SABU CHILD ACTOR SIGNED IN BLUE INK CANDID VINTAGE PHOTO MEASURING 4 X 5 1/4 INCHES. PHOTO BY AL MARLAND OF BRUSSELS.BANGALORE: When Sabu Dastagir, the boy mahout from Mysore, made his maiden appearance in Robert Flaherty's. In 1935, he captured the imagination of the West.
Sabu was an enigma to begin with, an exotic savage straight out of the backyard of. S'Toomai of the Elephants', explains film critic Prof N Manu Chakravarthy. By the mid-1930s, people in the West had some inkling of images defining such exotic people through their experience from colonialism. More importantly, these images found their connection to anthropological works, which correlated to.
And its natives, he explains. And Sabu too, was looked at as an object of curiosity. "Such imagery was construed as the civilization of the'other';'civilization' of course, being the West, " he adds. Intersecting such world views, Flaherty, the man behind the epic film'Nanook of the North', decided to travel to Mysore in pursuit of his lead character for the Kipling-inspired story'Elephant Boy'. He found Sabu, a budding mahout in the Maharajah's stable.In fact, Rajkumari Urmila Devi, the late Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar's niece, grew up on stories about Sabu. My mother, Rani Vijaya Devi, met Sabu when he was young and talked to me of his days in the palace. She felt it was an amazing opportunity for Sabu to be discovered by Flaherty. Mother knew Flaherty as well - his daughter married a famous Dutch taxidermist who lived in Mysore, says Urmila.
In recent times, as honorary secretary of the International Music and Arts Society founded by her mother Rani Vijaya Devi, Urmila chanced upon'Elephant Boy' and approached NGMA Bangalore to screen it. The film is reminiscent of a wonderful era. Screening it gives us the opportunity to connect with it, she said.Although the'Elephant Boy' doesn't have the same novelty as it did in the the 1930s or even the 1970s, when Chakravarthy first saw it. I'm a Mysore boy and grew up on stories about Sabu, until I first saw the'Elephant Boy' while in college. I came face to face with the legend who had also grown up in NR Mohalla, Mysore.
I recalled my schoolteacher's tales of how Flaherty came looking for his hero to Mysore, he reminisces. Sabu walked into the film by just being himself. "Flaherty was a keen observer of humans and the society, " says documentary filmmaker Chalam Bennurkar, adding, He was able to get through the everydayness of life. He saw beauty in ordinary life, shot it himself in his one-unit camera and gave it character with poetic charm.Flaherty became acquainted with Nanook when he took up an exploration job in Canada and later, Sabu in Mysore. Sabu went on to become an actor of many hues between the colonial era and later in his short life of 39 years, till he died in 1963.
Today,'Elephant Boy' is creative exposure to us city-bred people, who have over the years shed stereotypical notions of our. Britain's first above-the-title film star of Indian origin - indeed, for many years India's only truly international star - Sabu's own life story was as unlikely and fantastic as that of many of the characters he played. Despite his lack of acting experience and a less than perfect command of English, it's easy to see from his opening straight-to-camera narration alone just why the veteran documentarist Robert Flaherty was literally charmed into casting him as Toomai, the title role of Elephant Boy (1937). His full name is the subject of some controversy. Most reference books have it as'Sabu Dastagir', but his son Paul confirmed that his real name was Selar Sabu, although his brother's was Sheik Dastagir.Sabu was born on 27 January 1924 in Karapure, Mysore, in southern India and his early life has many parallels with Toomai's: his mother died when he was very young and he was raised by his father, a mahout, or elephant driver. When he too died in 1931, the six-year-old Sabu was taken into the service of the Maharajah of Mysore, first as a stable boy, then as a mahout in his own right, and it was when riding one of his beloved elephants that Flaherty first saw him when looking for someone to play Rudyard Kipling's Toomai of the Elephants (from'The Jungle Book'). Although the end result garnered mixed reviews, Sabu's performance was universally praised and the film a box-office hit, and Alexander Korda quickly signed him up to a long-term contract.
The first fruit of this was The Drum d. Zoltán Korda, 1938, his first Technicolor production, though as Korda wanted to keep a much tighter rein on the budget it was largely shot in Wales. But Sabu's winning performance as heroic young Prince Azim showed that he had real range as an actor, cemented by his third, best-known role as Abu, The Thief of Bagdad (1940), a notoriously piecemeal production shot on both sides of the Atlantic and with six directors holding the reins (Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell and Tim Whelan credited, along with Alexander and Zoltán Korda and William Cameron Menzies).
