Nichelle Nichols, passed away of natural causes
Her son, Kyle Johnson, announced the death on the official website uhura.com, saying: “Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, passed away of natural causes. However, her light, like the ancient galaxies now seen in the first time, it will remain.”
A family spokesman said Nichols died in Silver City, New Mexicowhere he lived with his son.
Tributes poured in quickly, including from a long list of devoted Trekkies.
George Takei, who as Helmsman Sulu shared the bridge with Lt. Uhura on the USS Enterprise, called her “a trailblazer and unparalleled,” while prominent Georgia Democratic politician Stacey Abrams praised her as a “champion, warrior, and tremendous actress.” ”.
Nichols made history with one of the first interracial kisses on American television.in 1968, shared with Captain Kirk of the Enterprise, played by William Shatner.
Martin Luther King Jr. himself praised Nichols, who broke ground with his powerful performance at a time when black actors were often cast as servants or criminals.
Nichols, trained in ballet and musical theater, at one point told the creator of star trekGene Roddenberry, who wanted to leave the show to return to the theater.
When he mentioned this to King in a chance meeting, according to the account of The Hollywood Reporter“The smile disappeared from his face and he said, ‘You can’t do that. Don’t you understand that for the first time we are being seen as we should be seen? You don’t have a black role. You have an equal role.'” And she stayed .
Although she became known for the role of Uhura, Nichols had a varied career: danced with Sammy Davis Jr. in Porgy and Bessappeared on the NBC series Heroes and recorded an album.
She also played Uhura – which means freedom in Swahili – in the first six films of star trek. Nichols later worked as a recruiter for NASA, which approached her after she criticized her lack of diversity, and successfully encouraged a number of talented African-Americans and women of all races to consider careers with the space agency.