Nickel Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura in the original Star Trek, has died at the age of 89. star trek

Nichol Nichols, who played communications officer Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in the original Star Trek series and helped create a new era for television in the 1960s, has died in New Mexico at the age of 89.

Nichols’ son, Kyle Johnson, announced his death via Facebook on Sunday, saying: “I regret to inform you that a great light in the sky no longer shines for us as it has for so many years.” Nichols’s death in Silver City on Saturday night was confirmed by his agent.

Johnson said his mother died of natural causes seven years after the stroke.

“Their light, like the ancient galaxies now being observed for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and inspire.”

Nichols will be remembered primarily for her role in the science-fiction adventure series, but she began her career as a dancer and nightclub singer.

US President Joe Biden paid tribute to Nichols, saying he “broke stereotypes”. “Our country has lost a pioneer of the stage and screen that has redefined what is possible for black Americans and women”.

“Our nation is forever indebted to inspiring artists like Nickel Nichols, who show us a future where unity, dignity and respect are the cornerstones of every society.”

Co-star George Takei tweeted that his heart was heavy, “my eyes are shining like the stars between whom you now rest, my dearest friend” and that he soon had an “incomparable” trailblazer to say. There will be more.

I’ll have more to say about the trailblazing, incomparable Nickel Nichols, who shared the bridge with us as Lieutenant Uhura of the USS Enterprise, and who passed away today at the age of 89. For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes are shining like my dear friend, now you rest among the stars.

— George Takei (@George Takei) 31 July 2022

Prominent Georgia Democrat and voting rights organizer Stacey Abrams, who is running for state re-election and is a longtime Star Trek fan, tweeted a photo of herself with Nichols.

“One of my most treasured photos – Nichol Nichols from Godspeed, champion, warrior and tremendous actor. His kindness and bravery paved the way for many,” she wrote. “He has always been among the stars.”

Star Trek brought Nichols a permanent identity and helped break down some of the racial barriers in the television business as they pervaded elsewhere.

They shared one of the first lip-to-lip interracial kisses on television – with co-star William Shatner, aka Captain Kirk. At the time, the kiss was considered a step forward on the part of the actors, as well as Star Trek producer Gene Roddenberry, and NBC, the network that aired the show.

The episode in question, titled Plato’s Stepchildren, aired in 1968 and was designed in such a way that those involved were met with little of any potentially discriminatory backlash: Uhura and Kirk choose not to kiss, Rather living after it was made to do so. by aliens.

Roddenberry reportedly insisted on a unified crew for the Starship Enterprise – a bold move given that interracial marriage was still illegal in 17 US states. Only a year ago, Variety reported, Sammy Davis Jr. went no further than kissing Nancy Sinatra on the cheek on Movies With Nancy.

Nicholas as Lieutenant Uhura in a 1968 Star Trek episode
Nicholas as Lieutenant Uhura in a 1968 Star Trek episode. Photograph: CBS Photo Archive/CBS/Getty Images

The original Star Trek premiered on NBC on September 8, 1966. Its multicultural, multiracial cast was producer Gene Roddenberry’s message to audiences that in the distant future, in the 23rd century, human diversity would be more fully accepted.

“I think many people took it to heart … that what was being said on TV at the time was a reason to celebrate,” Nichols said in 1992 when a Star Trek exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution. was being seen.

She often recalled how civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was a fan of the show and admired her role.

She met him at a civil rights gathering in 1967, at a time when he had decided not to return for the show’s second season.

“When I told him I was going to miss my co-stars and that I was leaving the show, he got very serious and said ‘You can’t do that’,” she told The Tulsa World in a 2008 interview. told.

“You’ve changed the face of television forever, and therefore, you’ve changed people’s views,” she said as the civil rights leader told her.

Nichols said: “Dr. King’s foresight was a lightning bolt in my life.”

More recently, she had a recurring role in Heroes of Television, playing the great-grandmother of a young boy with mysterious powers.

Nichols, trained as a dancer and also worked as a nightclub chanteuse, The Washington Post reported that he thought being cast in Star Trek would be a “good stepping stone” to Broadway stage fame, not realizing it. was doing that TV show and his character would become an iconic and enduring smash hit.

Actor Wilson Cruz wrote on Twitter that “representation matters”.

Nicholas prepared it for us. With his presence and his grace, he has highlighted who we people of color are and inspired us to reach our potential.” he has written, “Relax, the shining diamond in the sky.”

smithsonian tweeted a picture Lt. Uhura’s iconic red mini-dress and noted that Nichols “made history for African American women in TV and film. Nichols volunteered to recruit women and people of color for NASA.

Today we remember Nickel Nichols. He starred as Lieutenant Uhura on “Star Trek” and is now wearing this uniform. @NMAAHC, is making history for African American women in TV and film. Nichols also volunteered to recruit women and people of color for NASA. #cosofferStory

— smithsonian (@smithsonian) 31 July 2022

Nichols was born Grace Dale Nichols on 28 December 1932 in Robbins, Illinois. According to the National Space Society, he sang with jazz great Duke Ellington as a 16-year-old—his career was underway at a young age—in a ballet he created, and later joined his band.

His big break in the 1961 Chicago musical Kicks & Co. Nichols later appeared in the title role in Carmen Jones and New York staged appearances in Porgy and Bess as well as Jean Janet’s The Blacks, and landed minor film roles.

Nichols was married and divorced twice, and is survived by his son, Kyle Johnson.

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