It is not entirely thanks to Sabu that none of this is apparent from the finished film, one of the most richly imaginative fantasies ever put on screen, but he certainly deserves a major share of the credit. Sabu remained in Hollywood for the duration of World War II.
He remained in Hollywood after his contract expired, signing with Universal Pictures to make a quartet of films opposite Maria Montez, becoming a US citizen in 1944 and flying several missions for the US Air Force as a tail-gunner towards the end of the war. Returning to Britain in 1946, Sabu teamed up with Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger for his last two British films. By far the best of these, the exotic Technicolor extravaganza, Black Narcissus (1947) cast him as the young general, a relatively brief but pivotal role in which he sports the scent that gives the film its title and runs off with young village girl Kanchi (Jean Simmons). The End of the River (1947) gave him another leading role, but this Powell-Pressburger production directed by former editor Derek Twist was over-ambitious and under-developed, and failed to make much of its authentic Brazilian locations.
That said, Sabu acquitted himself very well in the complex part of Manoel, a young Amazonian Indian sucked into a world of moral and political corruption. After this, Sabu left Britain for good and spent the rest of his career making relatively undistinguished Hollywood films and building a successful career in property. He died of a heart attack at a shockingly young 39 shortly after completing his first Disney film (A Tiger Walks, US, 1963), and was buried in Hollywood's famous Forest Lawn cemetery. Sabu Dastagir (or Selar Shaik Sabu, depending on your resource) was born on January 27, 1924, in the little town of Mysore, India, which is nestled in the jungles of Karapur. The son of an elephant driver (mahout) in service for the Maharajah of his town, the young stable boy learned responsibility early in life when, at age 9, his father died and Sabu immediately became the ward of the royal elephant stables.
As with many Hollywood success stories, good timing, and dumb luck allowed the impoverished youth a chance for a better life. By sheer chance the timid 12-year-old orphan was discovered by a British location crew while searching for a youth to play the title role an elephant driver! In their upcoming feature Elephant Boy (1937). Quite taken aback by his earnest looks, engaging naturalness and adaptability to wild animals and their natural habitat, the studio handed the boy a film career on a sterling silver platter and was placed under exclusive contract by the mogul Alexander Korda himself.Sabu and his older brother (as guardian) were whisked away to England to complete the picture and became subsequent wards of the British government. They were given excellent schooling in the process and Sabu quickly learned the English language in preparation for his upcoming films. Elephant Boy (1937) was an unqualified hit and the young actor was promptly placed front and center once again in the film The Drum (1938) surrounded by an impressive British cast that included Raymond Massey and Valerie Hobson. With the parallel success of the Tarzan jungle movies in America, Hollywood starting taking a keen look at this refreshingly new boy talent when he first arrived in the U.
For a publicity tour of the film. Again, his second film was given rave reviews, proving that Sabu would not be just a one-hit wonder.His third film for Korda is considered one of the great true classics. In the Arabian fantasy-adventure The Thief of Bagdad (1940), Sabu plays Abu the Thief and is not only surrounded by superb actors -- notably June Duprez, John Justin, Rex Ingram (as the genie) and Conrad Veidt (as the evil Grand Vizier) -- but exceptional writing and incredible special effects. Sabu's name began stirring international ears.
The movie was directed by Alexander's brother Zoltan Korda. Following this triumph, Sabu officially became the exotic commodity of Universal Pictures and he settled in America. Although initially rewarding monetarily, it proved to be undoing. Unfortunately (and too often typical), a haphazard assembly-line of empty-minded features were developed that hardly compared to the quality pictures in England under Korda.
Saddled alongside the unexceptional Maria Montez and Jon Hall, his vehicles Arabian Nights (1942), White Savage (1943) and Cobra Woman (1944) were, for the most part, drivel but certainly did fit the bill as colorful, mindless entertainment. Almost 20 years old by the time he became a citizen of the U. In 1944, he enlisted in the Army Air Force and earned WWII distinction in combat missions (Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, among others) as a tail gunner.Post-war audiences developed new tastes, but Sabu had no choice but to trudge on with retreads of his former glory. Films such as Tangier (1946) again opposite Ms. Montez, Man-Eater of Kumaon (1948) and Song of India (1949) opposite lovely princess Gail Russell did little to advance his career. While filming the last-mentioned movie, Sabu met and married actress Marilyn Cooper who temporarily filled in for an ailing Ms.
