The Veteran film, television and theatre personality and Padma Shri awardee Tom Alter has died of skin cancer at the age of 67. The renowned actor and one-time sports writer and author had been battling stage four skin cancer.
He died peacefully in the presence of all his family members at his residence here on Friday night, according to a statement issued by his wife and children. "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", the statement said.
Born in the hill station of Mussoorie in 1950, Tom acted in over 300 movies apart from numerous TV shows, most famously as the gangster Keshav Kalsi in the hit soap opera Junoon which ran for a record five years during the 1990s. A sports journalist by profession in the 80s and 90s, Tom also ventured into direction and has written three books, one non-fiction and two fiction. In 2008, he was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri by the Indian government in recognition of his services to the field of cinema.
Alter's first release was Ramanand Sagar's Charas in 1976, in which he played the role of superstar Dharmendra's boss, a CID official. Among his notable roles during the first decade of his acting career were Satyajit Ray's Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977), Shyam Benegal's Junoon (1979), Manoj Kumar's magnum opus Kranti (1981) and Raj Kapoor's Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985). Other notable directors, he worked with during the 70s and 80s were V Shantaram, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Manmohan Desai, Subhash Ghai, Chetan Anand - who gave him his first break in the Dev Anand- starrer Saheb Bahadur - and Vidhu Vinod Chopra.
The prominent among his other films include Mahesh Bhatt's Aashiqui, Junoon and Gumrah, Ketan Mehta's Sardar and Priyadarshan's Kala Pani. He also acted in regional cinema - Bengali, Assamese, Telegu, Tamil and Kumaoni films. Among his foreign films are Richard Attenborough's Gandhi and One Night with the King.
On TV, Alter's leading work came in Junoon, Zabaan Sambhalke, Jugalbandi, Bharat EK Khoj, Ghutan, Shaktimaan, Captain Vyom, Mere Ghar Aana Zindagi and Yahaan Ke Hum Sikandar. Most recently, he was seen in a pivotal role in the ongoing serial Rishton Ka Chakravyuh on Star Plus. At the time of his death, Alter had approximately 16 unreleased films lined up as well as a web series by Eros Now titled Smoke.