the North (1930), The River's End (1931), Riders of the North (1931), Mounted Fury (1931), The Mystery Trooper (1931), Mason of the Mounted (1932), Honor of the Mounted (1932), Mckenna of the Mounted (1932), Clancy of the Mounted (1933), The Trail Beyond (1934), The Fighting Trooper (1934), Courage of the North (1934), Undercover Men (1934), Silent Code (1935), Northern Frontier (1935), Timber Terrors (1935), Wilderness Mail (1935), Fighting Shadows (1935),The Red Blood of Courage (1935), Border Brigands (1935), Code of the Mounted (1935), Trails of the Wild (1935), His Fighting Blood (1935), Skull and Crown (1936), Rose Marie (1936), Caryl of the Mountains (1936), O'Malley of the Mounted (1936), The Country Beyond (1936), Phantom Patrol (1936), Secret Patrol (1936), King of the Royal Mounted (1936), Wildcat Trooper (1936), Renfrew of the Royal Mounted (36-40), Challenge of the Yukon (39-55), Blair of the Mounties, Men in Scarlet, Renfrew of the Royal Mounted (1937), Death Goes North (1938), On the Great White Trail (1938), Heart of the North (1938), On the Great White Trail (1938), The Mysterious Pilot (1938), Fighting Mad (1939), Crashing Thru (1939), North of the Yukon (1939), Blue Montana Skies (1939), Susannah of the Mounties (1939), Outpost of the Mounties (1939), Yukon Flight (1939), Man From Montreal (1939), Murder on the Yukon (1940), Danger Ahead (1940), Sky Bandits (1940), River's End (1940), North West Mounted Police (1940), King of the Royal Mounted (1940), The Royal Mounted Patrol (1941), North of the Rockies (1942), Northwest Rangers (1942), Perils of the Royal Mounted (1942), King of the Mounties (1942), Riders of the Northwest Mounted (1943), Law of the Northwest (1943), Northern Pursuit (1943), Belle of the Yukon (1944), Northwest Trail (1945), The Royal Mounted Rides Again (1945), Neath Canadian Skies (1946), North of the Border (1946), Where the North Begins (1947), Dangers of the Canadian Mounted (1948), Northwest Stampede (1948), Trail of the Mounties (1949), Trail of the Yukon (1949), Wolf Hunters (1949), Mrs Mike (1949), Dog (1950), North of the Great Divide (1950), Call of the Klondike (1950), Gene Autry and the Mounties (1951), Yukon Manhunt (1951), Northwest Territory (1951), The Wild North (1952), Border Saddlemates (1952), Yukon Gold (1952), Pony Soldier (1952), Blue Canadian Rockies (1952), Fangs of the Arctic (1953), Fort Vengeance (1953), Northern Patrol (1953), Canadian Mounties vs Atomic Invaders (1953), Gunfighters of the Northwest (1954), Yukon Vengeance (1954), Rose Marie (1954), Saskatchewan (1954), Perils of the Wilderness (1956), The Canadians (1961), Alien Thunder (1974)

Belle of the Yukonblue canadian rockiescaryl of the mountiescode of the mountedfighting madfighting trooper

honor of the mountedking of the mountedmason of the mountedmrs. mikenorthern frontiernorth of the great divide

northwest trailphantom patrolred blood of couragerenfrew of the royal mountedriders of the plainsriders of the north

rose marieroyal mounted rides againsilent codeskull and crownsky banditssussanah of the mounties

the trail beyondtrail of the mountieswilderness mailyukon flight

I didn’t think so. But, as you can see, some are on DVD. Maybe I'll watch one. I'll have to think aboat it.

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The Death of Old Time Radio

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 30, 2008 12:25am | Post a Comment


On this day (September 30) in 1962 CBS radio broadcast the final episodes of Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and the Golden Age of Radio came to a close. 



Radio Drama (also frequently referred to as Old Time Radio or OTR) really began in the 1920s. Before that, there was audio theater which consisted of plays performed for radio broadcast. It wasn't until August 3, 1922 at the Schenectady, New York station WGY that the in-house actors, The WGY Players, broadcast a performance that augmented the drama with music and sound effects, creating a vivid aural tapestry. The result was a worldwide explosion in what was an instantly popular new art form. Within months there were radio dramas being produced across the USA, as well as in Canada, Ceylon, France, Germany, India, Japanand the UK.


In 1934, the anthology series Lights Out debuted and exploited many of radio's unique qualities to massive success. The program was penned by Wyllis Cooper and aired at midnight. Cooper employed stream of conscious monologues, multiple first-person narrators and internal monologues which were at odds with the characters' spoken dialog. It's most often remembered, however, for its gruesome and explicit sound effects which attempted to suggest joints being ripped from sockets, skin being eviscerated, heads being decapitated and other depictions of violence that would still be pushing the envelope, even on modern cable television programs.


Radio drama's most well-known moment came in 1938 when Orson Welles on the Mercury Theater of the Air broadcast War of the Worlds. Virtually everyone has heard tales about the mass panic that supposedly ensued. It turns out that this supposed reaction may've been invented by newspapers who were threatened by the radio news' growing dominance. Since there are no verifiable reports of nationwide panic, it seems that newspapers were attempting to create a moral panic to save their own skins. Indeed, how likely is it that a people used to  both radio dramas and the instantly recognizable voice of  radio drama mainstay Orson Welles would, for some reason, think that he was acting as a newsman covering a Martian invasion? If Kelsey Grammar was on TV reporting that Earth was being attacked by another planet, would you assume it was real and panic? If your answer is yes, then you are a dullard.



Radio drama began to lose ground in the 1950s for several reasons. Mainly, television (though around for some time) exploded in popularity and, with the novelty of a visual aspect, stole the dramatic thunder from radio (and film too), partially by dumbing down the writing and toning down the violence to broaden its audience. Many radio dramas attempted to make the transfer to television in order to survive. Often this necessitated re-casting key roles because, whilst a voice actor might've sounded the part, they didn't look it.

At the same time, music radio began to make a comeback. Forced by the 1940s writers strike to look elsewhere for music (rather than pay pop songwriters more), music radio popularized previously marginalized music forms like Hillbilly and Rhythm & Blues which grew in popularity and merged into Rock 'n' Roll. The dissemination of this electrifying new development in music was aided by a new recording format, the 45 rpm single. Now families could rock out or veg out on their own and radio rapidly lost ground before going the way of silent film and magic lantern shows.

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