Nichelle Nichols, who made history and earned the admiration of Martin Luther King Jr. for her role as a communications officer lieutenant Uhura above Star Trek, has died. She is 89 years old.
Nichols, who previously sang and danced as a performer with Duke Ellington’s orchestra, died Saturday night of natural causes, her son, Kyle Johnson, posted on the page. Her official Facebook on Sunday.
“I regret to inform you that a wonderful light in the lighting system no longer shines for us as it has for many years. Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. However, her light, like those of ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration from,” said Johnson. write. “Her life was a good one and a role model for all of us. Me and the rest of our family, will appreciate your patience and patience as we grieve her loss until we can recover enough to say more. . Her services will be available to family members and closest friends of hers and we ask that her and our privacy be respected.”
Nichols played a powerful man on television at a time when most Black women were playing servants.
She was cast in the role Uhura via Star Trek Gene’s creator Roddenberry after she made a cameo as fiancee about a black US Marine who was a victim of racism in a 1964 episode of another NBC show he created, Camp Pendleton-set sublieutenant.
(Leonard Nimoy and Ricardo Montalbantwo other people Star Trek actor, has appeared on Roddenberry whole series.)
In the 2010 documentary Trek NationNichols said she informed Roddenberry midway Star Trekthe first season in 1966-67 that she wanted to quit the show and go back to musical theater, which she called “her first love”.
Yet a chance encounter with King at the NAACP fundraiser – who knew he was a Trekker? – get Nichols to stay.
“He told me that Star Trek was one of the only shows that his wife Coretta and he would allow their young children to stay watch,” she recalls. “I thanked him and I told him I was leaving the show. All smiles were on his face and he said, ‘You can’t do that. Don’t you understand, for the first time, are we seen as we should be? You do not have a black role. You have an equal role. ‘
“I got back to work on Monday morning and went to Gene’s office and told him what happened over the weekend. And he said, ‘Welcome home. We have a lot of work to do.’ “
Speak Roddenberry in the documentary: “I’m so glad that in those days, when you couldn’t even watch Negro on television, that I wasn’t just a Negro but a Black woman and a soldier. Black Officer.”
Nichols played Nyota Uhurapeople from the future African United States, in all three seasons of the series, which featured a multiracial, multiracial crew manning the deck of the Starship Enterprise.
She reprized this role in all six Star Trek films from 1979 to 1991, about the animated series and some video games and about a 2002 episode of exhibition about the future.
In the last two Star Trek film directed by JJ Abrams, Uhura described by Zoe Saldana.
In the original Star Trek episode “Plato’s Stepchildren”, first aired in November 1968, Uhura and Captain Kirk (William Shatner) shared an interracial kiss. (They couldn’t help themselves; according to the plot, the aliens made them do it.)
When NBC executives learned about the kiss during production, they were afraid stations in the Southern states wouldn’t air the episode, so they asked to shoot another version of the scene. But Nichols and Shatner deliberately twist each addition.
“In the end, the people in charge were satisfied: ‘Damn it. Let’s go with the kiss,” Nichols wrote in her 1994 book, Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories. “I guess they figured we were going to be canceled in a few months anyway. And so the kiss stayed.”
inside mid-1970safter Nichols accepted NASA’s assignment in a speech for not reaching out to women and minorities, the organization asked her to be a recruiter.
“I went everywhere,” she said. “I went to universities with strong science and engineering programs. I am a guest of NORAD [The North American Aerospace Defense Command]where no one had been before.
“At the end of the recruitment, NASA had a lot of highly qualified people. They married six women, they married three African-American men… that’s a very fulfilling achievement for me. “
Among those who applied to NASA thanks to Nichols were Sally Ride, Judith ResnikRonald McNair and Ellison Onizuka. A documentary about her efforts, Woman in motionpremiered in 2018.
Grace Nichols was born on December 28, 1932, in the Chicago suburb of Robbins, Illinois, where she studied dance at the Chicago Ballet Academy. As a teenager, she toured as a dancer with Ellington and Lionel Hampton, then sang for the first time with Ellington’s band when one performer fell ill at the last minute.
She danced with Sammy Davis Jr. In Satire and bess (1959), was a dice player in James Garner Mister Buddwing (1966) and played the evil leader of a prostitution ring who took out Isaac Hayes in Revolving truck (1974). In 1968, she recorded an album, Reality.
Nichols appears as the grandmother of vengeful angel Monica Dawson (Dana Davis), who has the power to mimic any physical movement she witnesses, on the NBC series Hero.
Her recent dramas appear more Snow dog (2002), Are we There Yet? (2005) and This bitter earth (2012).
Survivors include her son, Johnson, who starred in the film Gordon Parks . Learning tree (1969). The LA time reported in August 2021 that he was at the center of a conservatorship battle over his mother.