Image Source: Indian Express
Nichelle Nichols, an American actress best known for her part in the science fiction television series Star Trek in the 1960s, passed away at the age of 89.
One of the first black actresses in the US to portray a person in authority, Ms. Nichols broke down barriers with the part of Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in the television series.
Later, she worked for NASA in an endeavor to recruit more women and African-Americans as astronauts.
Kyle Johnson, her son, reported that she passed away on Saturday night from natural causes.
In the “Star Trek” TV series and many of its film spinoffs, Nichols played communications officer Lt. Nyota Uhura.
A television rarity when “Star Trek” premiered in 1966: a black woman in a significant role in a prime-time television series. Prior to Nichols’ Uhura, there had been black women on television, but they typically portrayed domestic helpers or had minor roles. Uhura was a crucial member of the multicultural “Star Trek” crew.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. referred to it as “the first non-stereotypical part portrayed by a black woman in television history.”
Nichelle Nichols is well-known for taking part in one of the first interracial kisses on US television when her character kissed James T. Kirk, who was played by white Canadian actor William Shatner. In a 2014 interview with CNN, Nichols stated that the kiss scene “changed television forever, and it also transformed the way people looked at one another.”
Nichols committed herself to the space program after “Trek’s” three-season run. She aided in the recruitment of astronauts Sally Ride, Judith Resnik, and Guion Bluford, among others, and helped NASA become a more diverse organization.
Hikaru Sulu’s captain on the USS Enterprise, George Takei, offered a heartfelt remembrance of his co-star.
By starring performers of color in prominent roles, the 1960s television series Star Trek helped to dispel preconceptions.
Ms. Nicholls defied expectations when she was chosen for the role of Lt. Uhura in the television show.
She and William Shatner, who portrayed Captain Kirk in the Star Trek series, made history in 1968 when they enjoyed one of television’s first interracial kisses, but it was not a romantic one.
Despite her accomplishments, Ms. Nicholls had at first thought about quitting the program. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who called her figure the “first non-stereotypical role played by a black woman in television history,” persuaded her otherwise.
After the television series ended in 1969, she continued to appear in the first six Star Trek films.
Along with her acting career, Ms. Nichols also took on the role of NASA ambassador, promoting the agency’s space program to women and underrepresented groups.
Brief Bio of Nichelle Nichols
Grace Dell Nichols was born in Nichols, Illinois in 1932, not far from Chicago. When she was a teenager, dissatisfied with Grace, she adopted the name Nichelle. Her grandfather was a white southerner who fell out with his family after getting married to a black lady.
By the time she was 14, Nichols was singing in local bars thanks to her four-octave vocal range. She met a number of musicians, including Duke Ellington, who eventually invited her on tour. She also did a lot of theater and club work in Chicago.
She relocated to Los Angeles in the early 1960s and was cast in the Gene Roddenberry television series “The Lieutenant.” Leonard Nimoy, Walter Koenig, and Majel Barrett were just a few of the “Star Trek” veterans who contributed to the program.