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A photo of Sabu Dastagir

Sabu Dastagir 1924 - 1963

Sabu Dastagir was born on January 27, 1924 in Mysuru, Karnataka County, KA India. He was married to Marilyn Cooper in 1949, and they were together until Sabu's death in December 1963. He had children Jasmine Sabu and Paul Sabu. Sabu Dastagir was buried at Forest Lawn 6300 Forest Lawn Dr, in Hollywood Hills.
Sabu Dastagir
Sabu
January 27, 1924
Mysuru, Karnataka County, KA, India
December 1963
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States
Male
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Sabu Dastagir's History: 1924 - 1963

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  • Introduction

    Sabu Dastagir was an Indian actor who rose to fame in Hollywood during the 1930s and 1940s. He was born on January 27, 1924, in Mysore, India. Sabu was the son of an Indian mahout,who worked with elephants, and grew up in poverty. His parents were Shaik and Mohom Peri Dastagir. He had a brother, Sheik Dastagir (1913 - 1960). Sabu had little formal education and instead learned how to care for and ride elephants, skills that would later serve him well in his acting career. Sabu was discovered by the British film producer Alexander Korda while working as an elephant driver for a Maharaja in India. In 1937, he made his film debut in Korda's production of "The Elephant Boy," which was a critical and commercial success. The film was based on a Rudyard Kipling story and Sabu played the lead role of Toomai, a young boy who befriends an elephant. This role made Sabu an international star and he went on to star in several Hollywood films, including "The Thief of Bagdad" (1940) and "Jungle Book" (1942). Sabu Dastagir married American actress Marilyn Cooper (1934 - 2009) and they had two children: Jasmine Sabu (1957 - 2001) and Paul Sabu (born 1960). Both children were involved in show business in some form. Despite his success in Hollywood, Sabu never forgot his roots and remained connected to India throughout his life. He was an advocate for Indian independence and even donated a portion of his earnings to the Indian National Army during World War II. Sabu died on December 2, 1963, at the age of 39, suffering a heart attack while filming a movie in Germany. His legacy as one of the first Indian actors to achieve success in Hollywood continues to inspire actors around the world.
  • 01/27
    1924

    Birthday

    January 27, 1924
    Birthdate
    Mysuru, Karnataka County, KA India
    Birthplace
  • Ethnicity & Family History

    Sabu was of Indian ethnicity and was born into a Muslim family in Mysore, India, on January 27, 1924. His birth name was Sabu Francis. Sabu's father, Sheikh Mohammed Ali, was a mahout (elephant driver) in the Indian army. Sabu grew up in poverty, and his family struggled to make ends meet. When he was 12 years old, Sabu was discovered by British film producer Alexander Korda, who was scouting locations in India for the film "The Elephant Boy" (1937). Korda was impressed by Sabu's natural athleticism and screen presence and offered him the lead role in the film.
  • Nationality & Locations

    Sabu Dastagir was a native of India, an actor who began his career in films in England when he was a child. Later on, he immigrated to the United States, where he went on to make several successful Hollywood films. Despite his success in Hollywood, Sabu remained connected to his Indian roots and was an advocate for Indian independence. Sabu died at the age of 39 in Los Angeles, California, where he had lived and worked for many years.
  • Early Life & Education

    Sabu Dastagir did not have a formal education as he grew up in poverty and did not attend school. Instead, he learned how to care for and ride elephants from his father who was an elephant driver. Sabu's father was employed by the Maharaja of Mysore, and this gave Sabu the opportunity to work with elephants from a young age. Despite his lack of formal education, Sabu was known for his intelligence and resourcefulness. He learned English quickly and was able to communicate effectively with his co-stars and crew members. He also had a keen business sense and was involved in the management of his career, negotiating his own contracts and seeking out roles that he felt were challenging and meaningful.
  • Religious Beliefs

    His birth family was Muslim.
  • Military Service

    Sabu was a sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II, and won the Distinguished Flying Cross. Part of his service was as a glider pilot. During the war he also served as a gunner in the South Pacific, where he completed 42 missions.
  • Professional Career

    Sabu Dastagir was an Indian actor who rose to fame in Hollywood during the 1930s and 1940s. He began his career in films in England as a child, where he was discovered by British film producer Alexander Korda. Korda cast Sabu in the lead role of "The Elephant Boy" (1937), which became a critical and commercial success, launching Sabu's acting career. He starred in several Hollywood films during the 1930s and 1940s. Some of his most notable films include: "The Elephant Boy" (1937) "The Drum" (1938) "The Thief of Bagdad" (1940) "Jungle Book" (1942) "Black Narcissus" (1947) His performances in these films garnered critical acclaim and made him an international star. He was particularly known for his athletic ability and his performances as adventurous and exotic characters. His legacy as one of the first Indian actors to achieve success in Hollywood continues to inspire actors and filmmakers around the world.
  • Personal Life & Family