The couple went on to have two children. Sabu actually fared better back in England during the late 40s, starring in the crime drama The End of the River (1947) and appearing fourth-billed as a native general in the exquisitely photographed Black Narcissus (1947). Daring in subject matter, the film had Deborah Kerr heading up a group of Anglican nuns who battle crude traditions, unexpected passions and stark raving madness while setting up a Himalayan order. By the mid-50s Sabu's career was rapidly approaching extinction, seeking work wherever he could find it - in low-budget Europe productions, public appearances, etc. An attempt to conjure up a TV series for himself failed.His life was further aggravated by unpleasant civil and paternity suits brought about against him. His last two pictures were supporting roles in Rampage (1963), which starred Robert Mitchum, and A Tiger Walks (1964), a thoroughly routine Disney picture which was released posthumously. Sabu died unexpectedly at age 39 of a heart attack on December 2, 1963, at his home in Southern California and was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in the Hollywood Hills. Son Paul Sabu developed into an accomplished songwriter and even formed a rock band called Sabu; daughter Jasmine Sabu, who died in 2001, was a noted horse trainer whose skill was utilized occasionally for films. Although he went the way of too many of our former stars, Sabu continues to enchant and excite newer generations with his unmatched athletic skills and magnetic charm in those early adventure fantasies of yesteryear. Sabu's role of Toomai in the'Elephant Boy' was originally a minor one with the focus being on the other actors and the elephants. When the early rushes were viewed Sabu's naturalness and photogenic quality stood out which, combined with his way with the animals, caused the script to be re written giving him a major part. This made it necessary for him to be taken to England for studio work on the film. The premiere, on 7 April 1937, and Sabu were such a success that Alexander Korda had the film'The Drum' written especially for him. Sabu Dastagir (born Selar Sabu; 27 January 1924 - 2 December 1963) was an Indian film actor who later gained United States citizenship.
He was normally credited only by his first name, Sabu, and is primarily known for his work in films during the 1930s-1940s in Britain and America.  He was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.
Born in 1924 in Karapur, Mysore, Kingdom of Mysore, then a Princely State of British India, and raised as a Muslim,  Sabu was the son of an Indian mahout (elephant rider). While most reference books list his full name as "Sabu Dastagir" (which was the name he used legally), research by journalist Philip Leibfried suggests that his full name was in fact Selar Sabu. His brother Shaik Dastagir (whose name Leibfried suggests was the source of confusion surrounding Sabu's full name) managed his career.  His brother was killed in 1960 in a robbery of his furniture store, a failing business jointly owned by the two men.
When he was 13, Sabu was discovered by documentary film-maker Robert Flaherty, who cast him in the role of an elephant driver in the 1937 British film Elephant Boy. This was adapted from "Toomai of the Elephants", a story by Rudyard Kipling.
In 1938 producer Alexander Korda commissioned A. Mason to write The Drum as a starring vehicle for the young actor. Sabu is perhaps best known for his role as Abu in the 1940 British film The Thief of Bagdad. Director Michael Powell said that Sabu had a "wonderful grace" about him. In 1942 Sabu played another role based on a Kipling story, namely Mowgli in Jungle Book directed by Zoltán Korda, which was shot entirely in California.  He starred alongside Maria Montez and Jon Hall in three films for Universal Pictures: Arabian Nights (1942), White Savage (1943) and Cobra Woman (1944). After becoming an American citizen in 1944, Sabu joined the United States Army Air Forces and served as a tail gunner and ball turret gunner on B-24 Liberators. He flew several dozen missions with the 370th Bombardment Squadron of the 307th Bomb Group in the Pacific, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his valor and bravery. His career declined after World War II as he was unable to secure equivalent roles in Hollywood that British films had offered. He occasionally did gain significant parts, such as his supporting role in the British film Black Narcissus (1947). Through most of the 1950s he starred in largely unsuccessful European films. In 1952, he starred in the Harringay Circus with an elephant act. He was considered for the role of Birju in Mehboob Khan's 1957 film Mother India which would have marked his debut in Hindi films but he was denied a work permit and the role ended up going to Sunil Dutt. Sabu never got to appear in a film made in his native country. In 1963, he made a comeback to Hollywood with a supporting role in Rampage opposite Robert Mitchum. He played another supporting role alongside Brian Keith in the Disney film A Tiger Walks. This would turn out to be his final role as he died three months before the film was released. On 19 October 1948, Sabu married little-known actress Marilyn Cooper (whose only film part, as Princess Tara in Song of India in 1949, was not credited), with whom he had two children. Their marriage lasted until his death. Their son Paul Sabu established the rock band Sabu in the 1980s, and their daughter Jasmine Sabu was an animal trainer on various films; she died in 2001. Sabu was the subject of a paternity suit that resulted in a published opinion by the California Court of Appeal, Dastagir v. Sabu was sued by an infant girl born in 1948, through her mother, an unnamed, unmarried English actress, who claimed to have had an affair with Sabu, and that he was the infant's father. This section does not cite any sources.
