It is with great sadness that I have to write about the passing of Nichelle Nichols, who will always be the one and only Lt. Uhura from the classic Star Trek series. Sadly the actor had been in poor health for some time having suffered a mild stroke back in 2015.
Nichols was a key component of the original Star Trek cast as she played alongside William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and Deforest Kelly and blazed a trail of being one of the first television series to have African American representation on US Television. She famously shared television’s first interracial kiss with William Shatner and was pretty much among the first Black series regulars in a US television series. In fact during the break between seasons one and two of the original show. Nichols considered leaving the series, but a meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr. ensured that she kept the Enterprise’s hailing frequencies open.
A longstanding favorite at Star Trek and Science Fiction conventions. Nichols who was 89 was a longstanding supporter of Star Trek fans and positively encouraged those that she met at conventions to pursue their dreams. She was also an inspiration to a certain Whoopi Goldberg who went into performing after seeing Nichelle Nichols on that Bridge. Goldberg would go on to portray Guinan in the first spin-off series Star Trek: The Next Generation.
When not in front of a camera. Nichols was a key player and activist in helping to scout ethnic talent for NASA’s Space Program during a good part of the 1970s and 80s. The actor famously formed a company called ‘Women In Motion’ which scouted for women of color with the talents needed to work at NASA. I was lucky enough to interview Nichelle Nichols on two occasions for scifipulse.net. The first was back in the very early days when I heard about a book project that she was working on. And the second time was a memorable sit-down chat with Both Nichols and LeVar Burton at an SFB event.
We here at SciFiPulse wish to pass on our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Nichelle Nichols and hope that she has found herself in a better and more peaceful place.