Indian character actor Kumar Pallana died on October 10 at the age of 94, according to his daughter, who confirmed the actor’s sudden death.
Pallana had small roles in movies like The Terminal and The Royal Tennenbaums, reports ABC News. His daughter, Sandhya Pallana, stated of her father, “He lived life to the fullest.”
Pallana got his acting break while working as a yoga instructor in Dallas in the mid-1990s. He met Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson while the pair were working on their breakout movie Bottle Rocket. They eventually cast him as a bumbling safe cracker.
From there, it was history. Pallana’s thick accent and small stature helped him earn parts in several more films, including three more directed by Anderson and one by Steven Spielberg.
Sandhya Pallana explained that her father was in good health, despite his age, but collapsed while he was getting ready to play bridge with friends. He died at the home he shared with his son in Oakland.
Before his career in acting, Kumar Pallana spent decades on the vaudeville circuit as Kumar of India, notes The New York Times. He spun plates and performed feats of dexterity. Pallana played shows in Las Vegas, which were attended by people like Sammy Davis Jr. and Barry Belafonte.
Anderson wrote of Pallana, “He had a certain wise serenity and tremendous charisma. But he was also inclined to do rope tricks and laugh wildly, hysterically, at extreme length.” While he always played small roles in film, critics agreed Pallana always found a way to steal the show, usually with fantastic deadpan expressions.
The Terminal is a great example, where Pallana played an airport janitor who loved seeing travelers slip on his freshly mopped floors. He declared, “This is the only fun I have.” The actor once commented that he entertained “to make people happy.”
No information was given on funeral arrangements for Kumar Pallana.