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(November 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message). On 2 December 1963, Sabu died suddenly in Chatsworth, California, of a heart attack, a month before his 40th birthday.  He is interred at the Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery. His wife said in a television interview that two days before his death, during a routine medical check, his doctor told him: "If all my patients were as healthy as you, I would be out of a job".Sabu in Hello Elephant (1952). The End of the River.
Sabu and the Magic Ring. In April, 1937, the film marking the first collaboration between noted documentary filmmaker Robert J.Flaherty, creator of Nanook of the North, Moana, and Man of Aran, and a major studio, Alexander Korda's London Films, was released. Based on a tale from The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling, "Toomai of the Elephants", and called Elephant Boy, it introduced one of the most refreshing personalities to appear on the screen in years.
Discovered by Flaherty during a search for the lead in Elephant Boy, 11 year old Selar Shaik Sabu Sabu's true name. The name "Dastagir", found in so many reference works, is actually his brother's first name.
Was serving the Maharajah of Mysore as a mahout (elephant driver), just as his father had done before him. Sabu was born on Jan.
27, 1924, in Karapur, Mysore, in southern India. His mother's family (she died shortly after his birth) had come from Assam in north eastern India, where the people are part Mongolian. His father took over the task of raising Sabu, even teaching his elephant to rock the little boy's cradle. When his father died in 1931, Sabu was made the Maharajah's ward. Four years later, Sabu was chosen as the lead in Elephant Boy.
Filming began in the spring of 1935, but bad weather held up any real work until later that year. Sett, honorary personal assistant to the prime minister of Mysore, recalled his meeting with Flaherty in a letter to Paul Rotha, Flaherty's biographer, Was it a nice biography, full of Flaherty flattery? (sorry, couldn't resist it) in 1958: My most treasured memory of this day is of Sabu... He made his appearance slowly, astride an elephant, and there they stood in the middle of the very large compound for all the world to see.Very thin and naked save a small lungi wound round his legs and his head tightly covered with a white turban in the typical southern way... The manner in which he handled the ponderous, lumbering elephant was enough to stir one's confidence and trust in him. Later in the same letter, he stated: Years later, Sabu dined with me informally and alone... I told him how and where I first saw him... This time he did not make his appearance on an elephant. He arrived in a luxurious Cadillac. He was most elegantly clad, not in a tight turban and skimpy lungi, I can assure you. And he spoke with a distinct American accent.
Indeed, Sabu's cleverness and charm were what most impressed Flaherty and his wife Frances, who wrote of their Indian sojourn in her book, Elephant Dance, published in 1937. Though it received mixed reviews, Elephant Boy was popular with the public, due mainly to Sabu, who became an instant star. With a smile as broad as the Ganges and charm enough to lure the stripes off a tiger, the young Indian also added the authenticity needed in the lead role. The fledgling performer was taken to England to promote the film, which was the official British entry at the Venice Film Festival that year where it won the award for best direction shared by Flaherty and Zoltan Korda, who directed the studio sequences shot in London.
He was taken on a tour of the British capital; there he broadcast over the BBC, televised at Alexandra Palace, sat for a sculpture by Lady Kennet and a portrait by Egerton Cooper. On the basis of this initial success, Sabu was rushed into his second film, The Drum, based on the novel by A. Filmed in the hills of South Wales, The Drum is the story of the friendship of an English drummer boy and an Indian prince whose father is assassinated by the boy's uncle, who plans a massacre of the British troops at a banquet. The prince discovers the plot and alerts the British by signalling his friend on a large drum.
