Persis Khambatta

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Persis Khambatta
Beauty pageant titleholder
Born (1948-10-02)2 October 1948
Bombay, Bombay State, India
Died 18 August 1998(1998-08-18) (aged 49)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Title(s) Femina Miss India 1965
Major
competition(s)
Femina Miss India 1965
(Winner)
Miss Universe 1965
(Unplaced)
Spouse Cliff Taylor (1981 - ?)

Persis Khambatta (2 October 1948 – 18 August 1998) was an Indian model, actress and author.[1] She was best known for her role as Lieutenant Ilia in the 1979 feature film Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Early life[edit]

Persis Khambatta was born into a middle-class Parsee home in Mumbai, then known as Bombay. Her father left the family when she was 2 years old.[2] She first gained fame when a set of her pictures casually taken by a well-known Bombay photographer[who?] was used for a successful campaign for a popular soap brand. This led eventually to her becoming a model. She entered and won the Miss India contest in 1965.[3]

Career[edit]

Persis first appeared, at age 13, in advertisements for the popular soap brand Rexona and set on her way to becoming a popular model. At age 17, as Femina Miss India, Khambatta entered Miss Universe 1965, dressed in off-the-rack clothes she bought at the last minute. She became a model for companies such as Air India, Revlon and Garden Vareli.

Khambatta made her Bollywood début in director K.A. Abbas's Bambai Raat Ki Bahon Mein (1967),[4] playing cabaret singer Lily who croons the film's title track. She had small roles in 1975's Conduct Unbecoming and The Wilby Conspiracy. She went on to have a brief movie career that included the role for which she is most recognized, the bald Deltan navigator Lieutenant Ilia, in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). She was originally signed to play the role for 5 years, as the intention was to create a new Star Trek TV series. Khambatta said that she was thrilled when the project became a movie instead, as it was a big break, but also recognised that she had lost 5 years' work.[5] Khambatta became the first Indian citizen to present an Academy Award in 1980. She was nominated for Saturn Award for Best Actress for her role in Star Trek. This led to roles in Nighthawks (1981), Megaforce (1982) and Warrior of the Lost World (1983). She was considered for the title role in the James Bond film Octopussy (1983), but was passed over in favor of Maud Adams.

Khambatta was seriously injured in a car crash in Germany in 1980, which left her with a huge scar on her head. In 1983, she underwent a bypass surgery. She returned to Bombay in 1985, and appeared in the Hindi television series Shingora. Soon after, Khambatta returned to Hollywood and performed in guest roles on various television series such as Mike Hammer and MacGyver. In 1997 she wrote and published a coffee table book, Pride of India, which featured several former Miss India winners. The book was dedicated to Mother Teresa, and part of the royalties went to the Missionaries of Charity. Her final appearance in an acting part was that of Chair of the Congress of Nations in the 1993 pilot episode of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

Death[edit]

In 1998, Khambatta was taken to the Marine Hospital in south Mumbai, complaining of chest pains. She died of a heart attack on 18 August 1998 at the age of 49.[6] Her funeral was held in Mumbai the following day.[6]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  • The Globe: 1998, November 10
  • Beverly Hills: 213 Magazine, November 1998
  • New York Post: 20 October 1998

External links[edit]