Born in suburban Chicago in 1928, Nichols began her career acting in musicals and was cast in small film roles before starring in Star Trek in 1966 as one of the first black actresses in a US TV series.
As Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, she was part of the legendary first crew of “Star Trek”, led by William Shatner, aka Captain Kirk. When she kissed Captain Kirk in 1968, it was the first kiss between a black woman and a white man in American television history. Although the kiss was barely visible from the camera’s perspective, some television stations in the southern US refused to air this episode.
Among her fans was civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., who reportedly persuaded her not to give up her role when she would have considered leaving after the first season because of an offer from Broadway. Former US President Barack Obama is said to have confessed to her at a meeting in 2012 that he claimed to have fallen in love with the actress when he was young.
picturedesk.com/Ronald Grant Archive/Mary Evans From the very first episode of Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols was on board
Commitment to NASA
After her “Star Trek” career, she continued to appear on screen and TV for many years, worked in many productions as a voice actress, and released two jazz albums. She helped recruit women and other formerly underrepresented groups as part of a US Space Agency (NASA) recruitment drive.
Nichols was the first black actress to have her handprints immortalized in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. In 1992, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. An asteroid was named after her in 2001.
fellow actors cry
Star Trek co-star George Takei, aka Lieutenant Sulu, called Nichols “groundbreaking” and “unparalleled” on the short message service Twitter: He’ll talk more about her later. “For today my heart is heavy and my eyes shine like the stars under which you now rest, my dear friend.”
Actress Kate Mulgrew, who was in charge of the bridge as Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager, wrote: “Nichelle Nichols was the first. She was a pioneer walking a very difficult path with courage, grace and a great fire that we will probably never see. again.”
Nichelle Nichols was the first. She was a pioneer who walked a very challenging path with courage, grace and a beautiful fire that we probably won’t see again.
— Kate Mulgrew (@TheKateMulgrew) July 31, 2022
Other American stars and politicians also expressed their regret on social media. Rapper Chuck D. posted a drawing of Nichols on Twitter.
Before Scotty shined, Before Spock cast Vulcan signals, Before Kirk told Sulu to take him to Warp Factor 9… Mana Uhura… Nichelle Nichols was going to have that tight hair, right skirt, and dangling earrings BEFORE deal with outer space.. 🙏🏿 pic.twitter.com/bWPR3LJwTQ
— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) July 31, 2022
“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 the media,” said actress Lynda Carter Nichols. “Your kindness and courage paved the way for many,” wrote Stacey Abrams, an American Democrat. from Georgia.
crew is decreasing
With his death, the crew of the Enterprise continues to shrink: DeForest Kelley, aka Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy died of cancer in 1999, and James Doohan as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott died of pneumonia in 2005. Leonard Nimoy also died of a lung disease in 2015. That leaves just Shatner, aka Captain James T. Kirk. , Takei (Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu) and Walter Koenig (Pavel Andreievich Chekov) from the regular cast alive.