‘Star Trek’ Actress Nichelle Nichols Dead At 89

NASA

Actress Nichelle Nichols is best known for her role as Lt. Uhura on the original “Star Trek” series. While there had been other Black actresses on TV before her, she was the first not to be playing a servant. Martin Luther King Jr. once called her role “the first non-stereotypical role portrayed by a Black woman in television history.” He encouraged her not to quit but to stay on the show. Besides being groundbreaking simply by portraying Lt. Uhura, she also made history with TV’s first interracial kiss between a Black woman and a white man.

Nichols list of TV credits also includes “Peyton Place,” “Tarzan,” “Star Trek: The Animated Series,” “Head of the Class,” “Batman: The Animated Series,” “Gargoyles,” “Good vs Evil,” “Futurama,” “The Simpsons,” “Heroes,” “The Young and the Restless,” and Renegades” just to name a few.

Nichols never retired from acting. In fact, she was attached to several projects that are currently in pre-production; however, her acting career is officially over. Her son, Kyle Johnson, announced that his mother passed away due to “natural causes.” She died on July 30, 2022, at the age of 89.

Johnson wrote, “I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years. 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.” He continued, “Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all. I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.” 

Johnson ended the announcement by quoting Star Trek by writing, “Live Long and Prosper.”

After “Star Trek” ended, Nichols worked with NASA with the goal of making the space program more diverse. Upon learning of her death, NASA tweeted that Nichols “was an inspiration to many, not just for her groundbreaking work on Star Trek but also through her work with NASA to recruit women and people of color to apply to become astronauts.”

Watch the video below to learn more about Nichols life.