Nichelle Nichols Death and Obituary: Nichelle Nichols, the actor most known for her role as an on-screen lieutenant on the bridge of a spaceship in the Star Trek franchise, passed away on Saturday. Her portrayal of this position was a breakthrough example of representation for African Americans in Hollywood (30 July). Her age was 89.
On Sunday (31 July), the actor’s son Kyle Johnson posted a message on Instagram confirming his mother’s passing. According to what he wrote, his mother, Nichelle Nichols, had gone away the previous evening due to natural causes. “Her light, however, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration from, just like the ancient galaxies that are now being seen for the first time.”
“Hers was a life well lived, and as such, she served as a model for all of us,” Johnson stated further. Actors such as Lynda Carter and Colman Domingo were among those who paid tribute to Nichols after her passing. George Takei, another alumnus of the Star Trek franchise, took the lead in leading the tributes to Nichols.
Nichelle Nichols Acting Career
Nichols gained to popularity after being selected to play the role of Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, the ship’s communications officer, in the space adventure series Star Trek, which debuted in 1966. It was one of the first major roles for a Black woman in a US television series, it was among the first portrayals of a Black woman in a military-style command role in any format, and it would later culminate in one of the first on-screen kisses between a white actor, William Shatner, and a Black co-star. These are just a few of the reasons why this role was historically significant.
Her time spent in that part was only a few years long because the program was canceled in 1969, yet the show’s influence would remain for decades after its conclusion. Reportedly, famed civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tried to convince her to continue playing the character throughout the series’s brief run in order to keep her on board. In subsequent Star Trek films, notably “The Search for Spock,” Nichelle Nichols would eventually play the part of Lieutenant Uhura multiple times.
In addition to her work on Star Trek, Nichols is planning to collaborate with NASA, the United States space agency, in an effort to increase the number of women and people of color participating in the agency’s astronaut and science programs. Sally Ride, the first American woman to ever become an astronaut, was recruited as a result of this initiative.