Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols has died at the age of 89. News of the actress’ was announced on Nichols‘ Facebook page in a statement from her son Kyle.
His statement read, in part, “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 continued, noting that his mother passed away, but that her legacy will continue. “Her light,” he noted “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.”
And Nichols is no doubt worthy of such cosmic commemoration. Her career spanned several decades and broke down many barriers. Her work on Star Trek is perhaps most noteworthy, not only for its impact on the science fiction genre, but for its ability to push the bounds of television, story-telling, and social justice. Nichols played the character of Nyota Uhura in Star Trek from 1966 through 1991 in both series and film formats. Uhura was a communications officer on the USS Enterprise, specializing in, among other things, linguistics.
Nichols was joined by a diverse and multicultural cast in the original series, which often pushed the conservative and restrictive cultural standards of the decade. Nichelle‘s role as Uhura proved to be historic when, in 1968, she and costar William Shatner had the first televised interracial kiss.
Nichols work did not stop with Star Trek, however. Nichols also worked as a voice actor on many series including the beloved Gargoyles series. Beyond that, Nichelle Nichols also worked with NASA in order to help recruit women and people of color to their programs. But her work didn’t stop with recruitment. Nichols also got the chance to fly on NASA’s SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) on a mission in 2015. Her work with NASA helped recruit astronauts such as Dr. Sally Ride, Force Colonel Guion Bluford, and Dr. Ronald McNair. The 2021 film Woman in Motion, tells the story of Nichols’ involvement in the project.
The loss of Nichols is a loss for us all, as she has certainly contributed to some of America’s most important projects, both creative and technological. Her creative courage has certainly worked to push us into a better future. Her services will be private and include her close friends and family. Our deepest condolences go out to Nichol‘s family, friends and fans.
You can view Kyle Johnson‘s full statement below.