The son of an Indian mahout, or elephant driver, Sabu spent much of his adolescence as a stable boy for the Maharajah of Mysore. At age 11, Sabu was discovered by documentary filmmaker Robert Flaherty, who cast the youth in the title role of the 1937 feature Elephant Boy. The personable Indian lad scored a hit with audiences, and was subsequently cast in such Alexander Korda productions as The Drum (1938), The Thief of Baghdad (1940), and The Jungle Book (1941). Sabu then went to Hollywood, where he fit right into the exotic derring-do of those legendary Jon Hall/Maria Montez vehicles Arabian Nights (1942), White Savage (1943), and Cobra Woman (1944). He interrupted his Hollywood career to serve in the Army Air Force as a tail gunner. Sabu's film career began losing momentum in the postwar era, though he continued to offer creditable adult performances in films like Black Narcissus (1947) and The End of the River (1947). He made films in both America and Europe during the 1950s, unsuccessfully attempting several times to launch a TV series of his own. Sabu died of a heart attack at age 39, shortly after completing his last film, Disney's A Tiger Walks.