Anthony Earl Numkena
|Anthony Earl Numkena|
August 20, 1942 |
Culver City, California, U.S.
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. In 1952, he became the first Native American child to appear in a motion picture in the role of "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 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 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. 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).
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. Retired from the Indian Health Service, Numkena continues to work in the field of medical imaging.