October 22, 2009

Whatever Happened To Persis Khambatta

I put the original Star Trek movie on my Netflix after seeing "Close Encounters" earlier this summer at Bryant Park and loving it. I have to say "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" doesn't hold up as well, even in the reedited version available on DVD. It plays like a very long episode of TOS which would have been fine if it was 50 minutes long. Unfortunately, it's 136 minutes long which earned it the fanboy tag "Star Trek: The Slow Motion Picture."

Like this year's "Star Trek" reboot, Bones steals the show and his scenes with Kirk and the old gang always crackle. Another standout is the lovely and mysterious beauty of Persis Khambatta, the bald Deltan who has an odd dual role in the film, playing Lt. Ilia and a robotic version of herself in a dangerously short mini-dress.

Joining the crew of the Enterprise was Persis' big break, having been Miss India in the 1960's and a well-known fashion/makeup model, most famously for Revlon.
Unfortunately, her career didn't exactly hit warp drive after her role in "Star Trek". Her most notable role was in 1981's "Nighthawks" and a final part in the pilot episode of "Lois & Clark", playing the Indian ambassador....what imaginative casting!

In 1998, she suffered a heart attack and died suddenly. Her age is listed as 47 on Imdb and 49 on Wikipedia. Either way it seems too early....she was such a striking and enigmatic figure. It's a shame she didn't take off and have a more vibrant career. Her Hollywood debut, however, remains memorable. Even if the movie isn't all I remembered it to be.

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