Actress and singer Nichelle Nichols, better known as Star Trek communications officer Lieutenant Uhura, died Saturday night in Silver City, New Mexico. She was 89 years old.
His son, Kyle Johnson, wrote on uhura.com, \”I regret to inform you that the great light in the sky no longer shines as brightly for us as it has for so many years.\” \”However, its light, like the ancient galaxies that first appeared, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from and be inspired by.\”
Nichols was one of the first black women to appear in a major television series, and her role as Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in the original series was phenomenal: an African-American woman whose name comes from the word Uhuru, meaning \”in Swahili\”. Freedom\”. ,
\”Here I was in the 23rd century designing what should have been very simple,\” Nichols told NPR in 2011. We are on a starship. I was the chief liaison officer. Fourth Commander on the Starship. Like, oh, it won\’t be until the 23rd century. Young people and adults saw it as it is now.\”
In 1968, Nichols made headlines when Uhura shared an intimate kiss with Captain James T. Kirk (played by William Shatner) in an episode entitled \”Plato\’s Stepchildren\”. Their interracial kiss on the lips was revolutionary, one of the first such moments on television.
Nichols was born Grace Dale Nichols in suburban Chicago, where her father was the mayor. She grew up singing and dancing, dreaming of acting in musical theatre. He got his first break in 1961 in the thin-screen musical Kicks & Company for Playboy magazine. She was the star of the Chicago Stock Company\’s production of Carmen Jones, and in New York she performed in Porgy and Bess.
\”For me, the highlight and embodiment of my life as a singer, actress, and dancer/choreographer was performing on Broadway,\” she told NPR in 2011, adding that as her Star Trek popularity grew, She began to receive other offers: \” I decided that I was going to leave, go to New York and enter the Broadway stage.\”
Nichols said she went to Star Trek producer Gene Roddenberry and announced she was leaving. \”He was very upset by it. And he said, take a weekend and think about what I\’m trying to achieve here on this show. You\’re an integral part of him and very important to him.\”
So, that weekend, she went to an NAACP fundraiser in Beverly Hills and was asked to meet a man who said he was her number one fan: Martin Luther King Jr.
He said, \”He praised me for the way I created the character. I thanked him and I think I said something like, \”Dr. King, I want to be there walking with you.\” Said, \”No, no, no. No, you don\’t understand. We don\’t need you… to march. You are marching. You reflect what we\’re fighting for.\” So I told him, \”Thank you very much. And I\’ll miss my teammates.\”
\”His face got very, very serious,\” she recalls. \”And he said, \’What are you talking about?\’ And I said, \”Well, I told Jhunia just yesterday that I was going to leave the show after the first year because I was offered… and she stopped me and said, \’You can\’t do that.\’ I was stunned. He said, \”Don\’t you understand what this man has achieved? The world is seeing us for the first time as we should be seen. Stay awake and watch\”. I was speechless.\”
Nichols returned to the series, which lasted until 1969. He reprized his famous role in six subsequent feature films, including Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, where Uhura was promoted to commander.
Over the years, Nichols has also helped diversify the actual space program by helping to recruit astronauts Sally Ride, Judith Resnick, Gayone Blueford, and others. And she had her own science foundation, Women on the Move.
Linda Carter, the actress who played Wonder Woman on television in the 1970s, tweeted, \”Many actors make stars, but few stars can move the nation forward.\” \”Nickel Nichols showed us the extraordinary power of black women and paved the way for a better future for all women in media. Thank you Nickel. We will miss you.\”
George Takei, who played Star Trek\’s helmman Hikaru Sulu, tweeted, \”I still have to say about the phenomenal, incomparable Nickel Nichols, who shared the bridge with us as Lieutenant Uhura on the USS Enterprise,\” He tweeted. \”Today my heart is heavy, my eyes are shining like stars, in the midst of which you are now resting, my dear friend.\”
He also posted a photo of his longtime friend, both blazing with a Vulcan salute, saying, \”May we live longer and prosper together.\”
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