New Delhi, Sept 30: Veteran actor Tom Alter, who died on Saturday, had been inspired by Rajesh Khanna-Sharmila Tagore’s superhit film ‘Aradhana’. The actor had gone to watch the 70s classic with his friends; and was so impressed by their acting that he shun his comfortable career of a teacher to struggle to become an actor. And he could never stop being an ardent Rajesh Khanna fan. He said in an interview in 2009 that Rajesh Khanna was the reason he was in films, and that he still wanted to be Rajesh Khanna.

Tom Alter’s grandparents migrated to India from Ohio in 1916. They went to Lahore from Madras, and settled there. After partition, they decided to remain in Pakistan whereas Tom Alter’s parents moved to India. His father was an American Christian missionaries of English and Scottish ancestry. They lived in Allahabad, Jabalpur and Saharanpur, but they finally settled in Rajpur, Uttar Pradesh, a small town located between Dehradun and Mussoorie in 1954. Tom was born in 1950. He studied in Mussorie’s Woodstock school.

After completing his studies, he got a job at a school in Haryana. He also worked in a hospital in the United States. He returned to India and lived in Jagadhari where he developed a taste for watching movies. He worked in several biographical dramas including ‘Sardar’. He is remembered for his role as a British officer in Kranti. He also acted in Hollywood movie One Night with the King with Peter O’Toole. He was awarded Padma Shri for his contribution to Indian cinema.

In 2017, Tom Alter was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. He passed away on Saturday.