Sivaji Ganesan
Sivaji GanesanSivaji Ganesan/Facebook

1 October, 2015 marks the 87th birth anniversary of legendary actor Vettaithidal Chinnaiahpillai Sivaji Ganesan, who was born in the year 1928.

He joined a drama troupe in Sangiliyandapuram and began to perform in stage acts at the age of 10. He made his acting debut in cinema in the Tamil drama film "Parasakthi" in 1952 and was last seen onscreen in a supporting role in 1999 film "Pooparika Varugirom".

In a career spanning five decades, the versatile actor has acted in almost 300 films in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi.

Often called "The Marlon Brando of Indian Cinema", he passed away on 21 July, 2001 following respiratory problems and heart ailments.

Notable facts about Sivaji Ganesan:

He received an award in the Afro-Asian Film Festival held in Cairo, Egypt in 1960 and was the first Indian film actor to win a "Best Actor" title during an International film festival.

He was the first Indian artist to visit the United States as India's cultural ambassador in 1962 after he was invited by John F Kennedy, the then-US President.

Ganesan was the first Indian actor to be made a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

He was also known for his eidetic memory (the ability to recall images, sounds, or objects in memory), which helped him remember his scripts at a glance.

He was a trained Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Manipuri dancer.

Ganesan earned the name Shivaji after portraying the character of Chhatrapati Shivaji in the drama "Shivaji Kanda Hindu Rajyam". The name was granted to him by social reformer EV Ramasamy.

Even though he was a successful artist, he couldn't make a mark in politics.