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Woman To Know: Persis Khambatta, The First Indian To Make A Hollywood Debut

  • JWB Post
  •  October 5, 2016


And you thought it was Aishwarya, Priyanka, and Deepika?

Persis Khambatta was a Parsi and belonged to Mumbai. She became an international sensation in the lets 70s and soon after that, she launched her acting career. Do you remember the character of Lieutenant Ilia from 1979 film Star Trek: The Motion Picture? Yeah, that was her.

Below are things you need to know about this unconventional heroine of that era:

      1. At the age of 13, she appeared in a Rexona soap commercial.
      2. She won the Femina Miss India contest in 1965 when she was 17 years old
      3. She was the third Indian woman ever to participate in the Miss Universe pageant.
      4. She was offered a Bond film which she rejected since she wanted to try her hand in Bollywood first.
      5. She made her Bollywood debut in 1967 with K. A. Abbas’ ‘Bambai Raat Ki Bahon Mein.’
      6. She made her international acting debut with The Wilby Conspiracy in 1975. She was 29 when she landed the role of Lieutenant Ilia, who was from the planet Delta 4.
      7. For her American acting debut, she had to shave her head for real.
      8. And, the video of her crying while getting her head tonsured was actually used for marketing purposes of the film!

9. Post Star Trek’s success, she was nominated for the Best Actress Saturn Award

10. In 1980, she became the first Indian to present an award at the Oscars.11. In 1997, she wrote a coffee table book, Pride of India, featuring former Miss India winners. It was dedicated to Mother Teresa and part of the profits went to the Missionaries of Charity.12. Her last acting appearance was in 1993 episode of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

13. She passed away in 1998 of a cardiac arrest.


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