Persis Khambatta was an Indian model-turned-actor whose transformation from a model to a well-known Hollywood actor was inspiring and motivational. Khambatta had only recently entered her adolescence when she was approached with an offer to model for a soap company. She had never done anything like this before. Unlike other girls, Khambatta did not have to work hard to enter into modeling. In fact, modeling came as a complete surprise to her. Her modeling career was secured with images taken by a professional photographer. She won the Femina Miss India title soon after and went on to represent her country at the Miss Universe competition. Modeling opened the path for Khambatta’s acting career. Though she began her career as a Bollywood actor, the lack of professionalism in the Hindi film business at the time prompted her to pursue projects in Hollywood. Her big break came when she went bald in the ‘Star Trek’ movie. It aided her rise to recognition and distinction on a global scale. Despite her dislike for Indian individuals’ lack of civic awareness and professionalism in general, Khambatta returned to Mumbai because she adored the city. She returned home and wrote the book ‘Pride of Nation,’ in which she wrote about former Miss Indias and other beauty pageants.
Childhood and Adolescence
Persis Khambatta was born on October 2, 1948, into a middle-class Parsi family in Mumbai, India. When she was two years old, her father abandoned the family. Her mother was the sole provider of her upbringing.
Her foray into cinema and television wasn’t well-considered or planned. In truth, she was photographed by a well-known photographer on the spur of the moment. The photographs, on the other hand, turned out beautifully and were used in a successful soap brand ad.
She began receiving inquiries from advertising and modeling agencies shortly after the soap brand promotion. It appeared as if she was destined for a life of glitz and glory. Her photographs had done all of the talking for her.
Career of Persis Khambatta
Persis Khambatta began modeling when she was just 13 years old. She first made her appearance for the Rexona soap company. Khambatta’s remarkable beauty and appealing face made her the brand’s poster girl, paving the way for her modeling career.
She was already conquering the runway and advertising at the age of 17. She has crowned Femina Miss India and received the Miss Photogenic award.
Persis Khambatta was the country’s representative at the Miss Universe competition in 1965. She was the third Indian woman to compete in the Miss Universe pageant, and the second Femina Miss India. She worked as a model for firms such as Revlon, Garden Vareli, and Air India, among others.
Persis Khambatta modeled both in India and abroad after her international exposure. She made her Bollywood debut in 1967 in K.A. Abbas’ avant-garde film ‘Bambai Raat Ki Bahon Mein’ or ‘Bombay By Night.’ She portrayed a cabaret singer in it. Due to her lack of professionalism in Bollywood, Lily relocated to London, where she pursued her modeling career full-time. She moved to the United States after modeling in London, where she began her career as a Hollywood star.
‘The Wilby Conspiracy,’ starring Michael Caine and Sidney Poitier, was Khambatta’s debut foreign picture in 1975. She landed her second job in ‘Conduct Unbecoming,’ alongside Richard Attenborough, Michael York, and Trevor Howard, almost simultaneously.
Khambatta landed the most important job of her career in 1979. Lieutenant Ilia, a bald Deltan navigator, was her character in ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture.’ For the film, she shaved her head totally.
‘Star Trek’ gave her a larger audience as well as international exposure and celebrity. The project was originally planned to be a television series, but it was instead turned into a film.
Khambatta became the first Indian to give an Academy Award in 1980. She was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Actress for her part in “Star Trek” the same year.
Following her big-screen debut in ‘Star Trek,’ Khambatta went on to star in a number of films, including 1981’s ‘Nighthawks,’ in which she co-starred with Sylvester Stallone. Both ‘Megaforce’ (1982) and ‘Warrior of the Lost World’ (1983) were science fiction flicks. In 1988, she starred in the film ‘Phoenix the Warrior,’ and she also appeared in a few television programs as a guest star.
Persis Khambatta used her celebrity and reputation to encourage ethnic minority actors in Hollywood. Despite their presence, the film business relied on white males in dark make-up to play the characters. She pushed the industry to cast ethnic performers in leading roles.
She returned to Mumbai for a short time in 1985. During this time, she starred alongside Aditya Pancholi and Marc Zuber in the Hindi television series ‘Shingora.’ Khambatta afterward moved to Hollywood, where she appeared in guest parts on shows such as ‘Mike Hammer’ and ‘MacGyver.’
She returned to Bombay in the early 1990s. Modeling was not a respectable profession at the time, and models were despised by both men and women. Modeling, according to hardline feminists, was primarily used to promote women as sex objects. She laboriously labored on her sole book, ‘Pride of India,’ to demonstrate the country that models were much more than just form, beauty, and body.
‘Pride of India,’ published as a coffee table book, included several former Miss India winners as well as other astonishingly lovely Indian ladies who had competed in foreign beauty contests.
Mother Teresa was also mentioned in her book. Despite the fact that Mother Teresa was not a model or a contestant in a beauty pageant, Persis Khambatta thought she was the embodiment of beauty. Mother Teresa inspired Khambatta to write the book, and he dedicated it to her and donated a portion of the proceeds to the Missionaries of Charity.
Khambatta’s final appearance on TV before retiring from acting was in the pilot episode of ‘Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,’ which aired in 1993. She was the Chair of the United Nations Congress.
Major Projects of Persis Khambatta
Khambatta’s career culminated in 1975, when she was cast as Lieutenant Ilia, an alien navigator on the spaceship USS Enterprise, in the Hollywood film ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture.’ ‘Star Trek’ established Khambatta as an invincible figure in the acting world, despite the fact that she had already been in a few Hollywood films. She made cinematic history by being the first bald female film heroine. ‘Star Trek’ was a big hit, and it became the focal point of Khambatta’s filmography.
Personal History and Legacy
Cliff Taylor, a Hollywood actor, married Persis Khambatta in June 1981. They had only met a few weeks before their wedding. The marriage, however, did not last long and dissolved two months later when they filed for divorce. After that, she married Sandy Naren. They were Des Moines residents.
She was critically injured in a car accident in Germany in the early 1980s and underwent heart bypass surgery.
Persis Khambatta was admitted to the Marine Hospital in Bombay in 1998 after complaining of chest pains. On August 18, 1998, she died after a major heart attack. She was only 49 years old at the time. The following day, her burial was held in Mumbai.
Persis Khambatta Net Worth
Persis is one of the wealthiest movie actresses and one of the most well-known. Persis Khambatta’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.