Friday, August 12, 2022

Nichelle Nichols: Trailblazing ‘Star Trek’ Actress Dies at 89

Nichelle Nichols
LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 05: Nichelle Nichols and son Kyle Johnson attend Day 3 of the 2021 Los Angeles Comic Con held at Los Angeles Convention Center on December 5, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

*(CNN) — Actress and singer Nichelle Nichols, best known for her groundbreaking portrayal of Lt. Nyota Uhura in “Star Trek: The Original Series,” has died at age 89, according to a statement from her son, Kyle Johnson.

“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 said in a statement shared to Nichols’ official site on Sunday. “Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.”

Nichols died from natural causes, he said.

Nichols portrayed communications officer Lt. Nyota Uhura in the “Star Trek” TV series and many of its film offshoots.

MORE NEWS ON EURWEB: On ‘The Doctors’: Nichelle Nichols’ Close friend Angelique Fawcette Speaks on Nasty Conservatorship Battle / WATCH

When “Star Trek” began in 1966, Nichols was a television rarity: a Black woman in a notable role on a prime-time television series. There had been African-American women on TV before, but they often played domestic workers and had small roles; Nichols’ Uhura was an integral part of the multicultural “Star Trek” crew.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called it “the first non-stereotypical role portrayed by a Black woman in television history.”

Nichols is widely known for participating in one of the first interracial kisses on US television when her character kissed James T. Kirk, portrayed by White Canadian actor William Shatner. In an interview with CNN in 2014, Nichols said the kiss scene “changed television forever, and it also changed the way people looked at one another.”

Nichelle Nichols - GettyImages
Nichelle Nichols – GettyImages

After “Trek’s” three-season run, Nichols dedicated herself to the space program. She helped NASA in making the agency more diverse, helping to recruit astronauts Sally Ride, Judith Resnik and Guion Bluford, among others.

The-CNN-Wire
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