22 June 1950 |
Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India
|Spouse(s)||Carol Evans Alter (m. 1977- present)|
Jamie AlterAfshaan Alter
Early life and education
A native of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India, 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 father was born in Sialkot, now in Pakistan. His elder sister Martha Chen has a PhD in South Asian Studies  and his brother John is a poet and a teacher.
He studied at the Film and Television Institute of India. His major inspiration to enter films was Rajesh Khanna. He confessed in an interview "I still dream of being Rajesh Khanna. For me, in the early 1970s, he was the only hero — romantic to the core, not larger than life, so Indian and real — he was my hero; the reason I came into films and he still is."
He is married, with two children, a son, Jamie, and daughter, Afshaan.
He is a life member of International Film And Television Club & International Film And Television Research Centre of Asian Academy of Film & Television.
Alter taught at St. Thomas school in Jagadhri (Haryana) for $50 a month before taking to films. He worked as a sports teacher at the school. He used to coach cricket in the school. His crisp columns on sport have enthralled readers of popular newspapers and journals to which he contributed for ten years. He loved his job and the small town of Jagadhri. In his own words, "There was something very warm about Jagadhri. I remained a teacher there until the day I watched Rajesh Khanna romance Sharmila in Aaradhna. That was the beginning of my addiction to cinema."
Alter is fluent in Hindi and knowledgeable of Indian culture. He has worked for noted filmmakers like Satyajit Ray in Shatranj Ke Khilari and is remembered for his role as a British officer in Kranti. In Sardar, the 1993 film biography of Indian leader Sardar Patel, which focused on the events surrounding the partition and independence of India, Alter portrayed Lord Mountbatten of Burma. He has also played Indian characters in Indian television series, such as the long-running Junoon, in which he was the sadistic mob lord Keshav Kalsi. He also acted in Hollywood movie One Night with the King with Peter O'Toole.
Sachin Tendulkar's first ever television interview was with Tom Alter, when a 15-year-old Sachin faced a video camera for the first time ever as a cricketer in between practice sessions of his Ranji team Bombay in 1988.
Alter has written such books as The Longest Race, Rerun at Rialto, The Best in the world, and is also a sports journalist with a special interest in cricket, a game on which he has written extensively in publications such as Sportsweek, Outlook, Cricket talk, Sunday Observer and Debonair. He plays cricket for a film industry team MCC (Match Cut Club), which includes Naseeruddin Shah, Satish Shah, Vishal Bhardwaj, Aamir Khan, Nana Patekar, Bhupinder Singh and Amarinder Sangha. He also wrote on cricket in Indian publications. In 1996, he was invited by friend Siraj Syed to Singapore, to do cricket commentary in Hindi, for Indian viewers, on the sports TV channel, ESPN.
In 1996 he appeared in the Assamese-language film Adajya, and in 2007 acted in the theatrical reproduction of William Dalrymple's City of Djinns alongside Zohra Sehgal and Manish Joshi Bismil. He also appeared in a solo play Maulana, based on Maulana Azad for which he has received much critical acclaim. He has also received praise for his role in the art film Ocean of An Old Man, which has been screened at film festivals around the world.
Alter's first cousin Stephen Alter, also born and raised in India, is a notable author and teacher. Both are graduates of Woodstock School, Mussoorie. Alter has also worked as the red robe guru in Mukesh Khanna's TV production Shaktiman (1998–2002). Alter has also acted in the role of a doctor in Bheja Fry, a comedy movie starring Rajat Kapoor.
In April 2011, he acted in a short film Yours, Maria directed by Chirag Vadgama playing the lead role of Matthew Chacha in the movie.
Alter is also a theater actor. In 1977 he along with Naseeruddin Shah and Benjamin Gilani formed a theatre group called Motley Productions. Their first play was Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot, which was staged at Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai, on 29 July 1979. He has been performing at Prithvi Theatre ever since, his latest being an adaptation of Vaikom Muhammad Basheer's My Grandad had an Elephant which was performed on 7 June 2011. He has also worked with the New Delhi theatre group Pierrot's Troupe.
