Trailblazing Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols who played Lieutenant Uhura has passed away at age 89.
Actress and singer Nichelle Nichols, best known for her groundbreaking portrayal of Lt. Nyota Uhura in “Star Trek: The Original Series,” died from heart failure on Saturday, July 30th, 2022, at a hospital in Silver City, NM. She was 89.
Her son, Kyle Johnson, released a statement.
Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light, however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration. Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.
Nichols and her Star Trek character Uhura broke barriers as one of the first Black female leads on television as well as one of the first African-American women to play a major role on primetime television. She is popularly cited as having the first interracial kiss on American television when her character famously kissed William Shatner’s character, Captain James T. Kirk.
Martin Luther King Jr. said Nichols’ role of Uhura was “the first non-stereotypical role portrayed by a black woman in television history.”
After enjoying success from her work on screen, in music, and in activism, Nichols helped women succeed in the field of astronomy. Nichols helped NASA recruit astronauts who were women or minorities. She is credited to have recruited Sally Ride, the first female American astronaut.
She was also very active on the comic and science fiction convention circuit and often insisted on not leaving her table for meals or rest while fans were waiting to meet her. Many fans have commented on her love of the fans and have stated she made each of them feel special. She also displayed a great appreciation of Star Trek cosplayers, complimenting them and thanking them for their support. (She even insisted on giving a certain Q cosplayer who might actually be Captain Kyle a free autograph and complimented his costume. But that’s a rumor.) Many have loved her for her kindness, grace, and powerful personality.
Our hearts are with the family, friends, and fans of Nichelle Nichols. She will be missed.