Leading actor Nicholl Nichols, who played Lieutenant Nyota Oora on the original ‘Star Trek’ series, has died.
She was 89 years old.
Nichols’ death was confirmed Sunday by her son, Kyle Johnson, on her website. Johnson said his mother died of natural causes.
“But her light, like ancient galaxies now seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn and be inspired by,” Johnson said in a statement posted to the website.
Johnson said his mother’s life “has lived well and therefore is a role model for everyone”. Family privacy request.
Nichols and her “Star Trek” character Uhura broke barriers as one of the first black women on television.
Rod Roddenberry, executive producer of the current version of “Star Trek” and son of show maker Gene Roddenberry, mourned Nichols’ death Sunday.
“It is with great sadness that we report the passing of legendary icon Nichelle Nichols,” he wrote on Twitter. “No words.”
Nichols was born in Illinois as Grace Nichols. She was discovered in Chicago by composer and musician Duke Ellington as a teenager while working as a dancer and choreographer, according to the National Space Society, of which Nichols was a member.
“As I learned to believe in my talent, my voice, and myself, I learned that I can make others believe in it too,” Nichols wrote on her website.
Prior to appearing on Star Trek, Nichols was an accomplished dancer but had only a few acting roles.
Nichols appeared on “Star Trek” in its 1966 debut season. At first, she considered leaving the show, feeling that her character lacked depth. However, after meeting Martin Luther King, Jr., who was a fan of the show, she decided to stay.
Then she worked alongside Roddenberry to give Uhura revolutionary power and dominance, something we’ve never seen before in this age of television.
“When I was in those great groups with all the cast members, the Star Trek universe began to feel not so much a fantasy but rather an opportunity to lay the foundation for what we might actually achieve by the 23rd century…a bold ambition and an affirmation for Uhura as we eagerly await her arrival,” Nichols wrote. on its website.
One boundary-breaking moment, in 1968, was a kiss between Aura of Nichols and Captain William Shatner James T. Kirk in the episode “Plato’s Stepson Children.” The episode helped reshape what viewers thought was acceptable on television and was an early statement about the acceptance of interracial marriages.
After the original “Star Trek” ended, Nichols became a spokeswoman for NASA, according to her website. She helped recruit astronauts and appeared in public service announcements.
NASA credited Nichols with helping recruit Sally Ride and Frederick Gregory, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“In motivating them as others once did me, it is as if my life has come back, full circle, as the dreams of a young woman begin,” she wrote of the experience on her website.
On Sunday, NASA commemorated Nichols as a global inspiration who helped her evolve.
“We celebrate the life of Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek actress, pioneer, and role model, who symbolized so much that was possible,” the agency chirp. “She partnered with us to recruit some of the first female and minority astronauts, and she inspired generations to reach for the stars.”
The Los Angeles Times reported in her autobiography that she loves to attend Star Trek conventions.
After the news of her death, co-stars and fans alike mourned her loss.
“I will have more to say about the incomparable Major Nichelle Nichols, who shared the bridge with us as Lieutenant Uhura of the USS Enterprise, and who passed away today at the age of 89. The stars you rest upon now, my dear friend,” chirp George Takei, who along with Nichols played the role of “Star Trek” helmet commander Hikaru Solo.
Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., has praised Nichols for her representation.
“Acting is important. Excellence in acting is more important. Thank you, # nichols“Rest well, Grandpa,” she wrote.