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. 
Alter has lent his voice for authorized Audio Autobiography of Dr. Verghese Kurien, titled 'The Man Who Made The Elephant Dance' which was released on 5 September. 2012 at the hands of Infosys Co-founder and Chairman Narayana Murthy at International Convention Centre, Bombay Stock Exchange, Mumbai. It is conceptualised and produced by Atul Bhide of Om Audio Books.
Appearance in Indian TV serials
Alter appeared in many Indian TV serials and were praised by audience for his acting. In Zabaan Sambhalke he played the role of a British writer, Charles Spencers, who lives in India and wants to learn Hindi language.
|2014||Daptar - The School Bag||Magic Uncle||Marathi language film|
|2014||Honour Killing||Mr. Smith|
|2012||Kevi Rite Jaish||Uncle Sam / Derek Thomas||Gujarati language film|
|2012||M Cream||Mr. Bhardawaj|
|2012||Life Ki Toh Lag Gayi|
|2011||With Love, Delhi!|
|2011||Son of Flower||Major James Edwards|
|2011||Cycle Kick||Football Coach|
|2011||Yours Maria||Matthew Chacha||Short Film|
|2008||Ocean of an Old Man||Thomas - Teacher|
|2008||Colours of Passion Rang Rasiya||Justice Richards|
|2007||Kailashey Kelenkari||Sol Silverstein|
|2007||Bheja Fry||Dr. Shepherd|
|2006||One Night with the King||King Saul (prologue)|
|2006||Alag: He Is Different.... He Is Alone....||Dr. Richard Dyer|
|2005||The Hangman||Father Mathew|
|2005||The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pandey||Watson|
|2005||Viruddh... Family Comes First||Anderson (British Consultate)|
|2005||Bose the foregotton hero||Governor Jackson|
|2004||Loknayak||Abul Kalam Azad|
|2004||Ghar Grihasti||Drug smuggler|
|2004||Mitter Pyare Nu Haal Mureedan Da Kehna||Ghosht Khan|
|2004||Silence Please... The Dressing Room||Cricket coach Ivan Rodrigues|
|2003||Yeh Hai Chakkad Bakkad Bumbe Bo|
|2003||Hatim||King of Paristan|
|2003||Dhund: The Fog||Uncle Tom|
|2002||Love at Times Square|
|2002||Dil Vil Pyar Vyar||Special Appearance|
|2002||Bharat Bhagya Vidhata||Mohammed Jalaudin Ghaznavi|
|2001||On Wings of Fire|
|1989||Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro||Johan - (Jani Hippi)|
|1988||Sone Pe Suhaaga||A doctor|
|1985||Ram Teri Ganga Maili||Karam Singh (Ganga's Brother)|
|1982||Gandhi (film)||A doctor|
|1978||Des Pardes||Inspector Martin|
|1977||Shatranj Ke Khilari||Capt. Weston|
|1976||Charas||Chief Custom Officer|
- "No ‘Alter’native". Screen (magazine). 9 May 2008.
- Hazarika, Sanjoy (6 July 1989). "An American Star Of the Hindi Screen". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
- "Features / Metro Plus : Tom Tom". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 9 August 2008.
- "Multifaceted actor Tom Alter to receive Padma Shri". India eNews. 25 January 2008.
- "Woodstock School News". Woodstock School India. 2 January 2008.
- "Tom Alter". Paritosh Uttam. Retrieved 2011-08-07.
- "Curriculum Vitae of Marty Chen" (PDF).
- Zaman, Rana Siddiqui (13 October 2014). "Delhi is my second home: Tom Alter". The Hindu. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
- "‘I still dream of being Rajesh Khanna'". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 12 July 2009.
- "Tom Alter". Times of India. 2012-04-30. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
- "Tom Alter's Life".
- "Chandigarh Stories". Tribune India. 2003-07-31. Retrieved 2011-08-07.