Star Trek Trailblazing Actress Nichelle Nichols Dies

Image Source: Indian Express

Nichelle Nichols, an American actress most recognized for her work on the science fiction television series Star Trek in the 1960s, passed away at the age of 89.

As Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in the television series, Nichelle Nichols broke down barriers and became one of the first black actresses in the US to portray a leader.

In an effort to recruit more women and African-Americans as astronauts, she was later hired by NASA.

Kyle Johnson, her son, reported that she passed away on Saturday night from natural causes.

In the “Star Trek” TV series and many of its spinoff films, Nichols played communications officer Lt. Nyota Uhura.

A black woman with a significant role in a prime-time television series, Nichelle Nichols was a television rarity when “Star Trek” premiered in 1966. African-American women had previously appeared on television, but they typically portrayed domestic helpers or had minor roles; Uhura, played by Nichols, was a crucial member of the multicultural “Star Trek” crew.

In television history, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. referred to it as “the first non-stereotypical part portrayed by a black woman.”

When Nichols’ character kissed James T. Kirk, who was played by white Canadian actor William Shatner, it was one of the first inter-racial kisses on US television. According to Nichols, the kiss scene “changed television forever, and it also transformed the way people looked at one another” in a 2014 interview with CNN.

Nichols committed herself to the space program after the three-season run of “Trek.” She aided in the recruitment of astronauts Sally Ride, Judith Resnik, and Guion Bluford, among others, and contributed to NASA’s becoming a more diverse organization.

Hikaru Sulu’s captain of the USS Enterprise, George Takei, offered a heartfelt remembrance of his co-star.

By using performers of color in prominent roles, the Star Trek TV series dispelled preconceptions in the 1960s.

In the series, Ms. Nicholls played Lt. Uhura, who was shown as a capable and level-headed communications officer, defying stereotypes.

She and William Shatner, who portrayed Captain Kirk in the Star Trek television series, made history in 1968 when they enjoyed one of the first interracial kisses on television, even if it was not a romantic one.

Ms. Nicholls had initially thought about leaving the show despite her success. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., however, persuaded her otherwise by claiming that her portrayal was the “first non-stereotypical part performed by a black woman in television history.”

She later appeared in the first six Star Trek films after the television series ended in 1969.

Along with her acting career, Ms. Nicholls took on the role of ambassador for NASA, the US space agency, and assisted in the program’s recruitment of women and underrepresented groups.

Nichelle Nichols Brief Biography

In 1932, Grace Dell Nichols was born not far from Chicago. When she was a teenager, she adopted the name Nichelle because she was unhappy with Grace. A divide in his family was created when his grandfather, a white Southerner, wed a black lady.

With a four-octave vocal range, Nichols began singing in local bars at the age of 14. She met many musicians, including Duke Ellington, who later invited her on tour. She also did a lot of theater and nightclub work in Chicago.

Early in the 1960s, she relocated to Los Angeles and was cast in “The Lieutenant,” a Gene Roddenberry television series. Leonard Nimoy, Walter Koenig, Majel Barrett, and other “Star Trek” veterans contributed to the program.


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Anthony Carter

I’m Anthony and I finished my degree graduate studies on Public Administration and I spend most of my free time in contributing written works about community development, public administration and lifestyle.

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