Veteran film, television and theatre actor, Padma Shri awardee Tom Alter died at the age of 67 on late Friday night. Alter, also a director and writer, had been battling with stage four skin cancer for a while.
Born in the hill station of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand in 1950, Alter was given the prestigious Padma Shri award for his services in the field of arts and cinema. He was a third-generation American in India who studied at Woodstock School and then at Yale University in the United States, before returning to India in the early 70s.
A statement was released on behalf of his family on Friday: “It is with sadness we announce the death of Tom Alter, actor, writer, director, Padma Shri, and our dear husband and father. Tom passed away Friday night at home with his family and close family members in attendance. We ask for their privacy to be respected at this time.”
Alter is survived by his wife Carol, son Jamie, and daughter Afshaan.
The veteran acted in over 300 films and worked in various TV shows. He was famously known for his role as the gangster Keshav Kalsi in the hit soap opera Junoon in the 1990s.
Apart from acting, Alter also had other talents, he was a sports journalist in the 80s and 90s, and was the first person to interview Sachin Tendulkar for television even before the celebrated cricketer debuted for the Indian cricket team.
He has also written three books — one non-fiction and two fiction — and he ventures into direction too.
Indian actor Tom Alter (R) gestures as he plays the role of coach of the Indian cricket team at the Muhurat (opening shot) of the film ‘Silence Please…The Dressing Room’ at the Brabourne stadium in Bombay,28 November 2003.SEBASTIAN D’SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images
Alter’s first release was Ramanand Sagar‘s Charas in 1976. Among his notable roles are Satyajit Ray‘s Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Shyam Benega’s Junoon, Manoj Kumar‘s magnum opus Kranti, Raj Kapoor‘s Ram Teri Ganga Maili, and Mahesh Bhatt‘s Aashiqui.
Among his foreign films are Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi and One Night with the King, in which he acted opposite his idol, the legendary Peter O’Toole.