Nichelle Nichols, a groundbreaking Black actress who performed communications officer Nyota Uhura with cool authority on the favored Sixties sequence “Star Trek,” has died at 89.
Her son, Kyle Johnson, introduced the dying on the official uhura.com web site, saying, “Final evening, my mom, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to pure causes and handed away. Her gentle, nevertheless, like the traditional galaxies now being seen for the primary time, will stay.”
A household spokesman mentioned Nichols died in Silver Metropolis, New Mexico, the place she had been residing along with her son.
Tributes poured in shortly, together with from a protracted checklist of devoted “Trekkies.”
William Shatner, who performed the USS Enterprise’s Captain James T. Kirk, despatched his condolences to Nichols’ household.
“She was a gorgeous girl & performed an admirable character that did a lot for redefining social points each right here within the US & all through the world. I’ll actually miss her.”
George Takei, who as helmsman Sulu shared the bridge with Lieutenant Uhura, referred to as her “trailblazing and incomparable.”
I shall have extra to say concerning the trailblazing, incomparable Nichelle Nichols, who shared the bridge with us as Lt. Uhura of the USS Enterprise, and who handed at this time at age 89. For at this time, my coronary heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the celebs you now relaxation amongst, my dearest pal.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) July 31, 2022
And US President Joe Biden mentioned Nichols “redefined what is feasible for Black People and girls.”
“Our nation is perpetually indebted to inspiring artists like Nichelle Nichols, who present us a future the place unity, dignity, and respect are cornerstones of each society,” he mentioned in a press release.
Nichols made historical past with one of many first interracial kisses on US tv — a 1968 embrace shared with Shatner (a kiss deemed worthy of a separate entry in Wikipedia).
Martin Luther King Jr. himself as soon as praised Nichols, who broke floor along with her highly effective efficiency at a time when Black actors extra usually had been forged as servants or criminals.
‘An equal function’
Nichols, who had educated in ballet and musical theater, at one level advised “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry that she needed to give up the present to return to the theater.
However when she talked about that to King, in an opportunity assembly recounted by the Hollywood Reporter: “All of the smile got here off his face and he mentioned, ‘You may’t try this. Do not you perceive, for the primary time, we’re seen as we ought to be seen? You do not have a Black function. You have got an equal function.'”
Nichols labored as a recruiter for NASA — which reached out to her after she had criticized its lack of variety — and efficiently inspired a number of proficient African-People and girls of all races to contemplate careers with the house company.
NASA paid tribute to her legacy in a tweet Sunday night, calling her a “trailblazer and function mannequin” who “symbolized to so many what was attainable.”
The Nationwide Air and House Museum additionally praised her work past the display screen.
“She was an inspiration to many, not only for her groundbreaking work on Star Trek but additionally by means of her work with NASA to recruit girls and other people of shade to use to change into astronauts,” the museum tweeted.
Whereas finest generally known as Uhura, Nichols had a diverse profession, dancing with Sammy Davis Jr. in “Porgy and Bess,” showing on the NBC sequence “Heroes” and recording an album.
She additionally performed Uhura — a reputation taken from the Swahili for “freedom” — within the first six “Star Trek” films.
The Smithsonian, the US nationwide museum community, shared an image on Twitter of the crimson house jacket Nichols wore as Uhura on display screen, adorned with the long-lasting “Star Trek” pin, which is now on show on the Nationwide Museum of African American Historical past and Tradition in Washington.
Right this moment we bear in mind Nichelle Nichols. She starred as Lieutenant Uhura on “Star Trek” sporting this uniform now in our @NMAAHC, making historical past for African American girls in TV and movie. Nichols additionally volunteered to recruit girls and other people of shade for NASA. #BecauseOfHerStory pic.twitter.com/fZZqfGlomz
— Smithsonian (@smithsonian) July 31, 2022