ENTERTAINMENT

Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura on ‘Star Trek,’ has died at 89

Jul 31, 2022, 2:11 PM | Updated: 2:46 pm
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 04:  Actress Nichelle Nichols arrives at the premiere of Neon's "Colossal" ...
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 04: Actress Nichelle Nichols arrives at the premiere of Neon's "Colossal" at the Vista Theatre on April 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Nichelle Nichols, who broke barriers for Black women in Hollywood when she played communications officer Lt. Uhura on the original “Star Trek” television series, has died at the age of 89.

Her son Kyle Johnson said Nichols died Saturday in Silver City, New Mexico.

“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,” Johnson wrote on her official Facebook page Sunday. “Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.”

Her role in the 1966-69 series as Lt. Uhura earned Nichols a lifelong position of honor with the series’ rabid fans, known as Trekkers and Trekkies. It also earned her accolades for breaking stereotypes that had limited Black women to acting roles as servants and included an interracial onscreen kiss with co-star William Shatner that was unheard of at the time.

“I shall have more to say about the trailblazing, incomparable Nichelle Nichols, who shared the bridge with us as Lt. Uhura of the USS Enterprise, and who passed today at age 89,” George Takei wrote on Twitter. “For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend.”

Like other original cast members, Nichols also appeared in six big-screen spinoffs starting in 1979 with “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and frequented “Star Trek” fan conventions. She also served for many years as a NASA recruiter, helping bring minorities and women into the astronaut corps.

The original “Star Trek” premiered on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966. Its multicultural, multiracial cast was creator Gene Roddenberry’s message to viewers that in the far-off future — the 23rd century — human diversity would be fully accepted.

“I think many people took it into their hearts … that what was being said on TV at that time was a reason to celebrate,” Nichols said in 1992 when a “Star Trek” exhibit was on view at the Smithsonian Institution.

She often recalled how Martin Luther King Jr. was a fan of the show and praised her role. She met him at a civil rights gathering in 1967, at a time when she had decided not to return for the show’s second season.

“When I told him I was going to miss my co-stars and I was leaving the show, he became very serious and said, ‘You cannot do that,’” she told The Tulsa (Okla.) World in a 2008 interview.

“’You’ve changed the face of television forever, and therefore, you’ve changed the minds of people,’” she said the civil rights leader told her.

“That foresight Dr. King had was a lightning bolt in my life,” Nichols said.

More recently, she had a recurring role on television’s “Heroes,” playing the great-aunt of a young boy with mystical powers.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Entertainment

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta attend the "Grease" 40th anniversary screening in August 2018 ...
Sandra Gonzalez, CNN

John Travolta pays tribute to Olivia Newton-John

Actor John Travolta, who co-starred with Olivia Newton-John in the hit movie musical "Grease," has posted a statement in tribute to the late singer.
1 day ago
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 16: Olivia Newton-John performs during Fire Fight Australia at ANZ Sta...
Brandon Griggs, CNN

Olivia Newton-John, singer and actress, dead at 73

Olivia Newton-John, who charmed generations of viewers in the blockbuster movie "Grease," died on Monday, according to a statement from her husband.
1 day ago
(KCAL/KCBS)...
Chloe Melas and Cheri Mossburg, CNN

Anne Heche under investigation for DUI and hit and run, police say

Actress Anne Heche is being investigated for misdemeanor DUI and hit and run after crashing her vehicle into a Los Angeles residence on Friday.
1 day ago
On August 6, Mike Tyson voiced his displeasure over Hulu's new series "Mike," which debuts on Augus...
Frank Pallotta, CNN Business

Mike Tyson slams Hulu’s new series about him: ‘They stole my life story’

Mike Tyson is not happy about Hulu's new scripted limited series about his life.
1 day ago
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Anne Heche attends the 74th Annual Directors Guild Of America...
LYNN ELBER AP Television Writer

Anne Heche in hospital, ‘stable’ after fiery car crash

Actor Anne Heche is in the hospital after a fiery crash in Los Angeles. A representative told The Associated Press that Heche was in stable condition Saturday.
2 days ago
Kim Kardashian and comedian Pete Davidson, seen here arriving for the 2022 Met Gala at the Metropol...
Chloe Melas, CNN

Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson end relationship

Kete is no more. Kim Kardashian and comedian Pete Davidson have ended their relationship, a source close to the couple tells CNN.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura on ‘Star Trek,’ has died at 89