Nichelle Nichols, who played the seminal Lt. Uhura has died at the age of 89.
Her son Kyle Johnson announced the actor’s death on Instagram (opens in new tab). He wrote: “I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament does not shine for us as it has for so many years. Last night my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and died. However, their light, 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 from. Her life was a life well lived and as such a role model for all of us.”
Other tributes have spilled over from the world of Star Trek and beyond.
“I’ll have more to say about the groundbreaking, incomparable Nichelle Nichols, who served as Lt. Uhura of the USS Enterprise shared the bridge with us and died today at the age of 89. For today my heart is heavy my eyes shine like the stars under which you now rest my dearest friend,” wrote George Takei, who played Sulu in the original series Twitter (opens in new tab).
William Shatner said on Twitter (opens in new tab)“I am so sorry to hear of Nichelle’s death. She was a beautiful woman and played an admirable character who did so much to redefine social issues both here in the US and around the world. I will surely miss her Love and condolences to her family.”
In an opinion (opens in new tab)US President Joe Biden said, “With the loss of Nichelle Nichols, our nation lost a stage and screen pioneer who redefined what’s possible for Black Americans and women.”
Politician Stacy Abrams, who recently had a cameo role in Star Trek: Discovery, shared a picture of herself with Nichols. She wrote: “One of my most treasured photos – Godspeed to Nichelle Nichols, champion, warrior and amazing actress. Her kindness and courage paved the way for many. May she dwell among the stars forever.”
One of my most treasured photos – Godspeed to Nichelle Nichols, champion, warrior and amazing actress. Her kindness and courage paved the way for many. May she dwell among the stars forever. #RIPNichelle #Uhura pic.twitter.com/nFXHif8HECJuly 31, 2022
Wonder Woman actress Lynda Carter also joined the wave of tributes on social media (opens in new tab). “Many actors become stars, but few stars can move a nation. Nichelle Nichols showed us the extraordinary power of black women and paved the way for a brighter future for all women in media. Thank you, Nichelle. We will miss you.”
Nichols’ role as Uhura was one of the first prominent black characters on American television. Her 1968 kiss with William Shatner’s Captain Kirk on an episode of Star Trek also made history as one of the first interracial kisses to be televised. Nichols later appeared in Heroes and lent her voice to roles in Gargoyles and Batman: The Animated Series.