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Eskimo Star: From the Tundra to Tinseltown the Ray Mala Story Paperback – April 15, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Lael Morgan brings to life the grit, pluck, and drive that enabled Ray Mala to become the most famous indigenous actor and cameraman in Hollywood. Despite poverty and racism, Mala succeeded in an unlikely profession far from home." --William L Iggiagruk Hensley, author of Fifty Miles from Tomorrow

About the Author

Lael Morgan is an award-winning writer, historian, photographer, and journalist who has written numerous books about Alaska, including the popular Art and Eskimo Power. She was named Alaska's historian of the year in 1998 for her work on Good Time Girls.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Epicenter Press; 1st edition (April 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935347128
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935347125
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #467,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a well-written, page-turner of a biography. In detailing the life of Eskimo actor Ray Wise Mala, the author has done years of research and conducted numerous interviews with family, friends and Hollywood friends and co-stars.

ESKIMO STAR give good insight into what it must have been like for Mala, thousands of miles from home, with no one of his cultural background to relate to.

In addition, it gives interesting details of the life of the Eskimo, in early 20th Century Alaska, including the effects of the white man's explorations of the North.

A highly recommended read.
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I found this book very enjoyable----it is a part of Alaskan history that had been lost---I even bought a copy for a friend. I think folks interested in film history as well as those of us here in Alaska would find this worth reading.
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Ray Mala is best remembered as the star of "Robinson Crusoe Of Clipper Island", a beloved Republic movie serial. To my knowledge, he was the only Asian actor to star in an action flick with White sidekicks. That enjoyable film, which is widely available on both VHS and DVD, was certainly groundbreaking. However, author Lael Morgan chooses to focus on an earlier feature-length movie, "Eskimo", which has been long forgotten and is not currently available. She is wrong about it being Mala's most famous film and is to be faulted for giving "Robinson Crusoe" short shrift. However, Ms. Morgan is a competent writer, and she tells us as much as we're liable to ever know about this enigmatic trailblazer of a man. As it turns out, his early life was a constant challenge. With one parent dead, another absent and a step-family who treated him horribly, it's a miracle he survived. That he not only did so but also made a career for himself in Hollywood at the height of racial segregation attests to his tenacity and strong character.

Other than the downplaying of "Robinson Crusoe", I have another strong criticism of this book. Twice, Lael Morgan uses the sexual slur "swish" in reference to Gay men. This was totally uncalled-for! Ray Mala was not Gay and his story does not turn on any Gay relationships; such insulting language wasn't needed to advance the narrative, and it reflects poorly on the author. Still, "Eskimo Star" will be an essential Ray Mala biography until something better comes along. He was incredibly handsome, so a book of publicity shots would make for an excellent companion volume. For sure, anyone who buys "Eskimo Star" will want a DVD copy of "Robinson Crusoe" of Clipper Island" to fully appreciate Mala's charisma and acting skill.
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