Shot in Technicolor and directed by Zoltan Korda, it holds up very well today. Sabu's third picture is undoubtedly his finest vehicle. Similar in story to the Douglas Fairbanks film of the same name, The Thief of Bagdad is one of the most wonderfully realized fantasy films ever produced. It contains all the elements of which dreams are made: a beautiful princess (June Duprez), a malevolent vizier (played to the hilt by Conrad Veidt), a genie in a bottle (superbly portrayed by black actor Rex Ingram), a fabulous jewel, a hidden temple, a giant spider, and a flying carpet - all presented in vivid Technicolor by design experts William Cameron Menzies (who had worked on the original film) and Vincent Korda. Directorial credit was shared by Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell and Tim Whelan.
Sabu played Abu, a young orphan who lives by his wits and nimble fingers. He becomes involved in aiding a deposed king (John Justin) regain his throne and win the hand of the princess. He experiences several adventures involving the aforementioned characters before he meets a group of sages in a golden tent in a wilderness. They inform him that he is the prince for whom they've been waiting for centuries, ever since men lost their sense of wonder. All things are possible when seen through the eyes of youth.The head illuminate tells him. He then presents Abu with a magic crossbow to assist him in his mission.
The young thief then performs his final theft when he purloins the sapient's flying carpet to get him to Bagdad as quickly as possible. He arrives back in the nick of time, saving the king from decapitation and dispatching Veidt's vizier with a bolt from the crossbow. In the end he is offered a fine education and a position at court, but opts for fun and freedom. He then rides off into a rainbow aboard the flying carpet.
No actor ever enjoyed a role more than Sabu did his in The Thief of Bagdad, and his enjoyment is infectious. In truth, he was a youth, living a fantasy and knew it, so he reacted, rather than acted. Filing of The Thief of Bagdad took over two years, due to Britain's entry into World War II. Operations had to be shifted to Hollywood in order to complete the production.Some location shooting was also done, notably at the Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert. This delay precluded Sabu's accepting the title role in RKO's 1939 release, Gunga Din; the part went to Sam Jaffe. So aware was Jaffe of the appropriateness of the personality he was replacing that he admitted that in order to give the best performance possible, he kept two words always in mind: Think Sabu. When finally released on Christmas Day, 1940, The Thief of Bagdad was deservedly a smash hit, as well as winning Oscars for color cinematography, color art direction, and visual and sound special effects.
The former mahout's final film for Korda was another excursion into Kipling. The Jungle Book, released in 1942.
Sabu was a natural for Mowgli, the feral child raised by a wolf pack. Animal footage was cleverly integrated with that of the humans so that the beasts seemed directly involved with the humans; only the snakes were models. As bibliophiles know, there are two Jungle Books, although they are often published as one volume, and together they comprise fifteen tales.
This being too many for one film, and with "Toomai of the Elephants" having been treated in Elephant Boy, other stories had to be chosen selectively. They are: "Mowgli's Brothers", "How Fear Came", Tiger! " and "The King's Ankus. Woven into a story about man's avarice (told by Joseph Calleia's character at the beginning and end, and in voice-over throughout), they give an idea of the flavor of Kipling's words as they retain the names and personalities of the various creatures.
The forest conflagration at the conclusion is as beautiful as such a destructive force can be, surpassing that of 20th Century-Fox's The Blue Bird of two years earlier. The score by Miklos Rozsa also holds the distinction of being the first such to be released as a record album.
That same year Sabu was signed by Universal, where he appeared in four films in support of "The Queen of Technicolor", Maria Montez. The first was Arabian Nights, released in 1942. Sabu received third billing for the first time. However, he did get to lead a cavalry charge at the film's conclusion, arriving in time to save the hero and heroine.For the next three pictures, White Savage ('43), Cobra Woman ('44) and Tangier (46), his role was essentially the same, friend of the hero and contributor of mild comic relief. The last named movie differed only in that the setting was updated to World War II.
The war years were busy ones for the young actor. When not cavorting on the Universal back lot, he participated in the Treasury Department's defense bond sales campaign. He toured 30 cities and appeared on radio. On January 4, 1944 Selar Shaik Sabu became an American citizen.
Not long after, he entered the Army Air Force Basic Training Center at Greensboro, North Carolina. He served as a tail gunner for the remainder of the war, flying over forty missions in the Pacific, and winning the Distinguished Flying Cross among other decorations. He was mustered out of the army a Staff sergeant. Set in the Himalayas (but shot at Pinewood Studios and Horsham in Sussex), Black Narcissus tells of the various problems the nuns have coping with the environment and the populace, as well as the inner turmoil caused by Sister Ruth's (Kathleen Byron) losing her religious calling and succumbing to lust. Sabu appears about midway, wearing the scent that gives the story its title.
