Originally hailing from Mumbai, India, Persis Khambatta portrayed Lt. Ilia in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture." Famously known for having been crowned Miss India in her native land in 1965, the beautiful Khambatta came to Hollywood on the strength of her modeling career, long before the lore of India’s Bollywood was a bankable credit.
Ironically, her gorgeous hair was shorn for the iconic role of the bald-headed Deltan, although she was originally cast to play Ilia in the proposed “Star Trek: Phase II” television series that gave way to Star Trek—The Motion Picture. She had only a few more roles after suffering a car accident injury in Germany in 1980, and underwent heart bypass surgery three years later. Roles on Indian TV ensued before returning to Hollywood for numerous TV guest roles—and then authoring a coffee table book, Pride of India, about her fellow pageant winners, as a fundraiser for Mother Theresa.
Her last role was as an Indian ambassador for the 1993 pilot episode of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Years after returning to India, she complained of chest pains in 1998 and died suddenly of a heart attack in her native Mumbai on August 18 that year, at the age of only 49.
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