Nichelle Nichols: ‘Trailblazing’ actress who played Lt Uhura on Star Trek dies | Ents & Arts News
Actor Nichelle Nichols, who gained international fame and led the way for black women on television by starring in the original Star Trek television series, has passed away.
Her son, Kyle Johnson, said she passed away Saturday in Silver City, New Mexico. She is 89 years old.
Her portrayal of Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in the 1966-69 series earned Nichols great respect from die-hard fans of the show, known as Trekkers and Trekkies.
It also earned her praise for breaking racial stereotypes and included an interracial on-screen kiss with co-star William Shatner that was unheard of at the time.
“Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away,” Kyle wrote on his Facebook page.
“However, her light, like those of ancient galaxies now seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration from.
“Her life was a good one, and it’s a role model for all of us.”
Star Trek co-star George Takei tweeted: “I’ll have to say more about Nichelle Nichols, the forerunner, who shared the bridge with us as Lieutenant Uhura of the USS Enterprise, and who passed. today at the age of 89.
“For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes are as bright as the stars that you rest in the middle, my dearest friend.”
Like the other original cast members, Nichols also appeared in six big-screen spinoffs beginning in 1979 with Star Trek: The Motion Picture and frequented Star Trek fan conventions.
She also spent many years as a NASA recruiter, helping to bring minorities and women into the crew.
The original Star Trek’s key message to viewers was that in the distant future – the 23rd century – human diversity would be fully accepted.
“I think many people have kept in mind … that what was said on TV at the time was cause for celebration,” Nichols said in 1992.
She often recalled how much Martin Luther King Jr was a fan of the show and praised her performance. She met him at a civil rights meeting in 1967, at which point she decided not to return for the show’s second season.
“When I told him I was going to miss my co-stars and I was leaving the show, he got very serious and said, ‘You can’t do that,'” she told a newspaper. reported in 2008.
“” You changed the face of television forever, and so you changed people’s minds,” she said, the civil rights leader told her.
“The foresight that Dr. King had was a lightning bolt in my life,” Nichols said.