Kumar Pallana, Royal Tenenbaums Actor, Dead at Age 94
Kumar Pallana, a familiar face in some of director Wes Anderson's most popular films, died on Thursday, Oct. 10, at the ripe age of 94. The yoga instructor-turned-actor would have been 95 in December.
"Dear Papa, you will be missed," his son Dipak Pallana posted on Facebook, listing the beloved actor's dates of birth and death.
Pallana was born in India in 1918, but immigrated to the United States later on in life after receiving training as a gymnast in his home country. Here, he worked as a juggler and a singer (even appearing on The Mickey Mouse Club) before being cast as an actor -- often as a Native American -- in several Western films.
"I came to the United States in 1946. Back then, Indians couldn't even get one foot in the door at the studios," he told the Dallas Morning News in 2004. "There just weren't that many roles for Indians. Oh sure, I got work -- but I played a different sort of Indian."
By the time that Anderson and pal Owen Wilson first met Pallana, the actor had retired from the spotlight and shifted gears completely, opening a yoga studio and a coffee shop in Dallas called the Cosmic Cup. The pair, who were working on the screenplay for their first collaboration, Bottle Rocket, at the coffee shop, asked Pallana to play a minor role in their 1996 movie, and friendships were formed, according to The Huffington Post.
Pallana would go on to play supporting roles in three other Anderson titles, including Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Darjeeling Limited. He also had a role in 2004's The Terminal, starring Tom Hanks.
"Each of us has our own destiny," he told The Dallas Morning News in 2004. "Mine is to be an actor."