Tom Alter is being treated for Stage 4 skin cancer and this news has been confirmed by his family. He was admitted earlier also to the hospital for some ailment but was later discharged. This news has come like a bolt from the blue to the family and film fraternity.
Earlier there were reports that the actor is suffering from stage 4 bone cancer but his son Jamie has clarified that his father is suffering from squamous cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer).
Honoured with Padam Shri award by the Indian govt. in 1980, Tom Alter started his career in theatre. His firangi looks and chaste Hindi made him quite popular in Bollywood where he essayed innumerable roles as a Britisher. This versatile actor is known for his protean variety of roles in TV serials but theatre remains his first love.
The Indian actor of American descent was born in Mussoorie in 1950 and got married in 1977 to Carol Evans and is blessed with 2 sons, Jamie Alter and Afshaan Alter. Tom Alter is the son of American Christian missionaries of English and Scottish ancestry and has lived for years in Mumbai and the Himalayan hill station of Landour. His grandparents migrated to India from Ohio, the United States in November 1916, when they arrived in Madras (now Chennai) by ship. From there, they went by train to Lahore where they settled. His father was born in Sialkot, now in Pakistan.
As a child, Alter studied Hindi among other subjects in Mussoorie, consequently, he has occasionally been referred to as the "Blue-eyed saheb with impeccable Hindi. He was attracted to stardom after watching Aradhana featuring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore at Jagadhri where he worked as a teacher, at St. Thomas School, Jagadhri, in Haryana.
His love and passion for Bollywood increased and he continued to be fascinated with movies. Ultimately, he turned his fantasy to reality by moving to Film and Television Institute of India in Pune, where he studied acting from 1972 to 1974 under Roshan Taneja. He went on to learn Urdu which helped him tremendously in his career.
Tom made his Bollywood debut in 1976 with a small role in Dharmendra-starrer Charas and later went on to work in films like Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Gandhi, Kranti, Aashiqui (1990), Bose: The Forgotten Hero and Veer Zara and Bheja Fry.
He has also acted in a number of TV shows like Bharat Ek Khoj, Captain Vyom, Shaktimaan, Yahan Ke Hum Sikandar, Samvidhaan and The Great Maratha. But it was his sitcom Zabaan Sambhalke (1993-1997) that made him a household name. The series, also starring Pankaj Kapoor, was the adaptation of British sitcom, Mind Your Language (1977).
Presently, he is performing in TV serials such as Khamosh Sa Afsana (as a Husain Baba), telecast on India's state-owned network, Doordarshan. Since November 2014, he is playing Sahir Ludhianvi in a stage production based on life and work of the famous Urdu poet and film-lyricist.