    Sabu married Marilyn Cooper, an American dancer and actress whom he met while working on the film "Song of India" (1949). They were married in 1954 and had two children together, Paul and Jasmine. Sabu and Marilyn remained married until Sabu's death in 1963. Their marriage was reportedly a happy one, and they were known for their love of entertaining guests and hosting parties. Marilyn continued to work in the entertainment industry after Sabu's death, and she passed away in 2009. In his personal life, Sabu was known for his generosity and his dedication to helping others. He donated a portion of his earnings to the Indian National Army during World War II and was also involved in various charitable organizations. Sabu remained connected to India throughout his life, and he was known for his advocacy for Indian independence. Despite his success in Hollywood, Sabu never forgot his roots, and his legacy as a trailblazing Indian actor continues to inspire people around the world.
  • 12/dd
    1963

    Death

    December 1963
    Death date
    Unknown
    Cause of death
    Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States
    Death location
  • Gravesite & Burial

    mm/dd/yyyy
    Funeral date
    Forest Lawn 6300 Forest Lawn Dr, in Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles County, California 90068, United States
    Burial location
  • Obituary

    DEC 03, 1963 | 12:00 AM From the Archives: Sabu Dies of Heart Attack Sabu Dastagir, 39, the former "elephant boy" of films, died of a heart attack Monday at his Chatsworth home, 10901 Winnetka Ave. The Indian-born actor, whose career started when he was spotted by the late producer Sir Alexander Korda, recently completed a part in Warner Bros.' "Rampage" and had worked in films for Walt Disney. Funeral services will be conducted at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Chapel of the Hills, Forest Lawn Memorial-Park Hollywood Hills. He leaves his wife, actress Marilyn Cooper, a son, Paul, and a daughter, Jasmine. Sabu's discovery as a juvenile performer came when he appeared with the mahouts handling elephants for one of Korda's pictures, "Elephant Boy." Sabu, the son of the veterinary for the maharajah-owner of the elephants, became Korda's protege and later was induced to come to the United States. His pictures included "Drums," "The Thief of Bagdad," "Jungle Book," "The End of the River," "White Savage," "Cobra Woman," "Black Narcissus," "Song of India" and others. In World War II, he won the Distinguished Flying Cross while serving with a B-25 bombing group in the Pacific. He was a member of the Hollywood Masonic Lodge.
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9 Memories, Stories & Photos about Sabu

'Elephant Boy' Sabu Dastagir Succumbs at 39
'Elephant Boy' Sabu Dastagir Succumbs at 39
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP) - Sabu Datagir, the movies' elephant boy, died of a heart attack Monday in his home at nearby Chatsworth. He was 39. The Indian-born actor-whose career began when he was spotted by the late producer Sir Alexander Korda - recently completed a Warner Bros. picture and other films for Walt Disney.

Services will be conducted Thursday at 3 p.m. at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood. He leaves his widow, former actress Marilyn Cooper; a son, Paul; and a daughter, Jasmine.

Sabu played in such jungle epics as "Elephant Boy," "Jungle Book," "Song of India" and "Savage Drums." He began his movie career in 1937.

He was a sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II, and won the Distinguished Flying Cross. Part of his service was as a glider pilot.

Sabu was born in Karapur jungle, 45 miles from Mysore City, India. He became a screen actor at the age of 12. A British film, "Drums," brought him to America on an exploitation trip in 1938.

He returned to England for "The Thief of Baghdad," but the film was finished in Hollywood because of the German blitz. Sabu remained here.

During the war he also served as a gunner in the South Pacific, where he completed 42 missions.

- The Roanoke Times Tuesday December 3rd 1963
Date & Place: in Roanoke, Virginia United States
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Sabu Dastagir
Sabu Dastagir
A photo of Marilyn Cooper's only husband, Sabu
Date & Place: Not specified or unknown.
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Sabu Dastagir, war hero
Sabu Dastagir, war hero
A photo of Sabu Dastagir with Eleanor Roosevelt - he was a war hero too in WWII.
Date & Place: Not specified or unknown.
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Marilyn Cooper
Marilyn Cooper
Marilyn Cooper married Sabu Dastagir who was known as Sabu. He was a war hero too. They had a daughter Jasmine and a son Paul known as Paul Sabu, a musician.
Date & Place: Not specified or unknown.
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Jungle Book, Sabu
Jungle Book, Sabu
A photo of Sabu Dastagir in the movie "Jungle Book."
Date & Place: in California United States
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Sabu, Jungle Book
Sabu, Jungle Book
A photo of Sabu as Mowgli in The Jungle Book
Date & Place: in California United States
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Sabu Dastagir's Family Tree & Friends

Sabu Dastagir's Family Tree

Parent
Parent
Partner
Child
Sibling
Marriage

Marilyn Cooper

&

Sabu Dastagir

1949
Marriage date
Sabu's Death
Cause of Separation
December 1963
Sabu's death date
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Friendships

Sabu's Friends

Friends of Sabu Friends can be as close as family. Add Sabu's family friends, and his friends from childhood through adulthood.
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5 Followers & Sources
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