He promptly becomes the object of desire of a young pupil played by Jean Simmons (complete with nose-ring) and shortly thereafter runs off with her. And who can blame him? The make believe union didn't last, as Sabu was conspicuously Jean-less in his next picture, End of the River ('47), also for the Archers, but directed by Derek Twist instead of Powell, and the poorer for that fact.
The river of the title is the Amazon, and though a genuine Brazilian celebrity (Bibi Ferreira) was chosen to play Sabu's wife, the result was a short, but dull feature. The actor went over to Columbia for his next picture, and another rendezvous with destiny.
On the set of Song of India, in July, 1948, he met a young actress named Marilyn Cooper, who had been called upon without notice to replace an ailing Gail Russell in the female lead. However she received no screen credit for her work. On October 19 they were married and would become the parents of two children, Paul and Jasmine.
Paul now heads a very successful rock band called "Only Child"; he also produces records for other artists. Jasmine is a writer and trainer of Arabian hybrid horses, two of which appeared in Warner Bros. Sabu now resides in southern California. Sabu was a practical and realistic person. Early on he realized that his appeal would wane as he grew older.However, he had no intention of becoming a mahout again, so around 1950 he began a contracting and real estate business which occupied most of his time when he was not acting. Time proved him to be correct; his popularity did lessen. He took what film work came his way, even though jungle and fantasy films had fallen out of favor by the Fifties.
The results were less than satisfying, however. This time he did not portray a thief.Toward the end of that year he was back in England, starring in the Harringay Circus with an exciting Elephant act. Initially, he appeared in his finery from the conclusion of The Thief of Bagdad, but audience response was low, so he was forced to wear the more traditional dhoti (loincloth), and consequently suffered a great deal from the cold. He also toured Europe with the circus in the following year. After the tour, Sabu appeared with Vittorio DeSica in the 1954 Italian production, Hello, Elephant! 1956 was the nadir of his career. First came a short entitled Black Panther, produced by Ron and June Ormond, purveyors of such classics as Outlaw Woman and The Girl from Tobacco Row. Not long after its release by Howco, the Ormond's traded their interest in another film for the rights to Black Panther minus Sabu's footage. They replaced it with some nonsense about a girl raised by gorillas and re-titled it Untamed Mistress prior to its release.
Next came Jungle Hell, an unauthorized picture mainly of stock travelogue footage including more elephants than in any six Tarzan movies, and a fight between a crocodile and a tiger, obviously lifted from one of Frank Buck's films. Sabu's twenty scenes seem to be an afterthought included to give the film a name actor and some sort of story line; in the latter it fails miserably. This footage was apparently taken from some aborted picture without the actor's knowledge, for he sued the producer with the intention of blocking its release.The decision handed down was in Sabu's favor; the film was forbidden to ever be shown publicly. A print bearing the logo of Medallion TV exists; whether or not it has ever been shown on the small screen I do not know. Despite this brace of disasters (or maybe due to their limited distribution) Allied Artists must have felt that the former child star's name still had drawing power, for they cast him in a 1957 vehicle entitled Sabu and the Magic Ring. Making him one of a select few to have their real names appear in a film title. [Especially one that they appeared in and wasn't a posthumous bio-pic].
Following that, Sabu made but three pictures; a German-Italian co-production directed by William Dieterle called Mistress of the World ('59); a love triangle story concerning big game hunters in India with Robert Mitchum and Jack Hawkins in which he played an Indian guide (Rampage,'63); and a film fir Disney about a tiger that escapes from a circus (A Tiger Walks,'64). On December 2, 1963, India's only international film star was stricken by a fatal heart attack in Chatsworth, California.His body was interred in Forest Lawn cemetery among many other film personalities. Though the young Indian boy who charmed his way around the world is gone, his film legacy keeps him alive, proof that All things are possible when seen through the eyes of youth. The author wishes to express his sincere gratitude to Mrs.
Marilyn Sabu for her gracious assistance in supplying information for this article. Thanks also to artist/historian Gary Zaboly for his contributions. Abu Dastagir, father to 2 children, was born on January 27, 1924.
