Nichelle Nichols, who broke barriers for black women in Hollywood when she played Lieutenant Uhura on the television series “Star Trek,” has died at the age of 89.
His son Kyle Johnson reported that Nichols died Saturday in Silver City, New Mexico.
The departure of a great actress
“Last night my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. The light from it, however, like the ancient galaxies seen now for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from and be inspired by,” Johnson wrote on the Facebook account of the actress on Sunday. “His was a life well lived and as such a model for all of us.”
Her role on the 1966-69 series in which she played Uhura, a communications officer, earned Nichols a lifetime position of honor among the show’s die-hard fans known as the Trekkers and Trekkies. She also earned him praise for breaking stereotypes that had limited black women to servant roles, including an on-screen interracial kiss with co-star William Shatner, a first for the time.
She was a NASA recruiter.
She often recalled that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a fan of the series and praised her role and personally encouraged her to continue in it.
Like other original cast members, Nichols also appeared in six spin-offs from the series, beginning in 1979 with “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” and frequented fan conventions. She also worked for many years as a NASA recruiter, helping recruit minorities and women into the astronaut corps.
Most recently, she had a recurring role on the television series “Heroes,” playing the great-aunt of a young man with mystical powers.