Star Trek icon Nichelle Nichols has died, her son has confirmed in a moving tribute on social media.
The actress played Lieutenant Nyota Uhura on Star Trek: The Original Series between 1966 and 1969.
Nichelle’s acting career was impressive, lasting more than 40 years. She is known for making incredible waves in Hollywood for the representation of woman of color on television.
Her son Kyle Johnson confirmed the tragic news the star had died on his Instagram. He also penned the tribute on her Facebook page for fans.
‘Her light will remain’
Her son Kyle wrote: “Friends, Fans, Colleagues, World
“I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years.
“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.
“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.
“Live Long and Prosper.”
Nichelle Nichols’ incredible career
The space star was awarded the NASA Exceptional Public Achievement Medal in 2021. This was for inspiring and recruiting diverse communities to join the space agency’s programs.
Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories – Nichelle’s memoir – saw the star recall an incredible moment with a fan that changed her life, writes AJC.
The actress was considering quitting Star Trek after the first season as she was offered a gig in a play and dreamt of being a Broadway star.
However, fan, Dr. Martin King Jr said to the star: “You cannot and you must not. Don’t you realize how important your presence, your character is? … Don’t you see?
“This is not a Black role, and this is not a female role. You have the first non stereotypical role on television, male or female. You have broken ground.
“… For the first time,” he continued, “the world sees us as we should be seen, as equals, as intelligent people — as we should be.”
Star Trek’s interracial kiss
Star Trek brought conversations forward after broadcasting an interracial kiss on air in 1968. It came a year after the Supreme Court declared interracial marriage legal, and the show had Captain Kirk and Lt Uhura kiss on set.
In the episode, aliens force the characters against their will to kiss each other through their powers.
54 years ago, the lip-locking scene helped to change attitudes in the US about what was allowed to be on TV and what was not. It came as some parts of the United States struggled to accept interracial relationships amid racism and civil rights.
The moment between Kirk and Uhura in Plato’s Stepchildren, during season 3 episode 10, has often been referred to as the ‘first interracial kiss’ however, this isn’t true. Although, due to the huge following and viewership which would tune in to each episode, the reach was cast far and wide.
Fans pay tribute to ‘trailblazing icon’
One fan wrote: “I’m so sorry, Kyle. She was Lt. Uhura to us. To you she was a beloved matriarch. To the Black community she was a trailblazing icon” They then concluded with: “To all of us she was beloved.”
A second added: “RIP Great Lady! You will always be a shining light. So sorry you have lost your Mother. Bright Blessings and Peace.”
A third then said: “Our condolences to you and your family. She was an inspiration to many including myself. I wish I could have met her.”
This was followed by a fourth: “Your mother was an inspiration to millions of young people around this world. She paved the way for so many people around this world.”
In other news, Is there a post-credit scene in Violent Night?