He married Marilyn Cooper in 1949 and Sabu died on December 1, 1963. They gave birth to Jasmine Sabu and Paul Sabu.He died in December 1963 at 39 years old. Sabu is also known as: Sabu. His occupation and profession is listed as: Spouse (1) Marilyn Cooper. (19 October 1948 - 2 December 1963) (his death) (2 children) He became an American citizen on January 4, 1944, after which he served in the US Army Air Force during World War II as a tail gunner. Father of Jasmine Sabu and Paul Sabu. According to his widow, actress Marilyn Cooper, Sabu had a complete physical just a few days before his death, at which time his doctor told him, If all my patients were as healthy as you, I'd be out of business.
Thus, his sudden death of a heart attack at the age of 39 came as even more of a shock than it would have been otherwise. His last film, Disney's A Tiger Walks (1964), was released posthumously, to good reviews.
The first Indian actor to make it big in Hollywood. However, he was restricted to stereotypical roles of Indians. In the late 1940s and 1950s, he was among the richest stars in Hollywood.
In an era in which white actors often played Asian characters, he was respected not only for his physique but also for his natural acting abilities. He was a friend to many Hollywood actors including James Stewart and Ronald Reagan. Most reference books list his full name as Sabu Dastigir, which was the name he used legally, but research by journalist Philip Liebfried suggests that his full name was, in fact, Selar Sabu. His brother's name was Shaik Dastagir, which may have been the source of confusion surrounding Sabu's full name. He was 12 years old and cleaning out the stables of a wealthy Indian maharajah when he was spotted by director Robert J.
Flaherty, who was in India looking for a lead for his film Elephant Boy (1937). Director George Stevens sought to borrow Sabu for the title role of "Gunga Din" (1939) but producer Alexander Korda refused to loan out his star. Aware of this, actor Sam Jaffe patterned his audition for Gunga Din after Sabu and won the coveted role.
In order to give his best performance, Jaffe reportedly told himself "Think Sabu" before each scene was shot. Before entering the service during WWII the actor participated in the Treasury Department's defense bond campaign, touring thirty cities and broadcasting on radio. When Sabu's brother was killed by a robber in 1960, and the actor had to take over management of their furniture store.
He was in the process of making a comeback when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He received his citizenship papers on January 4, 1944.
He enlisted in the U. Air Force during World War II and served with distinction. Was one of the many dozen of Hollywood celebrities who made regular weekend visits to Ralph Helfer's Africa U.
Exotic Animal Ranch in Soledad Canyon, California to play with the animals and to pitch in with the chores. Was the first actor to play the main character Mowgli from Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book". Kishore Sahu cast Shashikala opposite Johnny Walker in Sauda which created ripples because it also starred the Hollywood kid and the Elephant Boy Sabu.
It was a prestigious project which was abruptly shelved and Shashikala moved to stunt films and double shifts to keep the kitchen fires burning. Was offered Sunil Dutt's role in Mother India but declined it.
Sabu Dastagir (January 27, 1924-December 2, 1963) rarely figures in the roster of names of Asian actors in Hollywood. But between 1937 and the mid-1940s, he rose to popularity in films that depicted the East as an exotic and wild, fantasy land.His name actually was Selar Sabu. It was his brother, who accompanied him on his journey, who was Dastagir. The confusion over nomenclature was apparently created while filling out forms during immigration. Their father served the Maharaja of Mysore as a mahout, but the boys were orphaned young and became wards of the king. As the story goes, it is either Frances Flaherty, writer and wife of the director Robert Flaherty, or even the latter's cameraman, Osmond Borradaile, who spotted Sabu while location hunting for the film Elephant Boy in 1934 or'35. The film's producer, Alexander Korda, based the movie on Rudyard Kipling's Toomai and the Elephants from The Jungle Book. The locations were filmed in Mysore by Flaherty, while other sequences were shot by Zoltan Korda in England's Denham Studios. Sabu was flown to England by Alexander Korda, and lived with his brother in London's West End. For a while, he even attended school here. Elephant Boy proved a big hit, with much of the praise reserved for Sabu, described by critics as a "complete natural". The Drum (1938), based on AEW Mason's book, was set in a fictitious kingdom in the North West Frontier. Sabu plays prince Azim, who is threatened by an evil uncle and becomes friends with a British drummer boy.
