Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura on ‘Star Trek’ Dies at 89 – See Her Links to San Diego

Star Trek Actor Obituaries
Actress Nichelle Nichols, who played the character Uhura in the original “Star Trek” television series, poses at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena August 5, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/File Photo

Nichelle Nicholswhose portrayal of Lt. Nyota Uhura on television “Star Trek” was one of the first landmark roles for a black actress, has died at age 89, her son announced Sunday.

“I’m sorry to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years,” Kyle Johnson wrote on Instagram.

“Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. However, its light, like the ancient galaxies we are now seeing for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from and draw inspiration from.

“Her life was a good life and as such (she is) a role model for us all.”

Nichols died at a hospital in Silver City, NM, according to the Los Angeles Times, which mentioned a family friend. She had suffered a stroke in 2015 in Woodland Hills and was embroiled in a custody battle between her family and a former manager, the paper added.

Nichols was an accomplished stage actress and had toured as a singer with jazz legends Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton when she was cast as Lt. Uhura on “Star Trek,” which debuted on NBC in 1966. It was one of the first prominent roles for a black woman on American television.

Nichols said she wanted to leave the show in its first season to pursue a career on Broadway, but a conversation with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. about her importance as a role model for black children changed her mind.

Later public figures from former President Barack Obama to Academy Award winner Whoopi Goldberg have cited its cultural significance and impact.

Her interracial kiss with white “Star Trek” star William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk, in a November 1968 episode of “Plato’s Stepchildren” was considered another television landmark of the civil rights era and prompted protests from some viewers at that time.

She reprized her role as the capable and level-headed Uhura in six Star Trek feature films.

In the years after “Star Trek” went off the air in 1969, Nichols worked with NASA to attract women and minorities to the space program. One of the recruits, the late Sally Ride of La Jolla – who died 10 years ago this month – in 1983 she became the first US female astronaut to reach space.

Others included the first black female astronaut, Mae Jemison, and the first black head of NASA, Charlie Bolden.

He participated in many fan events as the Star Trek The popularity of the franchise continued, but in March of 1997, it took center stage for a tragic reason connected to San Diego.

Her brother, Thomas Nichols, committed suicide as part of the infamous Gate of heaven cult mass suicide in Rancho Santa Fe. He told the late talk show host Larry King, according to the Associated Press, that “he made his choices and we respect those choices.”

She also told King that she found it ironic that her brother and the 38 others who died chose to time their deaths as Comet Hale-Bopp passed close to Earth, which she called “this wonderful celestial event.”

Fans and admirers mourned her on social media on Sunday.

Nichols “symbolized to so many what was possible” and “inspired generations to reach for the stars,” NASA said on Twitter.

George Takei, who played Lt. Hikaru Sulu on “Star Trek,” tweeted calling the actress: “the trailblazing, incomparable Nichelle Nichols.” And he added, “today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shine like the stars among which you now rest, my dear friend.”

Former ‘Wonder Woman’ star Linda Carter tweeted: ‘Many actors become stars, but few stars can move a nation. Nichelle Nichols showed us the extraordinary power of black women and paved the way for a better future for all women in media. Thank you, Nichelle. We will miss you.”

A private service will be held for family members and those close to his mother, Johnson said.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce said flowers will be placed on Nichols’ star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1 p.m. Monday. The star, which Nichols received in 1992, is located at 6635 Hollywood Blvd.

Staff and wire reports

Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura on ‘Star Trek’ Dies at 89 – See Her Links to San Diego Source link Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura on ‘Star Trek’ Dies at 89 – See Her Links to San Diego

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