Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura, Dead at 89

Lieutenant Uhura actress

Actress Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Lt. Nyota Uhura on TV’s original “Star Trek” series, has died.

Nichols passed away in Silver City, New Mexico.

Nichols was with the original ‘Star Trek’ series from 1966 to its end in 1969. Though she had wanted to quit after the first season, she had been urged by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1967 to stay.

Uhura and Captain Kirk

In one groundbreaking television moment, she and co-star William Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk, shared an interracial onscreen kiss, which was unheard of at the time. The two characters always had a platonic relationship on the show but were forced by aliens controlling their brains to kiss in one episode.

Nichols had been hired by NASA in the 1970s to aid in recruitment. She is credited with helping draw the first US woman astronaut Sally Ride and the first black woman astronaut Mae Jemison to the program.

The actress was born Grace Dell Nichols but changed her first name to Nichelle as a teen to have alliterative initials like other stars as Marilyn Monroe, who Nichols was a huge fan of.

Nichols was diagnosed in 2013 with dementia and short-term memory loss. After suffering a stroke in 2015, she began needing round-the-clock care.

RIP Nichelle Nichols (December 28, 1932 – July 30, 2022)