A favorite of Wes Anderson, actor Kumar Pallana died yesterday at the ripe age of 94. He leaves behind an impressive body of work that includes roles in four Anderson films and some of the best and most under-appreciated comedic roles of the last two decades.
Pallana was born in India in 1918, the son of a car salesman. He trained as a gymnast, and upon making his way to the U.S. he found work as a juggler, then a singer, then as type-casted roles in several Westerns. Pallana said in an interview with Dallas Morning News in 2004, "I came to the United States in 1946. Back then, Indians couldn’t even get one foot in the door at the studios. There just weren’t that many roles for Indians. Oh sure, I got work — but I played a different sort of Indian."
Pallana abandoned the film industry eventually, settling down in Dallas with his family to open a yoga studio and coffee shop, called the Cosmic Cup. It was there he met Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson, who had both recently finished college and passed their time playing cards and music at Pallana's cafe while working on their first script, "Bottle Rocket."
The duo cast Pallana in their film debut, and the rest is history. Pallana will live on in the hearts of many, and in the spectacular performances he leaves behind.