For all its obsequious subservience, the film (also a first in Technicolor) caused riots in Bombay and Madras. The Thief of Baghdad (1940) was one of the most expensive Korda productions ever.Sabu essayed one of his best roles. As Abu, he outwits the evil vizier to save the princess. The movie won Oscars for special effects, cinematography and art direction. Jungle Book (1942), based on the Mowgli stories (played by Sabu) from Kipling's Jungle Books, was shot in Hollywood.
Though it moved away from Kipling's original work, the movie secured Academy Award nominations again for its music and special effects. Sabu stayed on in the United States of America and served in its military during World War II. He was part of over 40 air missions across the Pacific, serving as a machine gunner on the B-24 aircraft.For his services, he was awarded the distinguished flying cross and other military honours. Sabu had also contracted himself to Universal at this time. Arabian Nights (1942) marked his first appearance with the actors Jon Hall and Maria Montez. Hall (whose mother was a Tahitian princess), Montez (originally from the Dominican Republic) and Sabu would go on to star in similar exotic-themed movies, such as White Savage (1942) and Cobra Woman (1944). Sabu was reduced to providing support to the lead actor and/or comic relief, even singing as he did in Tangier (1946), in forced pidgin English, She'll be coming round the mountain.
The chronology of his career after this is a bit confusing. He moved to Britain to do two films with Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Black Narcissus (1947), based on Rumer Godden's novel about a group of dedicated nuns at a convent in the Himalayas, was filmed entirely in England. Sabu had a small role as an Indian prince who falls in love with the dancing girl Kanchi, played by Jean Simmons.
In Powell's The End of the River later that year, Sabu played the lead role of a boy of the Akuna Indian tribe living by the Amazon river in Brazil. The film was criticised for simply transporting Korda's Empire movies to a more Latin setting, and for having the same patronising attitude towards'natives'. Sabu's last film for Universal was Man Eater of Kumaon (to all intent, only its title was taken from Jim Corbett's book) where he was one of three Indian actors.
He played Narain, the native who befriends Dr John Collins in the film. It was in the sets of Song of India (1949) that he met Marilyn Cooper, whose role as princess Tara remained uncredited as she filled in for the actual lead, Gail Russell. Again set in a jungle, the film nevertheless had modern-day notions when Sabu, as the leader of a tribe, comes into conflict with the maharaja (played by Turhan Bey, another actor who performed Oriental roles) over capturing animals for zoos. Sabu and Cooper soon married, and remained a couple till Sabu's early death in 1963.
In the 1950s, for all his efforts, Sabu was unable to revive his Hollywood career. The roles that came his way required him to play the same stereotypical dazed and naïve Asian.It was the time of the anti-communist'red scare' in the US, and Sabu had a role in Savage Drums, where a battle against communism is waged in a small tropical island. In these years, Sabu tried his hand at various things. He invested in real estate, with his brother's help, and also performed with elephants as part of the Harringay Circus.
It seemed he had come full circle in life, but his film career revived a bit with some low-budget humour films. In Hello Elephant, directed by the Italian Giani Franciolini, Sabu played the Sultan of Nagore.
The movie also starred Vittorio De Sica. In 1954, Sabu featured in the French-Italian Treasure of Bengal (Il Tessoro de Bengala). He was even considered for the role of Birju in Mehboob Khan's Mother India (1957), which went finally to Sunil Dutt.
As Lawrence writes, Sabu found that his naiveté and simplicity did not work in drawing in Mumbai's crowds, and hence he drove out in his Cadillac. In Europe, Sabu had unhappy experiences with two productions by the filmmakers Ron and June Ormond. Sabu even sued them for using old footage related to him, in their film, Jungle Hell. Despite this, he did have the distinction of starring in a film with his name in the title: Sabu and the Magic Ring (1957, directed by George Blair), where he plays a stable boy who befriends a genie, and speaks to elephants.
His last three movies were Mistress of the World (1960), a European collaborative venture, where Sabu, as Dr Lin Chor, is one of many shady characters. In Rampage (1963), a jungle movie again, he played a guide. His last film, released after his death, was A Tiger Walks (1964), where he plays an Indian animal trainer who helps pacify a Bengal tiger whose escape from a circus has caused panic in a town. Sabu's children went onto relatively fulfilling careers.His daughter Jasmine worked as a horse trainer (she died relatively young) and his son Paul is a musician and a producer. Ian Iqbal Rashid's short Surviving Sabu (1997) uses the plot device of a gay man who is making a film on his father's idol, the actor Sabu, to explore confusions relating to identity. It could almost be a metaphor for Sabu's own life.
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