Age 89 marked the passing of Nichelle Nichols. On July 30, in Silver City, New Mexico, the Star Trek actress passed away.
On Sunday, July 31, her son Kyle Johnson provided confirmation of her passing.
“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. Her light, however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration. Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all. I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.”- Wrote Kyle Johnson on her Facebook Page.
According to other sources, her cause of death was heart failure.
Nichelle Nichols was born in Robbins, Illinois, on December 28, 1932. She was raised there with her mother Lishia and father Samuel, the mayor of the community, but she moved away at the age of 15 to pursue her career as a singer and dancer on Duke Ellington’s tour.
Her first on-screen appearance as a dancer was in 1959’s Porgy and Bess. Before joining Star Trek as Lt. Uhura in 1966, she first appeared on Peyton Place and the TV show Tarzan.
She was the first Black actress to leave her handprints in front of Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1992.
As a member of the National Space Institute’s (now National Space Society’s) Board of Directors and via her work with the Space Cadets of America, Nichols not only served as an inspiration for many young women to pursue careers as astronauts.
She received a Public Service Award from NASA in 1984 for her efforts to diversify the sector.