Kumar Pallana, ‘Royal Tenenbaums’ Actor, Dies

Kumar Pallana Obit
SGranitz/WireImage

Thesp was a scene stealer in 'Terminal'

Indian actor Kumar Pallana, who played the butler in “The Royal Tenenbaums” and had roles in other Wes Anderson movies, died Oct. 10 at age 94.

Dubbed an “Anderson stalwart” by Variety, Pallana made an impression in the helmer’s pics, from “Bottle Rocket” to “Rushmore” and “Darjeeling Express,” but he was also a scene-stealer in Tom Hanks starrer “The Terminal” as an Indian emigre janitor who takes perverse pleasure in watching people slip across his freshly waxed floors.

Born in India to a car salesman, Pallana immigrated to the U.S. in 1946 after a reversal in family fortunes following Indian independence. Hollywood, however, cast him as a different kind of Indian in oaters such as “Viva Zapata.”

Although Pallana was an extra, he also worked as a juggler, a singer and a yoga instructor among other trades. He was running the Cosmic Cup coffee shop, which friends Anderson, and Luke and Owen Wilson frequented in Dallas, so when they wrote the script for “Bottle Rocket” they had a role for Pallana. But it was in “Royal Tenenbaums” in which he attracted the most attention.

He was recently cast in Danny Trejo thriller “Snap Shot,” which is filming now. The USA Festival in Dallas said it was planning a tribute to the thesp.

Survivors include a son, Dipak.

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