‘Star Trek’ Lieutenant Uhura was XX – News Kidda

Nichelle Nichols, who made history and earned the admiration of Martin Luther King Jr. for her portrayal of communications officer lieutenant Uhura On Star Trek, has passed away. She was 89.

Nichols, who previously sang and danced as a performer with Duke Ellington’s orchestra, died of natural causes on Saturday night, her son, Kyle Johnson, wrote on her official Facebook page 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. Last night my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. However, its light, like the ancient galaxies now seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from and be inspired by,” Johnson wrote. “Her life was a life well lived and as such a model for all of us. I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover enough to speak further. Her services are for family members and the best of her friends and we ask that her and our privacy are respected.”

Nichols played an authoritative person on television at a time when most black women portrayed servants.

She was cast as Uhura by means of Star Trek creator Gene roddenberry after she guest-starred as the fiancé of a black US Marine who is a victim of racism in a 1964 episode of another NBC show he made, the Camp Pendleton set the lieutenant.

(Leonard) Nimoy and Ricardo Montalbantwo others Star Trek actors, appeared on that short-lived roddenberry series too.)

In the 2010 documentary Trek NationNichols said she informed Roddenberry half way through Star Trek‘s first season of 1966-67 she wanted to leave the show and return to musical theater, which she called “her first love.”

But a chance meeting with King during an NAACP fundraiser – who knew he was a Trekker? — led Nichols to stay put.

“He told me that Star Trek was one of the few shows that he and his wife Coretta allowed their small children to stay up and watch,” she recalls. “I thanked him and told him I was leaving the show. All the smiles came off his face and he said, ‘You can’t do that. Don’t you understand that for the first time we are seen as we need to be seen? You have no black role. You have an equal role.’

“I went back to work Monday morning and went to Gene’s office and told him what had happened over the weekend. And he said, ‘Welcome home. We have a lot of work to do.’ ”

Said roddenberry in the documentary, “I was happy that at that time, when you couldn’t even get blacks on television, I had not just a black, but a black woman and a black officer.”

Nichols played Nyota Uhurawho came from the United States of Africa in the future, in all three seasons of the series, with a multi-ethnic, multi-racial crew manning the deck of the Starship Enterprise.

She reprized the role in all six Star Trek movies from 1979 to 1991, on animated series and various video games, and on a 2002 episode of futurama.

In the two recent Star Trek movies directed by JJ Abrams, Uhura is played by Zoe Saldana.

In the original Star Trek episode “Plato’s Stepchildren”, which first aired in November 1968, Uhura and Captain Kirk (William Shatner) shared an interracial kiss. (They couldn’t help it, according to the plot, aliens made them do it.)

When NBC executives learned about the kiss during production, they feared stations in the southern states would not air the episode, so they ordered a different version of the scene be filmed. But Nichols and Shatner intentionally messed up every extra take.

“Finally, the guys in charge admitted, ‘To hell with it. Let’s go with the kiss,” Nichols wrote in her 1994 book, Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories. “I think they thought we were going to be canceled in a few months anyway. And so the kiss stayed.”

In the mid 70safter Nichols held NASA accountable in a speech for failing to reach women and minorities, the organization asked her to serve as a recruiter.

“I went everywhere,” she said. “I went to universities with strong scientific and technical training. I was a guest at NORAD [The North American Aerospace Defense Command]where no civilian had gone before.

“At the end of the recruitment, NASA had so many highly qualified people. They took six women, they took three African American men… it was a very satisfying achievement for me.”

Among those who applied to NASA thanks to Nichols were Sally Ride, Judith ResnikRonald McNair and Ellison Onizuka. A documentary about her efforts, Woman on the movepremiered in 2018.

Born Grace Nichols on December 28, 1932 in Robbins, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, she studied dance at the Chicago Ballet Academy. As a teenager, she toured as a dancer with Ellington and Lionel Hampton, first singing with Ellington’s band when a performer fell ill at the last minute.

She danced with Sammy Davis Jr. in Porgy and Bess (1959), was a dice player in James Garner’s Sir Bud force (1966) and played the foul-mouthed head of a prostitute who takes a hit on Isaac Hayes in truck turner (1974). In 1968 she recorded an album, With both feet on the ground.

Nichols appeared as the grandmother of the avenging angel Monica Dawson (Dana Davis), who has the power to mimic any physical movement she sees, on the NBC series heroes.

Her more recent movie appearances came in Snow Dogs (2002), Are we there yet? (2005) and This bitter earth (2012).

Survivors include her son, Johnson, who starred in the Gordon Parks movie the learning tree (1969). The Los Angeles Times reported in August 2021 that he was at the center of a conservatorship battle for his mother.

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