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Anthony Earl Numkena

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki
Anthony Earl Numkena
Born (1942-08-20) August 20, 1942 (age 78)
Culver City, California, U.S.
🏳️ Nationality
🎓 Alma materUniversity of California, Riverside
💼 Occupation
📆 Years active  1952–1958
👩 Spouse(s)Nora Numkena

Anthony Earl Numkena, formerly known as Keena Nomkeena (born August 20, 1942) is a Hopi/Karok Indian who was a child actor from 1949–1958. He is the first of five children born to Anthony (Hopi) and Margaret (Karok) Numkena. Not the first native American child to appear on the screen, he became in the 1950s the first native American credited with the professional role of "child actor" in a long series of films in cinema and television.[1]


Numkena began his career in the entertainment industry at the age of seven, having worked as an extra in The Tim McCoy Show, starring Colonel Tim McCoy and Iron Eyes Cody, broadcast on KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles. He worked with his brother, Ronald, who appeared on the show as Little Sitting Bull. As a condition of being extras, Anthony and Ronald acquired working permits from the City of Los Angeles. These permits led to the boys being contacted by various studios to work as extras in the Greater Los Angeles Area. At the time, a significant number of Native Americans worked as extras in motion pictures.

Numkena was not the first native American child to appear on the screen.[2] But in the 1950s he became the first native American credited with the professional role of "child actor" in a long series of films in cinema and television.[3] Before him leading roles of native American children featured "white" actors, as in the case of Little Beaver, the "saddle pal" of Red Ryder, who appeared in numerous films in the 1940s, played by "white" child actors Tommy Cook,[4] Robert Blake,[5] and Don Reynolds.[6]

In 1952, Numkena had his first important role as "Comes Running", an Indian boy adopted by a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in the film Pony Soldier, starring Tyrone Power and Cameron Mitchell.

Numkena continued to appear in films: Strange Lady in Town, Escape to Burma, Alaska Seas, Red Garters, and Westward Ho, the Wagons! (as Little Thunder), and on television: The Loretta Young Show (as Tawa), The Sheriff of Cochise (syndicated), and the Mickey Mouse Club.

He appeared in all twenty-six episodes of the CBS western Brave Eagle, which aired in the 1955–1956 season. He played "Keena" (having then used the similar screen name Keena Nomkeena), the adopted son of Brave Eagle, a fictitious Cheyenne chief.[7] The starring role was played by Keith Larsen (1924–2006). Other co-stars were Kim Winona (1930–1978) as Morning Star, and Bert Wheeler (1895–1968) as Smokey Joe. Numkena's last acting role was as Little Hunter in the 1958 episode "A Man Called Horse" of NBC's Wagon Train starring Ward Bond (1903–1960) and guest star Ralph Meeker (1920–1988).[8]

Until 1962, Numkena lived in Redondo Beach, California. He was graduated from Aviation High School in 1960. He was a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman. He is a graduate from University of California Riverside. He and his wife, Nora, reside in Phoenix, Arizona.[9] Retired from the Indian Health Service, Numkena continues to work in the field of medical imaging.


  1. Anthony Numkena, in boyactors.org.uk
  2. Michael Hilger, Native Americans in the Movies: Portrayals from Silent Films to the Present (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015).
  3. Anthony Numkena, in boyactors.org.uk
  4. Adventures of Red Ryder, movie serial, 12 episodes (1940). See Tommy Cook, in imdb.com
  5. Red Ryder, movie serial, 23 episodes (1944-47). See Robert Blake, in imdb.com
  6. Red Ryder, movie serial, 4 episodes (1949). See Don Reynolds, in imdb.com
  7. II, Clint C. Wilson; Gutierrez, Felix; Chao, Lena (2012-10-03). Racism, Sexism, and the Media. SAGE. p. 84. ISBN 9781452217512. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  8. "Anthony Numkena". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved January 16, 2009.
  9. Net Detective, People Search

External links[edit]

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