Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols has died

She was 89.

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Igor Bonifacic
July 31, 2022 4:14 PM
In this article: news, entertainment, nasa, Star Trek
NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver (L) and actress Nichelle Nichols from the science fiction television show Star Trek look to the sky as they wait for space shuttle Endeavour prior to its arrival, at Los Angeles International Airport September 21, 2012. Endeavour touched down in Los Angeles on Friday on the back of a jumbo jet, greeted by cheering crowds as it ended a celebratory final flight en route to its retirement home at a Southern California science museum. The 75-ton winged spaceship, ferried by a modified Boeing 747, landed at Los Angeles International Airport after hop-scotching across the country from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and flying a victory lap over California. Endeavour will next undergo preparations to be moved through city streets to the California Science Center in downtown Los Angeles, where it will be put on display starting October 30. REUTERS/Paul E. Alers/NASA/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY TRANSPORT ENTERTAINMENT) MANDATORY CREDIT. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Handout . / reuters

Actress Nichelle Nichols, best known for her role as Nyota Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series, has died. Nichols’ son Kyle Johnson shared the news on Sunday. “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 wrote on Instagram. “Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.” Nichols was 89 when she passed away on Saturday, July 30th of natural causes.

To say Nichols was a trailblazer would be an understatement. She broke into Hollywood at a time when the opportunities for Black women were few and far between. In interviews years after The Original Series ended, Nichols said she had considered quitting the show during its first season to pursue a career on Broadway but had a change of heart after meeting Martin Luther King Jr. King, as a fan of the show and someone who saw Nichols as a role model, was apparently horrified to find out she wanted to leave and convinced her to stay with it. 

Beyond starring in The Original Series and its film sequels as well as making memorable appearances in shows like Heroes and Futurama, Nichols spent decades working with NASA to help the space agency diversify its talent pool. She also famously attended the christening of the Space Shuttle Enterprise in 1976 alongside Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and much of the cast of The Original Series. In 2015, she also flew aboard NASA’s SOFIA telescope during an eight-hour flight where the observatory studied Mars and Saturn. She will be missed.

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