Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura in ‘Star Trek,’ dies

He has died at the age of 89 Nichelle Nichols, an actress who made history playing Lieutenant Uhura in ‘star trek‘ since 1966. As reported by his son through FacebookNichols passed away of natural causes on Saturday, July 30: “I am sorry to inform you that a great star no longer shines in the firmament as it has for years”says the statement, “Her light, however, like the ancient galaxies we now see for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and be inspired by. Hers was a life well lived and a great model for all the world.” world”. how could you know The Hollywood Reporterthe actress lived for years in Silver City, New Mexico, with her family

Nichols was born in 1932 in Robbins, Illinois, and studied dance at the Chicago Ballet Academy. She began her artistic career as a dancer with Lionel Hampton and Duke Ellington, a band for which she also came to sing. She made her film debut as a dancer and in 1964 she had a small role in Gene Roddenberry’s series ‘The Lieutenant’, where she played the fiancée of a black marine who was a victim of racism at the time. It was thanks to this appearance of hers that Roddenberry would choose her for another project that he had underway at NBC: ‘Star Trek: the original series’. In it, Nichols got into the shoes of Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, an authority figure at a time when black actresses on television only played stereotypical servants. Uhura hailed from the future United States of Africa and was on the Enterprise for three seasons, until 1969. Later, she was the voice of the character in the 1973 animated series, in various video games, the series ‘futurama‘, radio fictions and returned to put a face in ‘Star Trek: The Movie‘, ‘Star Trek II: The Khan’s Wrath‘, ‘Star Trek III: The Search for Spock‘, ‘Mission: Save Earth’, ‘Star Trek V: The Last Frontier’, ‘That Unknown Country’ and in ‘Star Trek: First Frontier’ this past 2020. Zoe Saldana took over from him in the movies JJ Abrams Y justin lin and Celia Rose Gooding plays her in the new Paramount+ series ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.’

However, Nichols was not always happy with the character and according to the documentary ‘Trek Nation’, the actress informed Roddenberry that she wanted to leave the series in the middle of the first season because she believed her role was insubstantial. Luckily, she ran into Martin Luther King, Jr. by chance at a fundraiser for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who convinced her to continue on the series because she represented a vital role model for boys, girls, and young people of color across the country: “He told me that Star Trek was one of the few shows that he and his wife Coretta would allow their young children to stay up and watch.”, counted she herself, “I thanked him and told him I was leaving the series. The smile disappeared from his face and he said: “You can not do that. Don’t you understand that, for the first time, we are seen as we should be seen? You don’t have a black paper. You have an equal role »“. Mae Jemison, a former NASA astronaut and the first black American woman to travel in space, has cited Lt. Uhura’s role as her inspiration to become an astronaut.

As a curiosity, in 1968, in the episode ‘Plato’s Stepchildren’, Uhura and Captain Kirk (William Shatner) star in an interracial kiss, something rarely seen at the time in movies or on television. Of course, according to the plot, the kiss occurs because some aliens force them to, but NBC executives, worried about the repercussions it could bring, forced them to shoot a censored version of the scene that Nichols and Shatner deliberately botched every take until they relented and agreed to include the kiss. this anecdote was told by her in her memoirs, entitled ‘Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and other memories’.

Other works

Outside the trekkie galaxy, Nichols was the grandmother of Dan Davis in ‘Heroes‘, Lucinda Winters in ‘The Young and the Restless’ and participated in the films ‘Surge of Dawn’, ‘Mr. Malevolent’, ‘The White Orchid’, ‘Sharknado 5: Global Shaking‘, ‘This Bitter Earth’, ‘The Torturer’, ‘Tru Loved’, ‘Adventures in Alaska’, ‘The Supernaturals’ and ‘Truck Turner’.

But Nichols was not just an actress. After publicly berating NASA for not reaching women and minorities, the organization hired her as a recruiter at universities and even at the North American Aerospace Defense Command, where civilians were not allowed to enter. Thanks to her, Sally Ride, the first American woman astronaut, entered the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Guion Bluford, the first African-American astronaut, and doctors Judith Resnik and dr. Ronald McNair. Nichols was invited to fly aboard the C-141 astronomy observatory, she went to christen the first space shuttle, and since the 1980s she has served on the board of the National Space Society.

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Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura in ‘Star Trek,’ dies


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