Well-known actor Tom Alter passes away

Tom Alter
Tom Alter
Well-known film and theatre actor Tom Alter passed away at his residence here on Friday after losing a battle with skin cancer.
He was 67. He is survived by his wife Carol Evans, son Jamie Alter, a sports journalist, and daughter Afshaan.
According to sources, Alter was being treated for stage four of squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer, at a Mumbai hospital, where he had been admitted earlier this month. He returned home on Thursday and breathed his last on Friday night, they said.
"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," a statement issued by the family said.
During an illustrious career of more than four decades, Alter acted in more than 300 movies and in several television series and plays.
Thomas Beach Alter was born on June 22, 1950 at Landour near Musoorie, now in Uttarakhand, to American Christian missionaries of English and Scottish ancestry, who had made India their home.
His grandparents migrated to India from Ohio, United States in November 1916, arriving first in Madras, now Chennai and later settling down in Lahore. His father was born in Sialkot, now in Pakistan.
After the partition of India, his parents moved to India and lived in Allahabad, Jabalpur and Saharanpur before finally settling down in Rajpur, a small town between Dehradun and Mussoorie in present-day Uttarakhand in 1954. His elder sister, Martha Chen, has a PhD in South Asian Studies from University of Pennsylvania and teaches at Harvard University. His brother John is a poet and a teacher.
Alter picked up fluent Hindi at Woodstock School in Mussoorie and later went to study at Yale, but returned after a year. He worked as a school teacher and worked at various other jobs, but somewhere along the way was bitten by the Hindi film bug, especially after watching Rajesh Khanna in Aradhana. He finally ended up enrolling at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune and studied acting there from 1972-74 with  Naseeruddin Shah, Benjamin Gilani and Shabana Azmi among his fellow-students.
He made his debut in HIndi movies in 1976 with a small role in Charas and went on to appear in films such as Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Gandhi, Krant, Bose: The Forgotten Hero, Veer Zara, Junoon, Ram Teri Ganga Maili, Aashiqui, Gumrah, Sardar, Kala Pani and Parinda. He worked with top directors such as Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal, Raj Kapoor, Manoj Kumar, V. Shataram, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Manmohan Desai, Subhash Ghai, Chetan Anand, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Mahesh Bhatt and Ketan Mehta.
He also acted in several films in Bengali, Assamese, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kumaoni. Foreign films he appeared in included Gandhi and One Night with the King.
He also appeared in the much-acclaimed television series Zabaan Sambhalke (1993-97), an adaptation of the British sitcom Mind Your Language, which also featured Pankaj Kapoor. He was also part of TV shows such as Shaktiman and Captain Vyom, which were popular with children. He also did the role of the gangster Keshav Kalsi in the hit television series Junoon in the 1990s.
He remained active in theatre throughout his career and played Mirza Ghalib in the play Ghalib in Delhi.
In 1977, Naseeruddin Shah, Benjamin Gilani and he formed a theatre group called Motley Productions, which has produced many plays over the years. He also worked with New Delhi theatre group Pierrot's Troupe.
Among other things, he dabbled in direction and also worked as a sports journalist in the 1980s and 1990s. He has written three books, including two works of fiction.
The Government honoured him with the Padma Shri, the country's fourth highest civilian honour, in 2008 for his services to the field of arts and cinema.


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