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Kumar Pallana
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Kumar Pallana

Kumar Pallana is an 85-year-old actor who has been performing live all his life, but who has only lately developed something of a cult following for his roles in the Wes Anderson films Bottle Rocket, which marked his feature film debut, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. He has also recently appeared in Danny DeVito's Duplex, with Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore, and the independent film Bomb the System.

Born in the still-colonial India of 1918, Pallana was forced to leave his home country in 1939 because of his activities as a freedom fighter. To earn money to send to his family, he relocated to Kenya and South Africa, where he performed at festivals with extraordinary feats of balance and yoga.

After India gained its independence in 1946, the Pearl S. Buck East/West program invited Pallana to New York to showcase his skills, which he soon developed into a one-man show. Adding juggling rings, spinning plates, rope tricks and magic, he became Kumar of India on the vaudeville/burlesque/county fair circuit.

During the 1950s and '60s, Pallana crisscrossed the globe with a daunting schedule of nightclub performances in Paris, London, Madrid and Casablanca. Ultimately landing in Las Vegas, he began opening for and/or socializing with such legends as Sammy Davis Jr., Martin & Lewis, Harry Belafonte, Jimmy Durante and Milton Berle. During this time, Pallana also demonstrated his amazing chair-balancing prowess on such now-classic television shows as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Mickey Mouse Club and You Asked For It. In addition, he joined Bob Hope's USO tour, performing for the troops in Alaska.

Pallana later settled in Dallas, Texas, where he and his family operated a yoga studio/cafe called The Cosmic Cup. The bohemian spot became a gathering place for artists and students, like Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson who were then attending the University of Texas. The young filmmakers wrote their friend Kumar into their first project, which became the sleeper hit Bottle Rocket.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Kumar Pallana Facts

Height5' 4" (1m63)  How tall is Kumar Pallana compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Not available.