Kumar Pallana: Actor who worked with Spielberg
Friday 25 October 2013
Kumar Pallana, who died on 10 October at the age of 94, was an Indian character actor with small parts in films such as The Terminal and The Royal Tennenbaums. “He lived life to the fullest,” said his daughter Sandhya Pallana. “It was really wonderful how well he was received and how well he was liked, and that people appreciated his unique and creative style.”
Pallana was a yoga instructor living in Dallas in the mid-1990s when he met Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson, who were working on the film which established both their reputations, the comedy drama Bottle Rocket. They cast Pallana as a bumbling safe-cracker. His thick accent and diminutive stature combined to help him steal scenes and earned him parts in more films, including three more directed by Anderson and one by Steven Spielberg. He was the eccentric airport janitor in Spielberg’s The Terminal, starring Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Kumar Pallana was born on 23 December 1918, in Indore in central India. His father lost his lucrative car dealership when Pallana’s brother was arrested for aiding in the fight against British colonial rule. Pallana dropped out of high school with the goal of becoming an actor, but he could not get seen at the studios in Bombay.
He trained as an acrobat and plate- spinner, touring festivals in India and Africa with his balancing acts. In 1946 he went to work in the United States as Kumar of India. He performed his juggling and acrobatic act on the children’s television series including Captain Kangaroo, The Mickey Mouse Club.
Eventually he opened a yoga studio above his son’s Cosmic Cup coffee shop in Dallas, where the chance meeting with Anderson and Wilson helped to fulfill his dream of becoming an actor. “They were nice kids,” he said in 2004. In 2008 he said in an interview that he entertained “to make people happy”. In August this year he shot a pilot television show in New York.
Despite his age, Kumar Pallana seemed timeless, his daughter Sandhya said. He loved his iPad and iPhone, and drove a Prius until just shortly before his death – “He embraced the moving and changing times of our modern age better than any 90-year-old that can be found today,” she said. Her father had been in good health, she added, but collapsed while getting ready to play bridge with friends. He had been making plans to travel to Dallas to see his first grandchild, whom Sandhya adopted earlier this month in India. “They just missed each other by days,” she said.
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
scienceScientists find the answer to a question that even puzzled Darwin
A very timely Great Train Robbery and a frantic 24 Hours in A&E among the highlights
scienceThe new development in bio-printing technology could be used in the future to restore lost vision - though years of research still await
Geoffrey Macnab: The Wolf of Wall Street's account of white-collar excess is A Rake’s Progress on steroids
arts + entsThe 'Friends' actor on his new role as campaigner on addiction issues
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
Colin Farrell reveals ‘affair’ with Elizabeth Taylor: 'She was my last romantic relationship'
Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
Devyani Khobragade: India-US row escalates over arrest of diplomat in New York
Peter O'Toole: Tales of the late film icon
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber announces he's 'retiring from music'
- 4 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- 5 Status: Wet - Woman walks off a pier while checking Facebook on her phone
- < Previous
- Next >
£18000 - £22000 per annum + Award-Winning Benefits: FCm Travel Solutions: FCm ...
£23000 - £27000 per annum + £18K base & uncapped commission & benefits: Flight...
£22610.19 - £26378.76 per annum + Excellent Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: I...
£85000 - £95000 per annum + Excellent Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: In-Hous...