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Persis Khambatta

Persis Khambatta (October 2, 1948 – August 18, 1998) was an Indian model and actress of Parsi ethnicity and Zoroastrian religion. She was born in Bombay, India. At age 15, Khambatta became Miss India and participated in the 1965 Miss Universe pageant, but could not achieve much success in the Indian movie industry in Bollywood, partially due to her relatively Western looks, which appeared unconventional for the Indian audiences. She later entered the world of international movies. She was also a model for various companies, including Revlon. In 1975, she had a small role in The Wilby Conspiracy, and she went on to a brief movie career that included the role for which she is most recognized: as "Lieutenant Ilia", in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, (1979). She then took on roles in Nighthawks (1981) and Megaforce (1982) but she never really found success in film. In 1979, she became the first Indian to present an Academy award.In 1985 she returned to India and tried to establish herself as a Bollywood actress. However her sole Bollywood film "Shingora" was not a box-office success; she then returned to Hollywood and did some guest appearance roles on various television series, such as Mike Hammer and MacGyver. There was also probably some lack of acting ability on her part. A telling story was that in the making of the first Star Trek movie, director Robert Wise had to do 19 takes of one scene to get her to say her line right. Her line was "No". In the early 1980s, Khambatta had a coronary bypass operation. In 1997 she wrote and published a coffee table book called Pride of India which featured several former Miss Indias. The book was dedicated to Mother Teresa and part of the royalties went to the Missionaries of Charity. Her final appearance on film and TV in an acting part was that of an Indian ambassador in an episode of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. In 1998, Khambatta was taken to the Marine Hospital in South Mumbai, India, complaining of chest pains. She died soon after of a heart attack. She was 49.


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