According to a notice published on her official Facebook page by her son Kyle, Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura in the original Star Trek series, died Sunday morning. She was 89 years old.
“I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years,” he wrote.
“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.”
Lt. Nyota Uhura, who was played by Nichelle Nichols on all three seasons of the original series (1966-1969), is one of her most famous roles. She also appeared in each of the six “Star Trek” blockbusters from 1979 through 1991.
Kyle added in the post: “Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all. I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.”
He signed off with the signature “Star Trek” send off, “Live Long and Prosper.”
Nichols had health issues in recent years. In 2015, she had a minor stroke and she was also reportedly suffering from dementia. There was a guardianship battle over her. Her co-star, George Takei, tweeted a picture with her from one of the many fan-centered, comic circuits they attended together through the years.
“We lived long and prospered together,” Takei wrote. “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. For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend.”
She overcame racial prejudice to gain national attention. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. personally encouraged her to continue working on the program when she expressed doubts about continuing working on it, earning accolades for shattering preconceptions for black actresses. She met him at a civil rights gathering in 1967.
He said, ‘You cannot do that,'” Nichols recalled. “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 during a meeting.”
Nichols and Shatner, who played Capt. James Kirk, made TV history by sharing an interracial kiss during the third season of “Star Trek.”
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