Renowned television, film and theater actor Tom Alter passed away on Sept. 29 at his residence in Mumbai. He was 67. Tom Alter was battling type four skin cancer. He is survived by his wife Carol, son Jamie, and daughter Afshaan.
“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,” read a statement issued on behalf of his family.
Following his death, tweets poured in to offer condolence messages.
Sad to hear of demise of veteran actor Tom Alter. He will be remembered by film lovers. Condolences to his family #PresidentKovind
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) September 30, 2017
PM expressed grief on the demise of Shri Tom Alter and recalled his contribution to the film world and theatre. He extended condolences to the family & admirers of Shri Tom Alter.
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) September 30, 2017
RIP Tom Alter…have the fondest childhood memories of seeing him on zabaan sambhal ke… https://t.co/Cvb1zq2OuP
— Arjun Kapoor (@arjunk26) September 30, 2017
The world is a good man short this morning. Fine actor, pure sports lover and kind human being. You enriched our world #TomAlter
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) September 30, 2017
Goodbye to you my trusted friend! 🙏🙏🙏! Actor Tom Alter, a Padma Shri awardee, dies of cancer at 67https://t.co/DkJkHZImO8
— Mahesh Bhatt (@MaheshNBhatt) September 30, 2017
Four Decades Dedicated to Arts
In his career spanning over four decades, Alter acted in more than 300 films and several TV shows. The artiste, who was honored with the Padma Shri in 2008, worked with renowned filmmakers like Satyajit Ray in Shatranj Ke Khilari, and in the Hollywood movie One Night with the King with Peter O’Toole.
Alter is also known for his role was that of gangster Keshav Kalsi, which he played in the television serial Junoon that ran for over five years on Indian television. Apart from being an actor, Alter proved his mettle as a director and as a sports journalist. He was said to be the first person to interview cricket legend, Sachin Tendulkar, when the batsman was yet to debut for India.
Alter also wrote three books, of which two were fictions.
Born as the son of American Christian missionaries of Indian and Scottish ancestry, young Alter spent his childhood at Mussoorie in Uttarakhand. After studying at Yales, Alter returned to India in the early 1970s and became obsessed with acting. In 1972, he got himself enrolled in the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune, and graduated with a gold medal in diploma in acting.
Alter’s first movie to hit the theaters was Charas, in which he played a crucial role of a customs officer alongside superstar Dharmendra. Later, he played pivotal roles in movies like Kranti, Junoon, and Ram Teri Ganga Maili.
During his career, he acted with many acclaimed filmmakers, including Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal, Manoj Kumar, Manmohan Desai, Subhash Ghai and Chetan Anand.
He made his presence felt in regional language films too, the noted one being Priyadarshan’s Malayalam film Kaala Pani, which featured Mohanlal in the lead role. He also acted in some Bengali, Assamese, Telugu, Tamil and Kumaoni films.
His popularity also increased through television serials like Shaktimaan, Captain Vyom, Mere Ghar Aana Zindagi and Yahaan Ke Hum Sikandar. His most recent appearance on television was in Rishton Ka Chakravyuh.
Even in the midst of busy schedules in cinema, Alter always tried to find time to pursue theater. His noted stage works include Maulana, Babur Ke Aulaad, Trisanga and Ghalib Ke Khat.
Sixteen films featuring Alter are currently unreleased.