Death of Nichelle Nichols: Uhura Will Join the Stars

Death of Nichelle Nichols: Uhura Will Join the Stars

African-American actress Nichelle Nichols, best known for her high-profile pioneering role in the cult series Star Trek, died at the age of 89 on Saturday night, her family said in a statement Sunday.

“Last night my mother, Nichelle Nichols, passed away of natural causes,” their son, Kyle, told the actress’ official website, “His life was well lived and was a role model for all of us.”

A family spokesman said the actress died in Silver City, New Mexico, where she lived with her son.

This former dancer-singer – who played Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in the 1960s science fiction series, an officer of African descent who is fluent in Swahili – quickly became a civil rights icon.

Her role as a high-ranking black woman had earned her the admiration of the 1968 assassinated Martin Luther King, who asked her not to leave Star Trek as planned, telling her it was the only series he allowed his children to watch , she said.

Death of Nichelle Nichols: Uhura will join the stars

When William Shatner, who played the famous Captain Kirk, and Nichelle Nichols kissed in 1968, it was the first kiss between a white person and a black person on American television.

In the 1970s, Nichelle Nichols made a video to help NASA recruit astronauts, particularly women and minorities.

“My heart is heavy,” tweeted another character on the show, George Takei. “My eyes shine like the stars where you rest now, my dear friend”.

Grace Dell Nichols, born December 28, 1932 in Chicago, began her career at the age of 14 as a dancer and singer with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Best known for her role in the first Star Trek series, she had also danced with Sammy Davis Jr. on Porgy and Bess, acted in other television series, and recorded two albums.

She also played Uhura, a name derived from the Swahili word “freedom,” in the first six Star Trek films.