Nichelle ‘Lt. Uhura’ Nichols Dies of Natural Causes at 89

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Courtesy of NASA (Picryl PDM)

History-making “Star Trek” actress Nichelle Nichols died of natural causes on Saturday evening in Silver City, New Mexico. She was 89. Her son announced her death on Facebook, and a family friend confirmed when and where she passed away.

Nichols portrayed Lt. Nyota Uhura in the original “Star Trek” series. She was the only Black person on the main crew and one of two women. Gene Roddenberry’s genius unfolded through his racially and sexually diverse cast. Many firsts happened during the three seasons it aired. One of the most celebrated was the first interracial kiss on television in “Plato’s Stepchildren,” aired on Nov. 22, 1968, one year after the United States Supreme Court declared interracial marriage constitutional. Her character was one of the first Black to fill a non-stereotypical role. Nichols showed audiences she was like them, no matter their color. Many women remember Lt. Uhura fondly. They considered her a role model for her intelligence and upper management job.

While Nichols is well known for her time with the “Star Trek” franchise, her career began years earlier. Some of her first gigs include one in 1959: she danced with Sammy Davis, Jr. in “Porgy and Bess,” she was Joanne Logan in “Great Gettin’ Up Mornin,'” a TV movie in 1964, and a nurse in a couple of episodes on “Payton Place” in 1964. Nichols regularly acted throughout the years until her death. At the time, she had two projects in pre-production.

She was born Grace Dell Nichols on Dec. 23, 1932, in Robbins, a village southwest of Chicago, Illinois. Nichols was married twice and had one child.

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:

IMDb: Nichelle Nichols
CNN: Nichelle Nichols, trailblazing ‘Star Trek’ actress, dies at 89; by Zoe Sottile, Chris Boyette, and Todd Leopold

Featured and Top Image by Amanda Diller for NASA Courtesy of Picryl – Public Domain License

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