Death at 89 of Nichelle Nichols, black heroine of Star Trek
Eva Deschamps / August 1, 2022
African-American actress Nichelle Nichols, known for her pioneering role as a high ranking officer in the cult series Star Trek, died on Saturday night at the age of 89, her family announced Sunday in a statement.
Last night, my mother Nichelle Nichols passed away from natural causes, her son Kyle said on the actress' official website, uhura.com. Her life was well lived and was a role model for us all. The former dancer and singer, who portrayed Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, an officer of African descent and fluent in Swahili, on the 1960s sci-fi series, had quickly become a civil rights icon.
Her role as a high-ranking black woman earned her the admiration of Martin Luther King, who was assassinated in 1968, who asked her not to leave Star Trek as she had planned, telling her it was the only show he allowed his children to watch, she said. In 1968, when William Shatner, who played the famous Captain Kirk, and Nichelle Nichols kissed, it was the first kiss between a white person and a person of color on American television. In the 1970s, Nichelle Nichols made a video to help NASA recruit astronauts, especially women and minorities. Born on December 28, 1932 in Chicago, Grace Dell Nichols began her career at the age of 14 as a dancer and singer with Duke Ellington's band. Best known for her role in the first Star Trek series, she also danced with Sammy Davis Jr. in Porgy and Bess, acted in other television series and recorded two albums.