Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura on ‘Star Trek,’ dies at 89.
Actress and singer Nichelle Nichols, best known as Star Trek’s communications officer Lieutenant Uhura, died Saturday night in Silver City, New Mexico. She was 89 years old.
“I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years,” her son Kyle Johnson wrote on the website Uhura.com. “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.”
Nichols was one of the first Black women featured in a major television series, and her role as Lt. Nyota Uhura on the original TV series was groundbreaking: an African American woman whose name came from Uhuru, the Swahili word for “freedom.”
“Here I was projecting in the 23rd century what should have been quite simple,” Nichols told NPR in 2011. “We’re on a starship. I was head communications officer. Fourth in command on a starship. They didn’t see this as being, oh, it doesn’t happen til the 23rd century. Young people and adults saw it as now.”
In 1968, Nichols made headlines when Uhura shared an intimate kiss with Captain James T. Kirk (played by William Shatner) in an episode called “Plato’s Stepchildren.” Their interracial kiss on the lips was revolutionary, one of the first such moments on TV.
Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Uhura on “Star Trek” in a groundbreaking role for Black actresses before going on to help recruit people of color and women for NASA in real life, has died, her representatives confirmed to CBS News. She was 89.
Nichelle Nichols Death Reason is natural causes.
“I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years,” her son, Kyle Johnson, posted on Nichols’ official Facebook page. Nichols died of natural causes, according to Johnson.
“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,” he wrote.
Nichols’ “Star Trek” costar George Takei tweeted, “my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend.”
After “Star Trek,” Nichols went on to become a recruiter for NASA, playing a key role in helping recruit people of color and female astronauts.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and director Todd Thompson, who both served as executive producers of the documentary “Women in Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek and the Remaking of NASA,” called her story “monumental.”
Nichols portrayed U.S.S. Enterprise communications officer Lt. Nyota Uhura on the “Star Trek” television series from 1966-1969. She also reprised the role in six movies from the iconic sci-fi franchise.