Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura on ‘Star Trek,’ has died at 89. Nichols, who broke barriers for Black women in Hollywood as communications officer Lt. Uhura on the original “Star Trek” television series, has past away.
Her son Kyle Johnson said Nichols died Saturday in Silver City, New Mexico.
“Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. 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,” Johnson wrote on her official Facebook page Sunday. “Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.”
Her role in the 1966-69 series earned Nichols a lifelong position of honor with the series’ rabid fans, known as Trekkers and Trekkies. It also earned her accolades for breaking stereotypes that had limited Black women to acting roles as servants and included an interracial onscreen kiss with co-star William Shatner that was unheard of at the time.
Shatner tweeted: “I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Nichelle. She was a beautiful woman & played an admirable character.”
George Takei, who shared the bridge of the USS Enterprise with her as Sulu in the original “Star Trek” series, called her trailblazing and incomparable. “For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend,” he tweeted.
Nichols’ impact was felt far beyond her immediate co-stars, and many others in the “Star Trek” world also tweeted their condolences.
Celia Rose Gooding, who currently plays Uhura in “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” tweeted that Nichols “made room for so many of us. She was the reminder that not only can we reach the stars, but our influence is essential to their survival. Forget shaking the table, she built it.”
“Star Trek: Voyager” alum Kate Mulgrew tweeted, “Nichelle Nichols was The First. She was a trailblazer who navigated a very challenging trail with grit, grace, and a gorgeous fire we are not likely to see again.”
Like other original cast members, Nichols also appeared in six big-screen spinoffs starting in 1979 with “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and frequented “Star Trek” fan conventions. She also served for many years as a NASA recruiter, helping bring minorities and women into the astronaut corps.
Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura on ‘Star Trek,’ has died at 89.